Finally Tempest2

Backmeuptempest Near the finish line of Tempest2 several concerns came to the fore. They were niggling concerns, but they halted the process and forward progress. Unsure I could face the truth of another unwearable sweater it was decided that ignorance was bliss. Shelley suggested that trying a sweater on in its unfinished state right before bedtime may not have been the best idea, but the concerns were (or so it seemed) legitimate.

Tempestinthemountains As the blocked pieces were unpinned, the first concern to present was the limp, almost slippery and lifeless fabric. Maybe Koigu wasn't the best yarn for this sweater.  The yarn used for Tempest1Rav_linkredyarnball had been very different as its finished fabric had body and shape. Worry over this new Tempest flooded my mind.

The second concern presented as I tried T2 on for the first time. There was no way to hold the front pieces together without buttons, so I tried to pull the sweater into place and use my imagination. The body seemed too long and unflattering.  Even more unflattering was the short sleeves…what had I been thinking by having them hit just above the elbow?

The final concern was the color. Was too light, too washed out and not as beautifully blue as I'd hoped? The white wasn't white and the blue wasn't strong. Bleh…this was not going to be a sweater to love, to wear, to live in…or so it seemed.


Nearly a month later, this past Sunday morning, I realized it was time to face the music.  This was the day to fit in a photo shoot, confess my mess and move on. I sewed each button (all 14) into place and then slipped Tempest2 over my head. What a pleasant surprise met my eyes! She looked fine, maybe not great, but fine, and wearable. I tried her with blue jeans and that was great. Then I pulled on a pair of white jeans and that was great, too. What a relief to have Tempest2 wearable, lovely and finished!


Pattern: Tempest from Knitty
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM - 6 skeins, P418
Needle: Size 6 & size 3
Time to Knit: July 19 – July 31, 2009 (Stalled adding buttons until Aug. 23)
Modifications: No stripes, body 2" added before waist decreases, double start cast on and 5 rows of garter instead of hem - sleeves shorten to above elbow
Sweater #9 for MoDoRav_linkredyarnball
Raveled HereRav_linkredyarnball

MoDo-ing Along

I promise to show off Tempest2Rav_linkredyarnball as soon as possible (which may be awhile). I know I'm dragging my feet, but I'm not sure I'll love it. Something just isn't right and it's worrisome. While I should finish and face the music (maybe it isn't all that bad?)...I have more hope for the next sweater.

Rosamund's Cardigan was my favorite from the new Fall IK, but my vision is a little different than the designers. Her fabric is soft, voluptuous and fluffy, the short sleeve has casual, sporty feel, but I could see it as a jacket, with a stiffer finish and longer sleeves, a more tailored approach.  A suitable yarn has been in my stash for an inordinately long time. Could I pull off a version of my vision?


In 2005 I knit Brier with Black Water Abbey yarn and had quite a bit left over (it was purchased for something altogether different). Four skeins have been marinating in the stash since that time. BWA is a very rustic, scratchy, stiff, and almost primitive yarn in finish. However, it's a good yarn for tailored designs or sweaters with cables or textures. The yarn softens with a wash, but doesn't change in gauge or have much "bloom".  It was worth trying and I decided to go for it. Because the yarn is stiff it's hard to make quick progress, but after a few rows I'm feeling good about this choice and how the vision is working so far. 

At the beginning of MoDoRav_linkredyarnball I had a long list of sweater to knit. I also had a list of suitable stash yarns…enough for 8 sweaters. New patterns and new yarns come along reguallarly and, either one or both, can cause upheval in the overall plan. Things are still evolving and with every sweater I knit 20 more designs come to light.  I want them all! (Be still my desire.)  MoDo still has the potential to drive me crazy even though only 2 sweaters are undecided.  Maybe it's time to give up the queue.

It's Time!

Thursday morning was the first day I felt completely back to normal, full of energy, ideas and a willingness to embrace the day. In part, it was due to the celebration that greeted me Wednesday afternoon as I walked into needlepoint class. For the last 10 years (or more) I've taught needlepoint on Wednesday afternoon and this week two students had finished large, longtime projects.


Terri finished a stocking she'd been working on for near a dozen years and she brought champagne and cupcakes to share. Iva Dene finished two exquisite geisha's that had given her angst for more years than she wanted to admit, but they finally were framed, ready to hang, and enjoy. She is thrilled. A teacher couldn't ask for more accomplished students. (Truly they don't need me, but they insist they do. I'm grateful and thankful to spend time collaborating on their amazing works of art.)

