Sunday, December 31, 2006

An honest-to-goodness finished object

Kitty and I have been lazing around all day

but I did get a bit of knitting done.

Here's my husband modeling his new string market bag filled with cans and other tasty food items.

Pattern: Market bag with the following mods: picked up radically different number of stitches for top of bag, then did trim and strap in stockinette instead of garter stitch.
Yarn: Valley Yarns Winsor
Needles: Denise transformer robots-in-disguise tree trunks (#15) and tree branches (#10)

My row and stitch gauge turned out radically different from those (not) specified in the pattern. I put the bag together anyway, to see how it'll work out. (I'm sure it can still carry OJ, which is what my husband goes out nearly every night to buy.) I'm not sure the stitch pattern is sufficiently dense to keep things from falling out. I'm not sure it is sufficiently structured to do much carrying of heavy objects. It's certainly worth a try, at least, but I won't be using the pattern in this form again.

As for the yarn, it's great for this project, since I don't care about it being knocked around/pulled on/stained, but it's probably too randomly tuft-y and rough for me to choose to use it in an actual garment. I like the texture, but there are spots where it just breaks down and becomes a big poof.

Happy new year to all and sundry. I think kitty and I will be asleep before then!

In which I distract you with cute kittiness

I've made some progress in scarf-land, but I've been lazy about blocking. In an attempt to distract you from this fact, I have kitty with my current WIP and kitty with his holiday present.

See! Cuteness!

Anyway, my MIL was sweet enough to get kitty a catnip mouse. Perhaps he'll play with it instead of my knitting. I'm not holding my breath here.

Kitty has been trying to "help" with my first knitted item ever for my husband. No, it's not a sweater. According to my knitting group, the sweater curse is still active until three years after the wedding, and we're closer to three months. In a purely technical sense, my husband doesn't want a sweater. He doesn't want anything knitted. I've been racking my brains for something he might need; I think I've finally found it.

A string market bag in Valley Yarns Windsor cotton. I'm not sure this is really the right pattern for the job, though: I'm ending up with a long, skinny bag that was a real pain to sew together.

The side seams don't seem to add stability and are a pain to sew, even in whipstitch. I'll finish this off and see what happens. I know a certain someone up in frozen-land who might want something like this, so I'll have the opportunity to knit a refined version. (That certain someone might want to let me know whether she cares about the colour before I go look for yarn.) I won't be touching it for a while, though. The size 15 needles are driving me bonkers! I want my nice comfy size 1s (pictured for comparison) back! I'm thinking of knitting an all-over colourwork sweater in fingering weight just to get my nice tiny needles back into my nice tiny hands.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

What on earth?

Dear Lea,

What could this possibly be? A post? From Krista? My goodness.

And not just a post? But a finished object?

Yes. During my first semester of law school, I knitted about 1/2 of a scarf and about 1/2 of one sock. During the first part of my winter break, I finished the scarf - my first FO in SIX MONTHS! SIX! Law school is not conducive to knitting. You'll recognize this yarn as the Manos you bought my husband for his birthday last summer. I used one hank for this scarf, in a pretty basic mistake rib - he wants a long hat with earflaps and a tie from the other skein. Norton was happy to help with the unpinning.

I couldn't get a good close up of the ribbing, but here's the whole scarf:
It's been such a mild winter that I don't feel pressed to start on the hat right now. Instead, I'm going to make something from the Arctic Lace book that you bought me for MY birthday (you're so generous with the knitting related gifts) ... so look for pictures of that in another six months or so :)

Have a wonderful New Year's, everyone!


Thursday, December 28, 2006

A life changing experience

Lucy told me to get wool long underwear. She said they'd change my life. That's exactly what I was scared of when I got the package.

The model wearing the long underwear is obviously very cold, so the long underwear isn't helping her out at all. In addition, the long underwear may have given her the bad boob job. Better safe than sorry; no top for me!

Lucy is right, though. Mmmmm... waaaarm. For the first time walking to work wasn't an experience in being stingy-frozen-cold from my boots to my thighs. Moving to somewhere snowy is a continual lesson in how wool is the wonder fabric. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a wool-wearing contest: wool hat, pashmina as a scarf, wool coat, wool sweater, wool pants, thick wool socks. Long underwear is just going to give me another leg up when someone holds that contest. I'm sure it will be any day now.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Food is good

Insert food here.

