Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Knitting Fail: The Bridge Jumper

Friends, sometimes I get overly ambitious.  Sometimes, I like to imagine myself strutting around in color-work sweaters and feeling oh-so-cozy until the warm weather returns to my part of the world.  Sometimes, I fail spectacularly.  

Way back in the autumn of last year, I persuaded Michelle and Liz to join me in Knitting for Victory.  The Bridge Jumper was in my queue, and I could see myself making it with a black background and white and red hearts/clubs/diamonds/spades. In my mind, it was going to be something amazing. Something like these:

I had even planned to make a cardigan version with Michelle and try my hand at steeking, because why not? I'm trying to challenge myself with every sweater I make, and this would have incorporated multiple colors for stranding, as well as steeking, and even grading up a vintage pattern.  Like I said, sometimes I am overly ambitious.

This is what my sweater turned out like:

I haven't even had the heart to frog it completely.  What you see here took me DAYS to accomplish.  At one point, I was having a bit of a panic attack and asked Josh to time me while I did one row.  Once an hour had passed and I'd only gone halfway around, I knew I was in trouble.  

My issues came from the yarn.  I should have held out to find the perfect black wool fingering weight for my main color, but I didn't - I got desperate in my search after going to three yarn stores in Chicago and finding nothing in that weight or color.  Finally, I settled on Cascade superwash.  Now, I'm sure under normal circumstances, the white, red, and black superwash yarns are very lovely.  However, the combination of these, as well as the fact that the white was thinner than the others, soon left me in tears.  

It was a bitter disappointment.  I had planned outfits with this cardigan (the Annie Savoy skirt, my red McCall's blouse), and wanted to join the other girls in making theirs and the photo shoot.  Eventually, I had to get over it, finish my Christmas gifts, and move onto the Vitamin D.  The yarn still haunts me though, and Liz and Michelle still tease me about leaving them hanging with this monster of a sweater.

When they said they were going to be shooting the sweater over Memorial Day weekend, I was bummed that I couldn't join in.  The night before our gathering, Liz cryptically texted me to bring a black cardigan with me, which I guessed was to emphasize my shame of having not finished the sweater.

I was so, so wrong :)

The fabulous Liz cut out all the color-work designs in felt and pinned them to my cardigan when I was outside.  When she suddenly appeared, I completely howled with laughter - I got to be included in the photos after all!!

These girls are my favorite.  I love knitting with them, even when I've persuaded them to do a project that I can't finish.  Eventually they will forgive me for all the madness this pattern put them through, and I have agreed to shelve my project suggestions for a year to make up for it :)

I will say that I think both of their sweaters turned out beautifully, in spite of all the major issues that were had.  Liz's red background is so vibrant and fun, and the fit is magnificent...

and I aspire to be as wonderful in color-work as Michelle someday, and learn the art of steeking from her in the near future.  

In the meantime, though, I'll continue plotting out my own Bridge Jumper, which I will probably make in the next year with a thicker yarn (and a thicker skin!).


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Vitamin D-idn't Turn Out So Bad!

Friends, please pardon my long delay in posting.  I have been knitting my heart out!  Several months ago (according to Ravelry, in February, to be exact), I started the Vitamin D sweater.  My awesome friend Kelly recommended it to me highly, and even though I wasn't sure about the cut of it, I decided to give it a go.  I was mostly worried about the hem falling and hiding my waistline, but after perusing the other projects on Ravelry, it looked like the draping wasn't a problem.  Awesome!  Now, just needed to wrangle some friends to do this with me... :)

I grabbed Liz and Michelle, of course, and also my friends Elizabeth and Bailey from book club.  Since Liz, Michelle, and I all finished around the same time, we decided to go ahead and do a photo shoot at the lily pond at Lincoln Park. 

Liz, that saucy minx, made hers up in a nautical theme.  IT'S SO PRETTY.  The pictures don't do it justice, but it's soft and colorful and made of dreams and wonderfulness.

And my dear Michelle made hers up in the most lovely shade of coral. I didn't know I needed coral in my wardrobe until now, because that cardigan is amazing!  I wanted to steal it from her badly, but I decided not to, as it coordinated with her dress perfectly.  And her shoes. I loved her shoes. 

As for mine...well...

I am SO SO LUCKY that this sweater is wearable.  So lucky.  

My problems started when I unknowingly picked a fingering weight yarn for this sport weight cardigan AND DIDN'T REALIZE IT. All I needed to do was read the label, and since I love to read labels, I have no idea how I missed this very important piece of information.  I can't even offer any excuses.  I am totally flabbergasted.  It's Berroco Ultra Fine Alpaca, so the drape is lovely, but OMG, Meg - read the label and save yourself the heartache.

As I was working on the short rows, I noticed my cardigan looked a little on the smaller side.  I was concerned.  I put it on waste yarn and tried it on.  The sleeves were a little tighter than I had anticipated (making me glad I left off the last decrease), but other than that, I wasn't noticing any real issues.  Of course, it's also hard to tell before blocking if this was draping properly.

Once I noticed how close I was to the end, and how NOT long my cardigan was, I went into full on panic mode.  This is when I realized that my yarn was the wrong weight. In desperation, I added two more repeats of the radial increases, hoping to make the cardigan reach it's basic measurements for the M2 size, if maybe a little longer.  It reaches the basic measurements, and blocked out well, and so I consider it a miracle that this sweater fits on my body and can be worn in public.

I should have listened to Liz much earlier in the process when she said my yarn looked like fingering, but alas, I was determined in my folly.  Also, I was meeting gauge when I cast on, but then mysteriously ended under gauge as the progress continued.  I'm normally a very loose knitter, or I was, but my stitches have become much tighter on this and my next cardigan that I am working on.  I think my goal of using knitting as stress relief is helping, but also causing me to grip those needles a bit tighter.  

Thankfully, a great stress reliever in my life is the knitting meet ups I share with these two ladies.  We laugh. A lot.  

 In the course of knitting this cardigan and our Ingenue sweaters, we've become close and I consider them friends in real life, not just my knitting buddies.  We share lots of sass and stories.

Serious shout out to our photographers!  Mike and Felix are the best.  Super patient (especially with me not wanting to stand still or do serious faces - ever), and work to make us look as fantastic as possible in our me made creations.  

Now that our cardigans are done, I find myself experimenting with how many ways to style it.  I love how Liz and Michelle paired theirs with skirts, so I've paired mine with a skirt and a dress over the last two days.  I think I underestimated how versatile this piece would be!

 My wardrobe definitely got a bright pick me up in time for Spring weather to FINALLY arrive in Chicago, and I got to spend lots of time with two of my favorite ladies.  Can't wait to see what we come up with next!