Finally, I got back to my sock machine to finish the second mock rib sock.

IMG_8926

Despite my efforts to write down what I did, and to count rows carefully, the second sock turned out longer than the first.  Oops!  They fit but are a tad loose, especially at the cuff.  I think I’ll increase tension a bit for the next pair I do with the Lorna’s Laces yarn.

I’ve also been spinning on my wheel this week!  Here’s some Spunky Eclectic merino/tencel fiber in Sangria.  Look at that sheen!

Spunky Eclectic Merino/Tencel in Sangria

It hardly needed any predrafting, and wanted to be spun fine.  It took some experimentation to find the right amount of twist for it to be strong yet still soft.

Spinning fine

Here’s the first 2 ounces of singles on the bobbin.  I’ll do another 2 ounces to make a 2-ply laceweight.  Mmmm!

Singles

Obviously, I still need to work on filling the bobbin evenly. But it is pretty, no?

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I’ve never done an i-cord trim before, but I love it! See how neat it looks?

I-cord edging

I followed the instructions for the i-cord bind-off here — cast on 3 stitches at the end of a row using the cable cast-on, k2, then k2tog through the back loops (one of the newly cast-on stitches with one of the stitches to be bound off). Slip the 3 stitches back to the left needle, and repeat k2, k2tog tbl. I thought it would be a pain, but it went pretty quickly! Also, I followed EZ’s advice for turning corners — before the corner stitch, just k3 without attaching any stitches, slip 3 to the left needle, k2, k2tog tbl with the corner stitch, slip 3, k3 without attaching a stitch again, then slip 3 and resume k2, k2tog tbl. Very nice!

Helen's Baby Surprise Jacket, almost done

It’s almost done! I plan to seam the shoulders with applied i-cord, which is the same as the i-cord edging, but I’ll be picking up one stitch from each side of the seam to incorporate into the i-cord.

Also, I got back to my beloved wheel, and spun up some merino/bamboo in a colorway called Harvest, from Spunky Eclectic.

Harvest merino/bamboo from Spunky Eclectic - singles

Ooh shiny!  I found this fiber to be a little harder to draft than plain merino, but once I got used to the bamboo it was really nice to spin.

2-ply worsted-ish merino/bamboo in Harvest from Spunky Eclectic

The colors are orange, green, and brown, very similar to the Dinosaur colorway I used for Tim’s sweater, actually! But these are much more muted, and blend together beautifully. I had a problem with my wheel becoming loose and wobbling, which I think is now fixed, so I need to go back and finish the rest of this.

I finally finished the Dinosaur Surprise Jacket!

Timmy likes his sweater!

  • Pattern: Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket, available in several places but mine was from The Opinionated Knitter
  • Yarn: My sort-of-bulky 2-ply handspun from Spunky Eclectic superwash merino in Dinosaur and Special Brown
  • Needles: Denise size 10.5, but size 11 for caston and bindoff
  • Mods: A few extra rows at the end for better overlap of the button band, lengthened sleeves as detailed below

(That is my beloved Tilted Duster I’m wearing.) I’m editing this post later to add this, which is now the featured photo for the Baby Surprise Jacket pattern on Ravelry.  What an honor!  This photo and the one above were taken by my sister Pat, who taught me to knit and is finally on Ravelry now!  Yay!  There are more cute Tim and Andy pictures on her project page.

The Dinosaur Surprise Jacket, finished!

I lengthened the sleeves by picking up stitches at the cast on, and knit garter stitch in the round on Magic Loop, then finished with 1×1 ribbing. Each sleeve is about 4″ longer (he’s pretty lanky), and I think the fit is pretty good. He insisted on putting it on over a sweater he was already wearing, so it looks bulkier than it would be otherwise. The neckline is definitely too big though, so next time I seam BSJ shoulders I will do straight one garter ridge per purl stitch, rather than trying to fudge it so it lays nicely.

Back view of lengthened sleeves

The join is not quite invisible. I read that a long tail cast-on makes for a less visible join, and a provisional cast-on would be even better. Another suggestion I read was to knit the cuffs first, then cast-on the stitches in between. Also, I would have cast on an extra 9 stitches on each cuff and then decrease in the lengthening process, because in the pattern, you increase to create a blousy effect on the short cuff, so for me, that wide part ends up around the elbow.

Front closeup of sleeve

Oops. It’s not too noticeable when worn.

I found some fun dinosaur buttons at JoAnn’s. They pick up the green part of Amy Boogie’s Dinosaur colorway really nicely.

Close up again

I plan to knit another BSJ soon, but for an actual baby (a college friend is expecting a baby boy), so I won’t need to fiddle with the pattern nearly as much!

Since I finished one project, I decided to cast-on for another. It’s the Boatneck Bluebell from Stefanie Japel’s Fitted Knits, and I’m using Malabrigo worsted merino in Brown Berries. It’s the yarn my sister picked out to knit a sweater for me, but she doesn’t have time to knit these days, so she gave me the yarn to knit a sweater for myself. I love the colors! Pink and brown are just so elegant together. And soooooo soft! I know it’s going to pill like crazy (like my Tilted Duster), but that’s okay.

Boatneck Bluebell in Malabrigo Brown Berries

So far, it’s a nice easy knit. I’m enjoying the top-down raglan construction, though I have had to frog back twice now, first because my gauge is off (19 stitches/4″ on a size 8 needle), and I ended up with a 32″ measurement instead of the 33″ it’s supposed to be, so I added two more increase rows. Then I’ve been fiddling with the placement of the horizontal purl ridges under the bust. If you follow the pattern exactly and you’re knitting the smallest size, those ridges end up a lot higher than on the sweater pictured in the book. So I tried adding rows to make those ridges lower, but it turned out not so flattering for my not-so-abundant figure. From looking at all the examples on Ravelry, it looks good on a lot of people without modifying the pattern to try to look like the picture, so I will try it that way and see how it goes.