First insert this.

Then insert this. (I was somehow too full for this step.)

The happy abdominal snowman says hi!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rudolph the Red Nosed Misogynist

How did I never notice before how misogynist the movie "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" is? A sampling of actual quotes:

  • "We'd better get the women back to Christmastown."
  • "You can't do this; this is a man's job."

Notice also that Donner's wife has no actual name; her name is "Mrs. Donner". One good thing did come out of watching this movie, though. My husband's belly has a new nickname: it's the abdominal snowman, because it's hairy and white.

While I'm up on my PEI yarn run (I did find some yarn, but I'll post pictures of that later) I've been working on a pair of Latvian Mittens for my SIL. She picked out the pattern and happened to like the colours of Baby Ull I had with me. The yarn is all kinds of soft, though processed-feeling, but I have to wonder how well it will protect against the weather and stand up against snagging. It's rather slick; I just pulled an inch of a ply out by brushing against some velcro!

The dark blue cuff is a lining for the cuff to make it fit more snugly around her wrist. Unless I've missed something in the book and pictures, Latvian mittens do not traditionally have the refinements of their Nordic cousins like thumb gussets and border stitches (to hide the jog at the beginning of rounds). It may not be historically accurate, but I think my mittens are going to look like a hybrid in future.

Dale of Norway certainly has some impressive designs, even besides the cutest baby designs ever.

Now if they only sold patterns for them instead of $300+ sweaters, I'd be in business. Here are my famous last words, right up front: how hard could it possibly be to write a pattern for that?

For those of you who celebrate a holiday today, OH OH OH

Merry Dog!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Fleece Artist/Handmaiden run

I'm on my most long-distance yarn run ever: I'm on Prince Edward Island looking for Fleece Artist and Handmaiden. We were apparently so determined to get here that we drove directly through the water

and drove right by an incomparable opportunity to wash puppies.

Unfortunately, it looks like everyone else in North America got here before me, because Great Northern Knitters (believe it or not, it's also a yarn store) is out of pretty much everything but a few sad, disconnected skiens of BFL, cashmere, qiviut, and thrummed sock kits. I had a fun conversation a few times:
Yarn store person: Can I help you?
Chialea: I'm looking for any sock yarn, sea silk, or 900 yards of DK wool and a matching 700 yards of mohair.
Yarn store person: We have a kit for thrummed socks here.
Chialea: I don't think those will fit in my boots, somehow. I'll come back some other time of year.

At least I got to pet the qiviut and dream about buying a skien for mitten liners. (I was too scared to try on the $600 qiviut sweater.) I'm not sure I'm quite that extravagant, but this has reinforced my desire to get my hands on some nice yarn. I'm also rethinking the "sweater with mohair" idea; it's the first time I've touched that stuff and it sheds worse than my cat! To that end, I'll be heading to the farmer's market later today to meet the woman who knit my wonderful thrummed mittens.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's holiday time!

I finished my holiday knitting early (who'd have thunk it?), so I'm on to knitting something for my MIL. It's lace, so I hope she likes it. Currently, it's all crumple-y, but it is very soft and warm and squishy. Everyone likes soft and warm and squishy yarn!

I think I might need to make another one of these for myself. I also hope she likes the prospect of blocking on the carpet or the bed or something, because I don't think there's any way I'm going to finish it before I get there. I promise it won't bleed!

My poor mother spent her birthday at the hospital with her father. He pulled through the surgery fine, and we're counting on his incredible stubbornness to keep him on the track to recovery. Sure, he calls me stubborn, but I just don't know what he could possibly be talking about. As a bithday treat for her, I'll let her peek at the present I knitted for her. She asked for more knitted presents, which she'll recieve after I track down satisfactory yarn for them. (It's hard to track down specific colours of hand-dyed yarn during the holiday season!)

Ever environmentally conscious, my husband and I wrapped our presents to each other in our shirts and opened em last night. He didn't get me any yarn/needles this year, under the theory that I'll buy them for myself anyway. Instead he got me a Pimsleur language course to work through with my dad, the book of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (all praise his noodly appendage), and some great CDs that I'll listen to the moment this multi-day migraine goes away.

