Phew!

Ok, so I don’t think I technically got the gold this knitting olympics – the sweater wasn’t finished until about an hour ago, and even though I can’t find any reference to the time when the flame was extinguished, I’m pretty sure I missed it.

But do you know what? I don’t even care! I made a sweater in less than 12 days (due to a series of really stupid, totally preventable, and completely my-fault-type errors). My family supported me – well, everyone but my dad, who called to give me a hard time yesterday whilst I was in the middle of a knitting-children-Giant-Ahbot-related conundrum – in ways that I never imagined they would. My husband and children get gold medals for being the greatest family ever. My mom gets a gold too, even though she started the whole thing with my dad calling me. And my dad, as usual, gets the lump of coal.

Ok, my fingers are too tired from knitting to type any more.

Good night!

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The Back is Done!

Yay! The back of Sami’s sweater is FINALLY done. I am soooo happy. Here it is, in all of it’s finished glory:

Please note the wondrous absence of knitting needles/yarn still attached to ball in this photo.

Upon binding off the final stitch, I sat down to figure out how many stitches I had left to do in the fronts/sleeves in order to plan out the next five days of my life in relation to the Knitting Olympics. Boy, do I have to work on my math! I calculated the number of repeats x the number of stitches in each section, and came up with about 1800 stitches to completion. Dude! That’s totally doable!

Yeah, until you take into account that every pattern repeat has 20 rows. That’s 36,000 stitches. In 5 days. That’s 7200 stitches per day. I’ve been averaging about 1,820 stitches per hour with this pattern. At that rate, it will take me about 20 hours. So, 4 hours per day. I’m thinking no one gets to eat anything, nor will they have clean clothing or dishes, until next Monday. I don’t think that’s asking too much, do you?

Olympic Knitting Part 2

Yesterday morning I told my husband, “I have to finish the back of this sweater today in order for there to be any chance at all of finishing on time.” And he, being the greatest husband ever, proceeded to take Max to get his hair cut and to visit his sister, leaving me alone to knit all through the morning. And knit I did. I finished two more repeats of the cable by the time he got home.

Then we went to lunch, since much like the Yarn Harlot, I’ve not yet found a way to overcome the need for food. We ate at an Indian buffet – it was lovely – and then he & Max went to the electronics store to explore & I walked over to the coffee shop to get some more caffeine and knit. I finished another cable by the time he returned to pick me up, and we went back home.

I settled myself into the rocking chair and started knitting some more. I was making great progress, and the end of the back was in sight. I only had 10 rows left before the arm hole shaping. But Max thought it would be fun to use me as a jungle gym, which is usually OK, except that I was on a cable crossing row, and I was afraid he’d get poked with my cable needle, or pull on my arm while the stitches were just barely balanced at the end of my needles. Alex suggested I go to the bookstore – and I took him up on it.

About an hour later, after several mistakes and interruptions, I was ready to decrease for the armholes, I executed this maneuver without incident, and then came to several horrible conclusions. First, although I could have stayed at the bookstore knitting for quite a while longer, it was almost 6:00, and I’d promised to make Alex & Max dinner. And I still had to do about five more inches of knitting before I could bind off the back. Oops. I forgot that Sami’s arms, although thin, aren’t only a 1/2 inch  in diameter.

So I went home and took care of my motherly/wifely duties – I even did the dishes after we’d finished – and returned to my knitting. I made it through one more cable, and was so tired that I couldn’t go on. I think I have about 20 rows to go before I can stop, which is easily doable, especially since that means only one more cable.

I didn’t finish yesterday as I’d planned, so my chance at Knitting Olympic Gold is looking pretty slim, but Alex totally gets the Gold for “Greatest Husband EVER”. Thank you honey!

Olympic Sweater – 20 rows left on the back

Olympic Knitting

This year, I finally got the opportunity to participate in the “Knitting Olympics” with my hero, the Yarn Harlot. I was excited all through January, finishing up projects so I could focus all my time and energy on whatever project I chose to knit competitively. After consulting with my daughter, Sami, it was decided that the project I made for the KOs would be for her, and in a pattern of her choosing.

Oh yeah, first mistake. To be fair, I did hand her Debbie Bliss’s “Celtic Knits” to aid her in her search for the perfect cardigan. And, to be even more fair, I did tell her that she could choose the yarn as well, then showed her some of the lovely choices on Knit Picks. And in the Olympic spirit, I admit that I waited until Thursday (yes, the day before the Olympics started) to order the yarn – although, in my defense, I thought they started on Sunday and felt I could deal with a one day handicap if the yarn didn’t arrive on Saturday.

Well. Let me tell you. I retrieved my yarn from FedEx on Monday morning, only to realize that I didn’t have the right size needles to start, and the yarn store that opens at 10:00am doesn’t open at all on Mondays, and the yarn store that DOES open on Mondays doesn’t do so until noon, and I had to drive to LA at noon – and my route did not take me anywhere near the Monday-noon-yarn-store. So I went to Michaels, where I discovered the only option for size 4 needles was straight, long and spindly bamboo. This was an emergency, so I got them anyway.