Boatneck Bluebell raglan increases

I feel bad casting on for something else while I’m still working on my hubby sweater, which is almost up to the armholes, but I needed something mostly stockinette for when I can’t concentrate on it as much.

In my last post about this project, Necia commented on the way garter stitch eats up yarn, especially in bulky, which I think is true. You get a firmer fabric, so it makes sense that it takes up more yarn. Plus, she mentioned that spinning with more twist per inch than commercial yarn eats up more roving too, and those two points probably sum up the reason I ran out of yarn after a pound of roving spun up into about 460 yards..Anyway, Amy of Spunky Eclectic tried valiantly to get me more roving in time for Christmas, and she did get it to me in a timely fashion, but I was so swamped with other holiday stuff that I just didn’t get it done. But now I’ve finished knitting the pattern. I hereby present my garter stitch blob:

Garter Stitch Blob

And surprise! It’s a jacket!

Surprise!  A jacket!

I’ve seen other pretty Baby Surprise Jackets with i-cord or crochet trim, but I like the way it looks “unfinished,” plus I don’t want to add to the weight of an already heavy garment. So I decided on a no-frills shoulder seam. Since I have no experience seaming horizontal to vertical garter stitch, I searched around online for guidance. The most helpful article I found was a post by the Yarn Harlot which showed pictures of the way she stitched each side. I had more vertical garter ribs than horizontal bumps, so I stitched two vertical stitches together a few times on each side. Here’s how it looks:

Shoulder seam

Now with the shoulders seamed up, I was able to put it on my victim finally! Luckily, he put it on willingly, since he’s seen me working on it and is old enough to understand what it’s for. And he likes it!

He likes it!

The fit in the body is surprisingly generous, but the sleeves are really short. I will be lengthening them, for sure. Plus, I haven’t bought buttons yet. I really need to find a good place to buy buttons. I ended up buying cheap buttons at Walmart as temporary ones for my Tilted Duster, to be replaced when I find prettier ones.

Dancing in his surprise jacket

Here’s a side/back view:

Side/back view

And here’s one I just couldn’t resist. Please don’t be offended. He doesn’t mean it!

Oops!  An unintended rude gesture

So after spinning and knitting the whole 8oz of Dinosaur, and the 8oz of “special brown” superwash merino from Spunky Eclectic, I still ran out of yarn! I even unraveled my swatch and got a few rows out of that. So close to the end too, all I have left is 3 rows! I thought about just leaving it at that, but my sister Pat said that I’d be happier with it if I truly finished it, and she’s right. I still want to lengthen the sleeves too. So Amy is kindly dyeing more fiber for me. Again! I asked for another 8oz which will be plenty, with leftovers for something else, maybe a hat to match.

Dragon Surprise Jacket, not quite finished

Lessons learned: For your first time spinning yarn for a specific project, find a pattern that gives specific gauge, sizing, and yardage! AKA, not the Baby Surprise Jacket. Also, downsizing the Adult Surprise Jacket may have been a better idea than trying to knit a bulky Baby Surprise. But this was definitely fun and quick to knit, so whenever a baby occasion comes up, I’ll be happy to whip up one of these again.

Yesterday was my sister Pat’s birthday, and I gave her the fingerless mitts I knit out of the first yarn I spun on my wheel, which I have been keeping secret. They can now be revealed!

Pat wearing handspun fingerless mitts!

  • Pattern: Lace Mitts from Too Much Wool
  • Yarn: My handspun from Spunky Eclectic BFL in Mahogany, 2-ply, 15 wpi
  • Needles: Bryspun circular size 4
  • Gauge: 5 stitches per inch in stockinette
  • Mods: Changed yarnovers to M1’s for slightly warmer mitts, changed stitch count to 36 around, used Ann Budd’s “Handy Book of Patterns” for thumb gusset structure

The yarn was somewhat thick and thin, and underspun in places but knit up beautifully. I finished them on 11/9/07, and as expected, they are fraternal in terms of the color changes. I did take out some sections of yarn that were glaringly different and would make them look unrelated rather than fraternal.. And the thumb is longer on the second one than on the first. I always have trouble getting pairs of things to match exactly when I don’t knit them at the same time..

As you can see in the picture, she likes them! I thought they’d be good for cold New England evenings when she has to do a lot of computer work. Here they are close up.

Finished handspun mitts!

I also gave her Woolpets needle felting kits that I got from The Loopy Ewe. One bunny and one sleepy sheep, which we’ll do over the holiday break. Here she is with her hubby Rob, me, and her kitty cat, Ghirardelli aka Sweetpea.

Pat with Woolpet gifts

Happy birthday, sister!

I’ve reached row 57 of the pattern, and here’s how it looks so far.

The Dragon Surprise Jacket grows

At this point, the sleeves are basically done (except they need lengthening later), and I am turning at the armpit to continue the front and lower body. I put another brown stripe here, will finish up the Dinosaur, and then knit the rest in brown. I’m omitting the “nappy” increases, since Tim is only in diapers for naps and bedtime now. Woohoo!! It’s taken a lot of candy incentives, but he is even pooping in the toilet regularly now. I think it’s been maybe a week since his last poopy diaper. He wants to be a “big boy.” I’m so proud of him!

Sleeve and

Back to the knitting… I’m still not sure if I’ll have enough yarn to finish this, but I will knit on anyway. I have a small skein of Dinosaur left, as well as two skeins of brown. I hope I hope I hope!