Let's just say that kitty was very pleased with his present, too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Ankles we have turned on high

Yesterday, I walked up a mountain and then back down again. Actually, since quite a lot of the "walk" is up rock faces, I climbed up a mountain and slid back down on my butt. Unsurprisingly, it's cold up on the top of a mountain in mid-December, though it is quite pretty. Note that this picture shows the hiking trail, not the side of a cliff.

As the title of this post might indicate, my ankles are either indicating their displeasure at this outing in specific or the state of my holiday knitting in general. I still haven't found the perfect buttons to finish off a pair of gloves, started a cotton washcloth, or started on the second fuzzy mitten. All of these things are being shipped out Tuesday morning, so I need to get on top of this!

One down: my aunt's socks. She has tiny feet, too.

Yarn: Cascade fixation
Needles: #2 crystal palace bamboo DPNs (hands-down, my favorite bamboo needles are from Crystal Palace)
Patten: Toe-up socks using magic cast-on and short-row heel on 64 stitches with rolled cuff

I was planning a more refined top, like a picot hem, but was thwarted by the hiking. I don't know if you can see this well in the picture, but each ankle has a rather impressive swelling on it. Given the amount of rock clambering, they're doing fine and will be back to a normal size soon. However, a normal size is absolutely necessary to check the fit of socks for my slim-ankled auntie! I hope she'll like these anyway.

To keep me laughing through the deadlines, I'll be watching Dildo Diaries. It's a documentary about some rather odd anti-sex laws and how they came about. Watch this hilarious clip of the movie, then run out and watch the whole thing.

Friday, December 15, 2006

No more David Lynch

I saw "Inland Empire" the other night. I'm pretty sure that's going to be the last Lynch movie I see. I don't do well with creepy movies. I don't do well with movies where things jump and scream. I do not like that kind of violence. I really don't like watching it for three full hours. Still, all of that might possibly have been forgivable, but this is beyond the pale:

Two dropped stitches! I've never dropped stitches when knitting in a movie before. I'm almost done fixing them in this picture, but my extremely tight creepy-movie-induced gauge made it extremely annoying.

In more cheerful news, I'm shopping for yarn for my next designer-inspired sweater. I'm thinking of trying out Silky Wool in colours 9 and 20. What do you think? They may be too close in shade. I don't want it to look like I had a dye lot accident; I want it to look like the sweater contrasts interestingly.

One advantage of the non-matching sleeves is that when I inevitably wear out the elbows I can replace the sleeves!

Turn the gifting crank

If you're related to me by blood, stop reading now. Then again, if you're related to me by blood, you're rationalizing to yourself right now that continuing to read is the moral equivalent to peeking in the corners of a package. My family has a long and glorious tradition of peeking, and they're probably feeling deprived of this since I'm so far away. So be it; surprise is in your hands.

My knee is oh-so-attractively modeling my sister's scarf in the "it's so cold I'm strangling myself" configuration. I tried to get the cat to model, but he was a bit disturbed by the amount of yelling I do when I watch Jepardy. This scarf is everything my sister asked for: big, fluffy, pretty, and soft. It's also geeky: if you look closely, you can see that I've used Fibonacci numbers as the basis for the striping. The number of ridges of Silk Garden in each stripe are {1,2,3=2+1,5=2+3,3,2,1}.

Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran and Noro Silk Garden
Needles: Size 10 Denise
Pattern: Cast on enough stitches for length of scarf. Knit garter stitch until scarf is wide enough and/or you run out of yarn. Cast off loosely.

I have a surprise for a certain member of my family who kept fondling the same yarn every single time we went to the yarn store. I've been hiding this in my stash until now, when it begins to realize its destiny as mittens.

You can't convince me that Sinsation is for anything other than mittens. Why use that fuzzy yarn on anything other than your hands, where you get to actively feel it all the time? Seriously, I think Yarndex is insane when it suggests that sweaters would be an appropriate use of this yarn. (If I'm off base here, send me a picture.) First, it's thick and heavy, so it'll stretch out terribly. Second, it's thick and plushy, so it'll make you look like a caterpillar just before entering the cocoon. Babies look cute in sweaters like that, so I'll make an exception for them.

