Amy Artisan

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Category: Sweaters (page 1 of 2)

On the Podium…

Back in 2006, I was just dipping my toes into blogging when the Yarn Harlot announced the first Knitting Olympics event. Since the Artisan family has frequently crafted during the Olympics, I was game for it. I attempted my first lace project with mixed results…yes it was completed in time but it now serves as a table cover instead of a shawl. In 2008, I went for a do-over & selected the same lace pattern in a different yarn. This time, the results were wearable!

Late last year, I started to think about what my winter Olympic knit challenge would be – since I’m currently on the road for work with plenty of evening knit time in the hotel room, I thought grander than before…what about knitting a cardigan? The pattern was selected, the yarn was ordered, the perfect buttons were found…I swatched and was ready to go. As the opening ceremonies began, I cast on for the sweater & quickly got going. Before long I was at my first roadblock…umm, I started with the larger needle & it should have been the smaller…so I started over again. By the end of the opening weekend, I was about 3/4 of the way through the yoke of the sweater & feeling pretty confident.

I figured that I would make great progress on the body of the cardigan that first week in the evenings. Work had different ideas & I think I knit maybe 10 rows by the time I came home. At this point I seriously questioned my choice of knit for the Olympics & was already preparing for defeat…seriously, why would I think I could tackle this? However, once I was back home my focus for that weekend was knitting on the sweater and by the time the weekend was done I had finished the body of the cardigan and starting on the first sleeve.

Once again I headed north with grand plans for evening progress. On Monday night I was making great progress…until I realized that I had completely misread the decrease instructions for the sleeves & had to rip back about 30 rows. Because I had picked up more stitches for the arm I then had to do a bit of scribbling on the hotel notepad to rework my decrease approach would be. On Tuesday evening I had recovered from the rip back and on Wednesday evening I thought I was ready for the final edging – but I held off till Thursday to confirm that I liked the length of the sleeve. On Thursday evening I finished off the first sleeve.

On Friday, I was up early to drive home & then had a bit of work that I needed to do. Just before 4PM I started on sleeve #2 and was finishing it up at 11PM. On Saturday morning I quickly got started on the button bands. Then the cardigan took a bath (Soak Celebration seemed appropriate) & overnight it dried with a fan on it on the dining room floor. On Sunday morning I sewed on the beautiful buttons & had a lovely sweater. (An overcast day & a temperamental camera remote make for few modeled shots.)

The details: Green Tea for the Gold!

Tea Leaves Cardigan in GoGo Grassy Dream in Color Classy with Buttons from Jennie the Potter

(Journal of the event in Ravelry)

Artistic Points: I went with 3 buttons instead of 2; I knit the body about an extra inch; I centered the buttonholes in the middle of each gathered section of the yoke; For the sleeves I ended up with 78 stitches on the needle – so I did the decrease row every 5 rows for a total of 10 times; I went with about 3/4 length sleeves

Technical Deductions: I’m very dissatisfied with the yarn – I have knit with Dream in Color in the past & have made some great smaller items. The color contrasts among the skeins of this “non lot numbered” yarn were vast & not always evident until the skein was wound up. Most of the body of the cardigan is striped because I had to alternate 2 skeins of yarn every 2 rows. I think this is a single skein project yarn only from here on out.

Overall Score: Wow – I can’t believe I knit this in 2 weeks!

Now that the Olympic torch has been extinguished, I’m still a bit in awe that I knit an entire sweater (with sleeves) in 2 weeks…and after so much knitting time in such a short window it is time to rest the needles for a bit & switch gears – evenings in the hotel are for reading this week…but the needles are calling & I plan to cast on a “reward” project this weekend with my Olympic Medals yarn…

Got Gauge?

At some point in your knitting life, you learn the importance of “getting gauge” in a knitting pattern. Too loose, the object will come out too big – too tight, too small.

My first introduction to the importance of gauge was in a knitting class in 2003 or 2004. The LYS offered a pillow class that looked like a real skill builder: using a Jo Sharp Home pattern book we would knit 2 pillow tops (from different patterns) and end up with one complete pillow. The skills to learn: side 1 was a simple intarsia; side 2 was cables and button holes.

When I registered for the class, I was given the pattern book and guided to pick out the yarn and needles. I selected 2 beautiful shades of the Jo Sharp Silk Road & the needles that were listed in the book.

In the first class session, we immediately cast on for side 1 and by the end of the evening I was juggling both colors of yarn. I think it was the 3rd session when we started on side 2. Right away, everyone noticed that their own sets did not match up. The shop owner was less than helpful in explaining what gauge was & that we should have each done a gauge swatch before getting started. In the 4th session, we were supposed to assemble the pillows by seaming the 2 sides.

My side 1 was very loose and it was easy to see that my side 2 was very tight – there was no way that they would match up to form a pillow. Once I came to the realization that I would not end up with one pillow I came up with a new plan: 2 pillows. Side 1 would form a large floor pillow. For Side 2, I decided to only knit half the pattern and make a sofa pillow. Artisan Mom found some fun upholstery fabric for the backings.

Since then, many of my projects didn’t rely on guage – I think part of that might be because I had such a bad first experience with gauge. Before I embarked on my first sweater, I did knit a gauge swatch & at the end of all the knitting the sweater pretty much blocked to the measurements.