I proceeded to knit every time I had more than a few minutes free. I was doing pretty well, too, until I realized how much I hated the cables in the pattern Sami had picked. They crossed, once, then continued up for 10 rows only to end abruptly and restart at the center. In addition to them being kinda ugly, they also required cabling on every right side row. For fancy-shmancy cables, I might be willing to let this slide. But not for ugly ones.

So, on Wednesday morning I frogged the whole thing and made up a chart for a cable I liked. Now that I only had to cable on 3 rows out of 20, I was flying right along. And then, yesterday evening, I did something I should have done LONG ago.

I read the rest of the directions.

At the very end, it mentions referring back to page 7 to read about finishing the sweater. In the section on finishing, I found that the sweater I was knitting was designed to be knit in yarn that, although machine washable, will shrink. Apparently, it will shrink quite a bit. The finished, unwashed length of the sweater is 28″. The final length is 22″. Oh yeah, and I’m using hand-wash-lay-flat-to-dry-alpaca-silk yarn, which, if cared for properly, will NOT shrink.

I’m not starting over again. I’m just going to hold it up to Sami’s back frequently to make sure I’m still making her a sweater & not a dress. I’m nearly halfway to the arm hole shaping on the back (60 rows down, 73 to go). This makes me a bit sad, because I’m beginning to doubt that I’ll be able to finish in time to get the Gold. But then, when I really think about it (which, as evidenced above, I should probably do a lot more often), I got this far in just two days. I have 8.5 (or so) left.

I might just be able to pull this off!

Olympic Sweater – Debbie Bliss’s “Shaped Denim Jacket” (with heavy modifications) in Knit Picks Elegance (Jade)

Done. Early. Accidentally.

The baby sweater is done. Finished. I stayed up until 1:00am on Thursday morning doing the seams and blocking it. Thursday morning, I enlisted the help of my daughters, Jojo and Sami, to get the gift wrapped and a button picked out (to be sewn on during a break).

Then I had to chop up some celery and onions and mix the potato salad I’d made for knit night (yeah for knit night!), transfer it into a dish with a cover so it wouldn’t stink up the fridge at the office, and pack all my stuff and the kids into the car.

Hooded Jacket by Debbie Bliss, in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport – Huron

Up close and personal with the cables on the front

When I got to the office, I found, taped to my door, a reminder about the baby shower. I was a bit grouchy due to lack of sleep, so I tossed it onto my desk and headed for the coffee pot. When I came back (in a slightly better mood) and actually looked at the reminder, I nearly wept.

The baby shower is NEXT Thursday.

The up side to this was that I was able to bring the sweater to knit night and show it to the ladies there.

A new baby sweater for a new baby

I’m making another baby sweater. This one is for a brand-spanking new, not even out of the package baby. This time, I’m making the Hooded Jacket from Debbie Bliss’ Simply Baby, but with a few twists.

First, I wanted to make something that a brand new baby could wear. This was an issue because I could not find a pattern for a newborn. This problem was easily solved by using thinner yarn (Lorna’s Laces Sport in Huron rather than an Aran weight yarn) and smaller needles (size 3 rather than 8). I cast on exactly as requested and followed the directions in regard to the decreases as Ms. Bliss requested. Because I don’t have access to any newborns, I procured some newborn onesies and have been using one of them to base my measurements off.

 

What do you think? Long enough? Or should it go down to the leg holes?

Anyway, after establishing that I didn’t need to recalculate the entire endeavor, I was ready to start on the left front piece (that’s the back laying under the onesie). This brings me to my second issue. While the Hooded Sweater is quite nice as written, it is a little plain. So, rather than follow the directions, I paged through the book to find another pattern with some interest to it. I opted to use the cable layout from the Cable Blanket from the same book, but with skinnier cables (if I hadn’t made that alteration, the entire front would have been consumed by the cable). I added 5 extra stitches to the front cast on because I’ve read in several places that cables pull the fabric in, and I didn’t want the poor baby’s brand new belly poking out. It’s a little hard to see, but here it is:

To keep track of what I was supposed to be doing, I made a chart in Microsoft Excel and used conditional formatting to color the cells based on whether I’d put a “p” or “k” in them so I would know just by glancing at my computer screen what I was supposed to be doing. I must say, it worked pretty well. To make the chart for the right front of the sweater, I referenced my original cells, but in reverse order (Z was A, Y was B, X was C, etc.). I’ll finish the left front either tonight or tomorrow morning, then attach the right front. Then I’m on to the sleeves! This is what the whole front (well, half of the whole front) looks like right now…

In other news…

I got pictures of Danielle in her sweater!  Isn’t she just the cutest??

Please join me in wishing Danielle and her family much happiness and congratulations.