Anyway, I made a mitten using "two" size 10.5 Denise circulars and one ball of Sinsation. As I only have two of each size needle tip, I used size 10s to hold stitches while I knitted off of them with the size 10.5s. My pattern, however, was a little loose: magic cast-on, then increase like for socks until they were big enough, then knit until they're long enough, then knit back and forth to make a slit for a thumb, then knit a few rounds, then pick up and knit the thumb from the other end of the ball, then knit until you almost run out of yarn while decreasing around the base of the hand, then use the EZ sewn bind-off. Note the complete lack of numbers in this pattern. I was so worried that one ball of yarn wouldn't be enough that I didn't bother to note exactly what I did. Given the six inches of yarn I have left over, reproducing this mitten may be exciting in the "what do you mean I need to un-darn ends on a thick chenille yarn?" kind of way.

Tomorrow I'll attempt to reproduce this mitten while on the way to hike up a mountain. I will point out that hiking up a mountain in mid-December was not my idea, but it does sound fun. I even get to wear the least flattering pants ever made! They make me look like my bottom half has suddenly gained 30 pounds in some bizzare experiment to graft different-sized people together. Perhaps if I wear my fluffy down jacket I'll look normal again.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sneak peek

I tried on the beginning of my new sweater, so I thought I'd post a picture.

The stockinette portion has not been washed, so it's still thin and oily. When I wash it, it won't be see-through (like the lower portion).

My design theme for this sweater is faux-seams. The seams start in the lower portion of the sweater. Waist shaping causes ribs to come together and twist into cabled "seams" on the front and back. After I finish the bust, the front and seams will curve like on a tailored garment. I'm not sure whether they'll twist together at the shoulders or spread into arm seams (or both). We'll have to see where the muses take me.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Quantum sock coherence

I think I'm having trouble with sock coherence again. Can't I wave a quantum magic wand and make these a pair?

The pink/purple/blue socks are actually for my aunt, but they'll need to be partially ripped. It turns our that k1p1 ribbing in Cascade Fixation is bigger than stockinette. When I try on this sock, I can see daylight all the way around my ankle. Out they go!

After I finish these socks, I think my next will be of a rather odd design to satisfy my new boots. It turns out that walking on concrete a minimum of 1.5 hours per day makes one's feet hurt when one wears out one's shoes. It also turns out that one can wear out shoes at an astonishing clip. Anyway, I've gotten my first knee-high boots, so I need some warm ass-kicking socks to go along with my ass-kicking boots.

If anyone else has a pair of well-loved thrummed mittens, you can rejuvenate them instead of throwing them out. My MIL got me some authentic Newfoundland thrummed mittens several years ago (these and the Knitter's hand creme are my well-loved weapons against winter). This winter they suddenly seemed less warm and cushy than they had previously. On the bottom of the mitten you can see the reason why; they felted (and not in the good, warm way)!

A little work de-clumping the fleece is restoring them to their warm, cushy wonderfulness for now. (When I say "fleece" here, I'm not kidding. This is minimally processed wool.) I may need to learn to knit a pair or augment these next year, if I wear the lining down much more.

As promised, I am working on a new sweater of my own design. It's only knitted coned yarn up to the bust, so it's not particularly exciting yet. I'm extremely impressed with this $12/pound wool, though!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sweater style emergency!

I've posted some math on short row shaping below, but I have an urgent request of all of you: should I finish and wear this sweater for a holiday party on Friday? I don't know the people there, and I don't know that I'll ever have to see them again, if that makes a difference. On the other hand, my husband works with some of them, so there are some limits I'll have to observe.

My husband doesn't seem to like this sweater, and I've spent so long knitting it that I don't have any perspective left. Should I finish it? Should I wear it? Should I burn it?

Should I hide out with the cat?

Short rows for every occasion

If you're not essentially tubular, you might appreciate having your sweaters fit better. Sure, there's all of that increase/decrease stuff, but that's only one dimension of your knitting. The other one is length, and it's almost never considered in printed patterns. (Some White Lies Designs patterns, such as the Shapely Tank are welcome exceptions, even if I don't want a tank top made of cotton that thick.)

First we'll consider the case for which most patterns are written: tubluar person. (Tubular person is facing to the right, so that you can appreciate her/his tubularosity.)