Madambutterflyspring Madambutterflywinter

On my way home I thought of poor Tempest2, sad and neglected, stuck in a bag. The weekend had not offered time, energy, or even the slightest desire to finish lonely Tempest2. Ennui had persisted into the week and here it was, midweek and the ennui was still winning. Maybe the enthusiasm of the class had followed me home and would give my desire a little push.


As I sat down and pulled out each piece one by one, I could feel how soft the fabric was and how nice it would feel against my skin.  The weather is perfect for this little sweater and I knew I needed to be wearing it!  It wasn't long before all the pieces were in place, seamed, yarn ends woven in and everything but the sleeves in place.  It looks as if forward motion is happening again.  A photo shoot has been scheduled for the weekend and, if all goes well, Tempest will be making her debut next week.  As often happens the student inspires the teacher and it feels good to be back in the needles again.  Happy Weekend, everyone!

Nearing the End of Number Nine

Without anything else on my needles Tempest Two has been growing in leaps and bounds. It's a fast growing sweater anyway, but I didn't think it would be finished so quickly. The first sleeve and the body is pieces are off the needles. (The sleeves for this incarnation are above the elbow.) One sleeve to GO!


You can see the little pins I use to mark the increases, decreases, and the number of rows. The only way to knit Tempest without stripes, and keep track of what's coming, is to count the rows as if there were stripes. Each piece was carefully marked and checked against the others as I went. Seaming go smoothly because of this due diligence. (fingers crossed)


To keep the yarn from pooling, or the color from doing strange things, I worked with two separate balls and worked two by two rows. Each ball had its own little quirks; bright blues spots, more white areas or stronger color sections, and in the end, mixing the balls paid off. The pieces look very much the same and the fabric is a lovely color and texture.


I have to confess to being quite happy about being ahead on knitting twelve sweaters.  It takes some of the pressure off, but I still have that sense, that niggling voice, constantly telling me there are more sweaters to do.  Maybe I'll feel some relief after number ten is finished, but I have a feeling my mind isn't going to let me rest until all twelve are in the bag.

Eight is Not Enough

As you know my course is set for twelve sweaters this year. Number eight is finished with 4 more to go and that means I must stay in sweater mode for a few more months. It's a good thing all my sweaters haven't been problem children like Gisela or I'd be out in a flash. 


As soon as I'd woven in the last end of Gisela's Gima yarn I headed for the next sweater.  The bag of beautiful blue Koigu has been taunting me by dangling itself in provocative ways for a month now. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I cast on immediately for Number Nine and the process of knitting a soft, scrupulously delicious yarn has been pure heaven. The flow of this lovely, elegant yarn slipping through the fingers and gliding over the needles is as knitting should be.


The plan is to reprise Tempest, one of my favorites sweaters, as it is so enjoyable to wear. The open weave of fingering yarn knit at a large gauge makes Tempest a comfortable sweater even in the heat of summer. This incarnation will have no stripes and the sleeves will be shorter (above the elbow)...a classic summer top. If all goes well and Tempest flies off the needles (I may remain monogamous to it all weekend) I should have a chance to knit Number Ten before August is over. This plan just might work if I don't get too carried away by a Hawt Parrot.

The Quiet Knit

Looking back, I realize this sweater has been on my needles and I haven't mentioned it once on the blog. It was only a swatch the last (and first) time you saw or heard about this project.  The problem is I update on RavelryRav_linkredyarnball as I go along and forget to share the pictures and problems here. Friday I had intended to share my complaints on this sweater, not realizing it could actually be finished this weekend. Gisela was one of the most unique and interesting projects I've ever knit and it was 100% because of the Habu yarn.


Knitting a wiry, hard to handle string was not exactly enjoyable and patience was required with every stitch. Errors were easy to make if I wasn't carefully and each stitch had to be deliberately formed, which made the project drag.  Knitting with this yarn wasn't an fun process and every little anomaly in my knitting shows in the fabric.  Blocking helps but only to a degree.

