In Progress: Little Wave

I cast on for a new sweater over the weekend–Gudrun Johnston’s Little Wave. I actually had the yarn for this sweater earmarked for a different pattern for almost a year, but never worked up the motivation to actually get started on it. Then, a few weeks ago, I was feeling overwhelmed trying to pick a new knitting project, and I made Aidan sit down and give me his thoughts on the patterns I had in my Ravelry queue. Since the beginning of our relationship, Aidan’s been responsible for picking out things that have become my favorite clothes, so I trust his judgment. Well, he nixed the cardigan pattern I had planned to make with this yarn because he didn’t like the stand up collar. I agreed that a stand up collar isn’t a look I’m a huge fan of and figured that if it had been a year, and I still hadn’t committed to that sweater project, then it wasn’t worth keeping on the docket. Aidan suggested I make something with a shawl collar instead, which brought me to Little Wave.

The yarn I’m using is Valley Yarns Northampton in Ocean Heather, which I’ve actually salvaged from a previous sweater project that I never wore. I’d used it previously to make Ravine. That sweater has a great cable pattern that was a lot of fun to knit, but in the end I just didn’t like the fit, the neckline, or the style of the sweater. This was one of my earlier attempts in trying to nail down a good sweater fit and while I learned a lot from this project, I think I only ended up wearing it once or twice.

 Anyway, I took an evening to take the sweater apart, unravel the pieces, and wind the yarn into hanks. I let the yarn soak in a tub of water for a good while, and now that all the kinks are gone, it’s ready to be reborn as a new sweater project.

Working out the fitting for this pattern has been the biggest challenge so far. The combination of the textured stitch pattern, the garter stitch panels at the sides of the sweater, and the bottom-up saddle-shoulder construction doesn’t give a lot of room for improvising and makes it a bit harder to move between sizes. Plus, there’s about a 5″ difference between each pattern size, which also makes it a bit trickier to pick the right size to work with. The pattern is actually written with separate instructions for men and women, so that there’s one set of finished chest measurements, but two sets of instructions for shaping the cardigan so that it fits more conventional feminine or masculine styling. (Basically, the women’s version includes some waist shaping, a higher armscye, and the length through the body and sleeves is also a bit shorter.) The trade off for a unisex pattern seems to be fewer overall size options, but so it goes.

Right now, my plan is to basically make up the 46” size through the body. However, I’ll be casting on for the number of stitches called for in the 51” size, and dividing the extra stitches between the garter panels at the sides and the cardigan fronts. I’ll get rid of the extra stitches in the garter panels by working additional waist decreases and then get rid of the extra stitches on the cardigan fronts by starting the v-shaping for the neckline sooner than called for in the pattern. This will give me more room at the hips, waist, and bust, while allowing me to work the shoulder and armscye shaping for a smaller size. The shoulders for the 46″ will be too wide for me, so I’m going to try to work some extra decreases in the yoke shaping in hopes that I can decrease down to the appropriate number of stitches for the 41.25″ size. Here’s hoping the plan works out!

Blogging Challenges for the New Year

I started blogging again this past November after leaving my blog dormant for over a year. In the final two months of 2013, I managed to publish 12 new blog posts, which all together add up to well over 10,000 words. My return to this blog has been one of the highlights of my year—I’ve been having a lot of fun sharing the things I’ve been making and am finding blogging a great source of inspiration. I’m looking forward to keeping up with my blog this year, and I already have a lot of post ideas to keep things rolling. But I’m also giving myself two blogging challenges for 2014 that I hope will help me develop my sewing skills and give me an opportunity to share some of my knitting knowledge.

Challenge #1: Make a Garment a Month

As I said in an earlier blog post, the reason that I started sewing again this past summer is that I wanted to start making my own clothes (beyond the sweaters I knit myself). Now that I’ve done some more crafty projects that have helped me get a better handle on some sewing basics, I want to get back to focusing on sewing clothes. To help me push myself, I signed up for the Make a Garment a Month blog challenge run by Sarah Liz. The challenge is pretty self-explanatory: you sew one garment for yourself each month and blog about the details. I think this challenge will set a nice pace for my sewing efforts, giving me enough of a challenge to keep me motivated without demanding more than I can reasonably keep up with. My stuff won’t be very impressive or terribly exciting since I’m just starting out, but I’m looking forward to acquiring some new skills and to learning from other, more experienced sewists participating in the challenge. I’ve ordered the fabric for my January project and will blog about my sewing plans for this month as soon as it arrives.

This particular challenge is officially sponsored by my dad, who bought me a new steam iron for Christmas (yes—crafters ask for the weirdest gifts), and by Aidan, who just got a fancy new job that will hopefully allow me to replace my crappy sewing machine in the coming months. So if nothing I make turns out, it’s all their fault.

Challenge #2: Write About Sweater Knitting

The other crafty/blogging challenge I’m giving myself this year is my goal to write a new post each month about some of the things I’ve learned (and continue learning) about knitting sweaters. Awhile ago, before I revived my blog, one of the sweaters that I made was featured on Modification Mondays over on Knitted Bliss, and I got some comments from people about the challenges of knitting plus-size sweaters. (I use the term “plus-size” less because it’s a term I like and more because it is a convenient referent.) I’m no expert, but I do feel like I have some good tips to share and now that I’m blogging again, I figure people might be interested in reading about some of them.

My version of Ravine. More details available on Ravelry.

I struggled to knit sweaters that fit me well for almost as long as I’ve been knitting. When I got serious about learning to modify patterns to fit my body, I spent a lot of time reading sweater-knitting resources on blogs, on Knitting Daily, and on Ravelry. There are lots of great resources available, but the majority of these resources fail to address issues that are more specific to knitting plus-size sweaters. But knitting plus-size sweaters isn’t just challenging because of a lack of resources or patterns—it’s made even more difficult by a whole host of cultural ideologies that can make talking about, respecting, and crafting for a fat body fraught and difficult. My aim with these posts I plan to write is to not only add to the pool of plus-size knitting resources that are already available (one of my absolute favorite resources and blogging inspirations is Knitting At Large), but to also affirm that every body is deserving of a great, hand-made sweater.  My goal is to write at least one blog post about sweater knitting each month, and my first sweater post will go live later this week.

What About Baking?

I don’t have any specific baking-related challenges in mind. However, my dad gave me a copy of Baking with Julia and a bunch of high-quality cake decorating gear for Christmas and I have a copy of The Cake Bible that I haven’t even touched yet, so there’s bound to be some baking fun happening this year.

The cake I made for our godson's 2nd birthday. Photo taken by Aidan.

The train cake I made this year for our godson’s 2nd birthday. Photo taken by Aidan.

Mostly, I’m looking forward to another year of crafting and creating. Have you given yourself any crafting or baking challenges for 2014?