Note that if the front and the back of tubular person's sweaters are the same length, they come to the same point on her/his body. Right now we're going to consider this the goal, though you can use these same techniques to make the sweater whatever shape you want.

Now we'll consider pointy person.

Pointy person's sweaters don't fit so well if the front and back are the same length. (See left figure.) In fact, pointy person is liable to end up with weird bunching and an unintended crop-top effect in the front of her/his sweaters. If this isn't the effect that pointy person prefers, then pointy person might be better served with a sweater where the front of the sweater is the length of the arrow on the right. (This arrow suggests a relatively clingy sweater.)

The situation is, naturally, a little more complex than this. When we're consdering bust darts, we really only want to increase the length of part of the front of the sweater by that much. Thus, for situations like these (which are pretty much all of 'em), one needs two measurements to add short-row shaping:

  • How wide? Measure the width of whatever body part you'd like to cover at the most prominent part. For bust darts, this doesn't mean to measure the width of your breasts. This means to measure the distance between your nipples (assuming that they're the part of your breasts that sticks out the farthest. If you're actually making bust darts, you may not want the bust dart to become an arrow pointing right at your nipples, so add "a little" length to this. (I just use a measuring tape and start moving out until it doesn't look like I'm grabbing myself.)
  • How long? As in the diagram of pointy person, measure length down to some point over the most prominent part of whatever body part you're trying to cover along the path you expect the sweater to take. Then measure length on the other side down to the same point. For bust darts, that means measuring over the fullest part of the breast down to something like the end of your ribs and then down over your back to the same height in back. If your sweater is going to be really clingy, hold the measuring tape close to you and right up under your breasts. If your sweater is going to be less clingy, drape the measuring tape the way you expect the sweater to fall (which is probably not right up underneath the breasts).

Now, for the math. This is really simple: knit a piece of fabric the shape of the red quadrilateral in the diagram below, then keep knitting your garment over all the stiches. It'll act like there's a triangle of fabric missing, just like if you made a dart in a sewn garment, and you'll get a graceful addition of length to cover your body.

More specifically, you can tell how many short rows you need by multiplying the length by your row gauge. Call this x Then the difference between the original width and the desired short-row width, times your stitch gauge gives you the number of stitches that you don't need to knit by the time you get to the top. Call this n. Since there are two sides, that's n/2 stiches per side. Because you only hit each side once every two rows, you knit n/2 divided by x/2 fewer stitches each time you turn. That's n/x stitches fewer each time. If it's not quite even, fudge mercilessly.

You can spread out these short rows in two different ways: separate them in chunks or spread them out diffusely. Separating the short rows into two chunks is especially useful if you have a very long length and/or a very short width. The math for this shaping is just like the math for a single set of short rows, just repeated upside down. :)

If this diagram looks a bit familiar, that's because it's exactly how short-row sock heels are constructed. You can also calculate the short rows you'll need and spread them out over a larger area to make them less obvious. Just keep in mind that if they get too far from the area that requires them, it can cause odd stretching in the knitted fabric.

Don't forget: this technique isn't just for bust darts! This is how you can cover more complex shapes (such as the following)

knit short-row heels for socks, or make the shoulders of your sweaters (especially raglans) fit better!

Monday, December 04, 2006

More Mermaid

Good luck to everyone else who's working on a Mermaid! I wore mine to work today and was stopped in the hall by someone who complimented it. (This takes a fair bit of doing in an organization of engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, and other assorted geeks.) He was extremely surprised that I made it myself. The upshot is that this takes a long time to knit, but it isn't hard and the payoff is good.

I looked at the other Hanne Falenberg sweaters, but I'm just not tempted by anything but Ballerina. I think I might be able to better satisfy that urge by knitting a nice tweedy capelet, even though we've passed capelet-appropriate weather here in Boston with today's "snow". Who knew that slush could fall from the sky?

From Ava:
Gee, I have to finish my Mermaid now. Yours looks great! I appreciate the photos and the tips. I have one question? what is the armscye? How could it be cut deeper? Do you think the droopy shoulders could be remedied by shoulder pads?