To keep the project simple, and finishing to a minimum, I opted to knit the body in one piece, with no shaping. Once the body was completed the rest of the knitting went quite quickly and the yarn became easier to handle as my experience with it grew. Sewing together was a challenge as the fabric (and yarn) has no give. It was difficult to manipulate the sleeve into the armscye, but the rest of the finishing went smoothly.
In the end, I am more relieved this knit is finished than I am happy with the end product. I am decidedly a wool grrl and I plan on sticking to wooly yarns from now on. Gisela does, however look good with almost anything. I've worn her with jeans as well as slacks and my work mates thought she was uniquely interesting. They made more comments than usual and noticed Gisela as something new without my prompting.

Pattern: Gisela
Yarn: Habu Gima A-174 
Needle: Addi Lace Size 8
Time to Knit: June 20 to July 18, 2009
Sweater Number Eight for NaKniSweMoDoRav_linkredyarnball

Calming the Tempest

In all honesty, I really couldn't be more pleased with Tempest.  After all the problems and angst, her troubled spirit has calmed and she is lovely and enjoyable to wear.  No complaints here. It really doesn't matter if anyone else thinks the sleeves are too short...the fit is flattering and fine.  There is joy and relief in Zeneedleland.


The yarn was wonderful to knit, should wear well (even at the loose gauge) and the sweater is comfortable. With nothing underneath it will be wearable in the warmer months and with the addition of a t-shirt it should be comfortable in cooler months, too.

Tempestisfabulous Backoftempest 

Not only is Tempest one of my favorite knits, there are plans for a second.  Now that I know the pitfalls, I expect the relationship will be smooth sailing.


Pattern: Tempest by Ann Weaver in Knitty Spring 08
Yarn: Araucania Ranco Solid 120 (Black) 107 (Gray) 
Needle: Size 6 and 3 Addi Turbo
Time to Knit: May 23 to June 20, 2009
Modifications: Started with garter hem of 5 rows. Sleeves are shorter (an error). For more details see the two blog posts that outline the process here and here
Sweater #7 for MoDoRav_linkredyarnball
Raveled HereRav_linkredyarnball

Trouble Brewing

Tempest lived up to her name. It might be very near impossible to recount all the errors made with this project, but I will do my best to give you a sense of what happened. Every error was 100% mine, not Tempest's. As usually happens, when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong from there on out. The lessons were many and I grew as a person and a knitter, but the lesson you could/should take away from my experience is that if I can be intrepid with a project, one that trips me up at every step, you, my friends, can be intrepid, too.


To make this very long project short here is a list of the errors:

  • Sleeve cap decreased worked by flipping the SSK and K2tog. This isn't a big deal but I would have liked it as written instead of what I did. Decision was made to move forward and not rip (I was already knitting the second sleeve) but this may have set the tone for the tempest to come.
  • Sleeves had purposely been lengthened by two stripes. I only realized this was an error when they were laid out to block. This error would be easy to fix so I wasn't too upset or worried.
  • While sewing the nicely blocked pieces together I picked up the two front pieces, instead of the back, and seamed them together. It was late and I decided it was better to wait and fix in the light of day.

The next day we learned that Charlotte was ill and I knew it was best to leave Tempest alone. After knitting the shawl, and working on a few blanket squares (mindless knitting), I felt ready to tackle Tempest's troubles anew, but the troubles just kept coming.

Picking up along the front and neck bands wasn't too much trouble, but when it came to binding off I had to decide whether I was in the right frame of mind to learn something new. In truth, learning a new knitting techniques isn't my favorite thing.  I'll often do what I've always done and go on, but this time I felt learning the sewn bind off was going to make or break the finished look of Tempest.

Knitty is very good at explaining how to do a technique and so, I followed the link and printed off the article. The sewn bind off is at the bottom of the page and it was well worth the effort to learn. However, I was a bit daunted when it said the length needed to execute was three times longer than the edge to be bound off and I just had this feeling I was in for a bumpy ride.

I pulled off way more than I thought I'd need (to go up one side, around the neck and down the other side of the sweater), but also hexed myself by saying I'd be 10 stitches short and that is exactly what happened!


It didn't take long to get into a rhythm when working the sewn bind off and I was very pleased with myself for learning this very beautiful and useful technique. (I'll be using it again.)  I was not in the least surprised to find the yarn was too short to work the last ten stitches, but to my delight, Ranco spit/splices perfectly. Whew! Disaster alleviated.