Thanks, Ava. :) The armscye is the hole for your arm. There are essentially two dimensions to a set-in armscyes, which I'll call length and depth. (That diagram is supposed to be a sweater; the red is the armscyes, which is where you didn't knit so that there would be a place to sew in a sleeve.)

If the length is too short, your sleeve will rub your armpit raw. If its too long, it can literally pin your arm to your side. (See my first attempt at a sweater, for which I did not write the pattern, thank you very much. If anyone wants a laugh, I'll dig this out and take a picture wearing it, now that I have help in the house. The degree of pinning was so extreme that I couldn't take my own picture in the mirror.) A deeper armscye will pull the sleeve a little farther up on your shoulder. As someone with excessive curves and small shoulders, Mermaid would have fit me slightly better if it had slightly more depth to the armscyes. Shoulder pads might well fix this, but I don't usually wear them. To be clear, this is a minor quibble; I'm very attuned to perfect tailoring, even if I don't manage to dress as well as that would imply.

From Jasmine:
hmm, now I am worried about knitting this -- I was going to make the large size and shorten it to the medium length as to accomodate some curves but it sounds like you think darts might be the way to go -- I'd hate to knit this up and have it not fit well.

It depends on where your curves are. Even with all the hip I have, Mermaid is more than roomy in the hips. I just find that it isn't nipped enough in the waist for my figure, and that it could use some bust darts (like every other sweater design ever made). I'll write up something on short-row shaping tomorrow to give guidelines on tweaking the math. If you're feeling desperate, I can often be bribed into math. :)

I've worked out the math for my next design and started it off. A few inches of knitted coned yarn scrunched up on circular needles isn't very exciting, though, so I'm going to save the progress pix until after the short-row shaping post. Short-row shaping saves my butt every time I knit, now that I've figured out the simple math to follow.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Mermaid question

As I can't email anonymous directly (and because I love the parts of blogs where people talk about what's good/bad about a pattern or yarn), I'll answer this question from Anonymous about my last post:
I looked. I was looking for comments about Hanne Falkenberg patterns and kits. I like how they look on her website but wasn't sure how they look on real people - many are shown on mannequins. It sounded like you had some mixed feelings. Were the instructions clear? What is knit from the bottom up or side to side - looking at the stripes, is sort of looked like it might be side to side.

I have a lot of trouble fitting pre-made clothing and patterns because I'm quite curvy (true hourglass figure) but still pretty small (size 6-ish) and tall (5'9"). That this pattern wasn't curvy enough for me isn't saying much, and I can't predict how it will look on you without some measurements. :) If any specific pictures would help you, please let me know and I'll post them. I also have some ideas about how to tweak the pattern to add bust darts and reduce the waist, if anyone wants them. (I can go through the general math for adding bust darts, if anyone needs that, too.)

The instructions are terribly written for a kit of that price. I had no trouble following them after a bit of puzzlement at the beginning, but they are certainly terse. You'll find things like a long stretch of changing short-row shaping and increases with no explicit row count, followed by an instruction to reverse the shaping. It's annoying but not a show-stopper. I actually do that anyway on patterns, just to make sure everything matches correctly. I am a math geek. One knitter on the Hanne-along made a spreadsheet version of the directions that other people seem to have found helpful (she'll only give it to you if you already have the directions, btw). Personally, I found the directions sufficient, if terse for someone who's knit as little as I have.

Mermaid is knit from side to side. First, the directions specify that you knit a really freaking long icord and pick up stitches from it. I would strongly recommend that you use a provisional cast-on instead. Garter stitch tends to expand width-wise (length-wise on this sweater), which means that your icord might well be too tight, and you wouldn't find out until later when you block the sweater. The pain involved in picking out the icord and redoing it is just too much to contemplate. Anyway, provisionally cast on a bunch of stitches, then knit lengthwise the collar/lapels/front edges of the sweater. You can see a picture of this stage here: the ivory bit sticks up on top because that will be stitched together with a matching piece on the other side to create the collar later. Then one continues to knit the body (the top of this section will be seamed together to make the shoulders) to the armscye. At that point you cast off a bunch of stitches, make the underarm shaping, and cast em back on again. You can see a picture of this here. Then you do the entire thing in reverse to create the other side of the sweater; all the fancy gussets are just some short rows, and I didn't think they were hard. Seaming is a snap, so don't worry about that part. There's a good bit of icord to apply, but it didn't take me too long. All the little details about this sweater are nicely designed, but not fully explained. Luckily, there are a bunch of people out there who have figured these little details out already.