Now it was time to face the music on the sleeves. I cut off the four offending stripes picked up the live stitches and knit a few rows of garter stitch down. The sleeves looked great and the seaming, while carefully matching the stripes, went smoothly and beautifully. In short order the sweater was completed and looked fabulous. To my amazement it fit perfectly, too! But, as I crawled into bed that night I realized I had cut off FOUR stripes…not the offending TWO stripes. Now I'm worried the sleeves will look to short. Come back tomorrow and tell me what you think.

Almost Ready for Eight


The front and back of Tempest have been blocked and they look great! The size is going to be perfect, despite misgivings she would be too small.  Finishing will commence as the sleeves are in the act of being blocked.  A photo shoot is schedule for the weekend if the weather cooperates and finishing school comes off without a hitch. I couldn't be more pleased!

Tempest has been an easy going grrl, easy to take along and very quick off the needles. The Araucania Ranco has been well behaved, too. Tempest is quite a contrast to HarmonyRav_linkredyarnball and many of you have noted their names should be switched. A knitter can't judge any yarn by it's name or face. The play of colors between the Black (107) and Gray (120) has been smooth and effortless. There have been no dyelot problems (as has happened with other Araucania yarns) and no weirdness or pilling.  (Nature Wool was a disappointment because of the excessive pilling on FLSRav_linkredyarnball.)

Swatchrawoffneedles Swatchafterawashanddry
Before                                                 After

It will soon be time to cast on Gisela, sweater number eight of MoDoRav_linkredyarnball and I'm quite encouraged.  Washing the swatch (toss in washer with other clothes-forget about it and toss it into dryer) straightened it out beautifully.  Who knew Gima would benefit from tough love?

Only two more comments were needed when I signed off just before dinner, so just before I headed to bed last night I check to see if a winner had come in for comment 49,900.  CaroleP, who said her stars were misaligned, was the winner!  It looks like her stars are back in sync.  Congratulations, CaroleP.  Now it's on to 50,000! Thanks, everyone, for playing along with my silliness.

The Yarn Made Me Do It

I shouldn't have done it. I should have let Shelley go check out the LYS by herself. I should have had more will power. But how do you walk away from Koigu on sale for 40% off? HOW!? The minute I saw the color I knew it would make a nice summer t-top. I also knew I had a skein of the very same color and dye lot at home. (It was purchased earlier this summer as part of my ongoing "Koigu Collection".) Seven skeins would be perfect for a short sleeve top. As soon as I walked in the house I picked up the needles and started to swatch.

This will make a great second Tempest and with short sleeves it will be comfortable and, dare I say, cute summer wear.

With summers heat looming and the need to keep up sweater production, I've been thinking about which projects would be the best. Heavy wool is out for the obvious reasons, and yet, I don't want to knit something quick and easy that I won't wear (as happened during the great Liesl fiasco).

The current Tempest is flying off the needles and that means I must think ahead and be ready to hit the ground running with the next sweater. To make sure there is always something ready and waiting I have been plotting, planning and swatching. There isn't anything else to be done with 6 sweaters yet to be knit. After looking at several options I've found more sweater ideas than I need for the year. Too many options have me trying to decide what should be knit now and what should wait.


One sweater that has captured my attention is Paper CraneRav_linkredyarnball, but it's knit in one piece with a gauge of 28 st and 46 rows to 4". That's a ton of knitting and could take well over a month, even two! The yarn (Habu Tsugmi Silk) creates a soft and delicate fabric with a lovely drape.  It will make a wonderful light weight summer jacket. However, time is a commodity with so many sweater to go and this one will likely be shelved until next year.

Blackforrestcottonfleeceforbedjacket The other sweater in the mix is Bed JacketRav_linkredyarnball. It's been on my list for a long time and I like it even though it's never made it to the top. The yarn, Cotton Fleece, is not black, not brown, not green, and it's uniquely interesting.  With all the short row ruffles around the edges I am a bit worried about the time it would take to knit. But, this project will stay in the queue and may be knit in the fall.

The one pattern I feel certain would work up quickly is Gisela. I love the design and have the yarn on hand (a gift from Norma).  One  knitter described the experience of knitting with Gima was like knitting with eels. Yikes! SusanZzzzzzzzzzzzzlinkravelry was a big put off by it, too, but she is knitting a second top with it.  (So, how bad could it be?)  Using Addi Lace needles helped the swatching move right along and I hope they will continue to tame the unruly eels.  The jacket would be the perfect warm weather knit and would also be very wearable during the heat of summer.  With Gisela up next, a second Tempest after that, I might just make it through the heat and not need to give up knitting.