As for the sleeves, they're also knit lengthwise. Short rows and increases/decreases create shaping at the sides of the caps, but the middle is straight knitting and increases/decreases to make the top of the cap. The blue stripe down the middle is just two ridges of garter stitch. Once each sleeve is done, it's "seamed" using a three-needle bind-off with the cast on stitches. If you wanted, you could do a nicer seam or a provisional cast on, but I haven't found the seam to be bulky because the yarn is so fine.

Because this is a rather complex sweater/jacket that's knit on 3mm (I used 2.75mm) needles, you are making a significant time investment in this, in addition to the cost of the kit. Right now I'm pretty down on myself, because this isn't as perfect as I wanted, but it is lovely and I'm going to road-test it tomorrow. For me, I think it was worth it, especially as it introduced me to a lot of new techniques and ways of thinking about fabric and shaping. I also have a newfound affection for shetland yarn, which I never would have considered before. I'm going to use my Mermaid leftovers (and I have a lot, since I knit the smallest size) towards a patterned-yoke shetland sweater a la Elizabeth Zimmerman. Shetland is a little scratchier than, say, merino, but it makes up for it by being incredibly light and fluffy and warm. Even a light knitted fabric has structure, even while it preserves some drape. This does mean that I'll be more careful about the shaping of my shetland sweaters; they won't be quite as forgiving (figure-wise) as something drapier, but the structure will hold up better.

Now I'm off to do some math for a new aran-weight sweater in which I'll use small, subtle cables to suggest tailoring. I love sweater designs that show how nicely the wearer is shaped, and boxy sweaters just don't do that for me. Flattering is the new black. If anyone else is having that problem, I can write up a custom pattern for this or my red fingering-weight sweater (it's almost done... I just need to get back to it).

Finished object: Mermaid!

I've finished off my Mermaid!

I'm going to wear it out tomorrow to meet imaginary people from the internet; if they don't make fun of me, I'll consider it a sucess. My gauge issues are largely masked by the application of icord as edging; normal sweater construction compensates for loosening/tightening gauge throughout a project far better than Mermaid. It's still a lovely sweater, and I'm very excited to have finished it, not least because my partner claimed that I obviously didn't need any knitting things for the holidays, as I hadn't finished last year's present.

For those with high curviness coefficients, note that Mermaid suggests curviness better than it accomodates it. If I knit it again (after I have enough sweaters to keep me warm through the cold, cold Boston winter), I'll take out part of each stripey section and add gussets like the blue ones, but facing up instead of down. (See how excited I was? I didn't even bother changing my ... lovely pants.)

The construction details on this sweater make seaming a snap. Slipped sitches make a two-stitch section of stockinette to be seamed at the shoulders. The narrower band of stockinette is where I seamed the (garter stitch) collar section to the stockinette at the top of the back.

The collar is knit as part of the body, then seamed in the middle and stitched down to the back. This does result in a rather prominent seam down the back of the collar, though it's nicer because of the (single-stitch) stockinette seaming area. It would be more obvious if I had used the icord instructions Hanne Falkenberg specified; instead of making the icord in two pieces (one for each side of the sweater), I did it all at once to eliminate the seam.

Because of all the slipped stitches and colour changes, the insides of the seams don't look as pretty. I'm hoping that a bit of steam will make them nicer. Since the yarn is so fine, bulkiness is not an issue here, just fastidiousness.

The shoulder is easy as well, because the sleeve incorporate the slipped-stitch seaming area. (You can just see the edge of it in the seam in the form of vertical pieces of yarn.) The armscye is rather flat, which is good for seaming, but probably could have been slightly better for fit. In virtually every picture I've seen of someone in a Mermaid, the shoulders are a bit large and droopy, which could be fixed by cutting the armsceye slightly deeper. If I knit this again, I'll incorporate that change.

Even the sleeves are finished off nicely with icord!

Kitty says: get on to the next sweater, or the yarn gets it!

I'll add here a blatant plea. If anyone is reading this, please let me know. I'm not sure if I should continue putting up pictures if people don't care.