With the start of a new year, it was time for a new gauge swatch…yep, it’s time to cast on for another sweater! What’s on the needles this time? I’m following the crowd to the February Lady Sweater. This past weekend of winter hibernation was a great time to get going on this project. So far, it’s going well and I’m enjoying the project. As I’m working the yoke section, it’s a great chance to use several of the fun stitch markers that I’ve acquired. While I’m not setting a deadline for completion, it would indeed be fun to have this off the needles at some point in February.

The bitter cold winter weather continues – in fact, the reflection of all the snow outside made for a “natural” lightbox this afternoon as I was taking pictures. With all of the cold and snow, I envision lots of knitting time for this project in the coming weeks.


All last week the forecast was showing that new snow would be here for the weekend. On Thursday, the forecasted snowfall totals for Friday/Saturday were stepped up a bit. It quickly became evident that this weekend might be a good one to hibernate at home. Friday morning’s commute was a bit longer than normal because the first round of snow was coming in. Thankfully, the rest of the snow held off until I was back home before dinnertime.

(click the picture for details)

I woke up on Saturday morning to quite a bit of snow on the ground and it kept falling all day. The neighborhood soundtrack throughout the day was filled with shovels scraping the pavement, wheels spinning in the snow/slush and the whir of snow blowers. Before long, lawn chairs were out in the street as parking spot placeholders.

My “goals” for the weekend were simple.

  • Never ending pot of coffee: The french press was in constant use all weekend – the It’s a Grind Winter Blend is my current favorite. A bit of Italian Sweet Cream creamer & my sheep mug made it perfect.
  • Finish holiday cards: Umm, I had good intentions of getting cards out at Christmas and then life got in the way. So I’m going with a “New Year’s” approach instead. Signed, sealed & ready to go in the mail tomorrow.
  • New knitting project: I cast on a for a new “big” knitting project & have been making great progress on it. As the inches of snow increased, so did the inches of blue garter stitch. More details later this week.
  • Order 2008 pictures for scrapbook: It’s January – time for a scrapbooking retreat in 2 weeks, so I had fun going through the past year & figuring out what pictures to be ordered.
  • Catch up on Netflix: Ladies in Lavender and The Ballet Shoes were perfect knitting flicks.
  • Make a pot of soup: At the grocery store on Thursday evening I decided that I was in the mood for a pot of cauliflower soup. I found a couple of good recipes on a few food blogs & ended with my own hybrid that hit the spot (roast the cauliflower, onions & garlic before going into the pot, add some walnuts in with the ‘normal’ ingredients – blend it all together- yum!). Since I had the big pot out from the back of the cabinets, today I decided to make a big pot of chili for this week & the freezer.
  • Read: Between Christmas gifts and library books I had no shortage of reading material. This weekend it was The Reverend Guppy’s Aquarium and The Lace Reader.

I had hoped to head over to Jen’s for a bit of knitting this afternoon; however, I feel like I’m fighting off the start of a cold so I’ll continue to hibernate. (And be very grateful for a building mate who shoveled my side of the garage!) The snow is definitely getting old this winter – there have been too many long commutes in the snow, slush & slick. It was nice to enjoy this snow storm from inside my cozy home.

Never Say Never!

As a child, you associate September with the start of school and learning new things. These days I associate September with learning stitches: September 1997: Grandma teaches me to knit; September 2001: I pick up the knitting needles again in earnest; September 2007: 10 years of knitting & I begin to knit a sweater; September 2008: 1st Sweater complete!

While the elapsed time to complete this sweater is indeed one year (ugh!) – the actual knit time was much, much less. The back half was knit from October through New Year’s Day – in the midst of a fair chunk of holiday knitting. The front half was off the needles in early April. And then…both pieces sat & sat – all through the spring & summer. After I finished my Olympic shawl in August I knew that one of the next things would be finishing up my sweater. The trip home to the Ville was the perfect catalyst to get it finished so that I could show it to Grandma & have the backyard as a backdrop for pictures. As September rolled in, there was a bit of crisp in the air that helped spur me along to block, seam & finish the sweater on September 7th.

It was fun to walk into Grandma’s den wearing my new sweater. The conversation went like:

Me: Look at the sweater I knit, Grandma.
Gma: Oh my!
Me: When you taught me to knit dishcloths, did you ever think I’d knit a sweater?
Gma: Well…no…
Me: Me neither!

Overall, I’m very pleased with the sweater. I made some dumb mistakes along the way that involved frogging back a couple of times. When I blocked the sweater I was concerned that it was much larger than the pattern measurements – but when it was all seamed together & I tried it on I didn’t end up with a tunic sweater like I thought I might. My sweater isn’t nearly as scoop necked as the one in the pattern picture. And when I went to pick up stitches on the neck & armbands I couldn’t get near the number of stitches picked up as the pattern indicated. I could rip back the bands and try again but I would rather move forward with my knitting.

When I first picked out this pattern, I envisioned wearing a white blouse underneath. Now that it is finished, it’s obvious that it is more of a ‘knit top’ sweater. Over the weekend I found a berry colored long sleeved t-shirt that brings out the berry thread in the “blueberry mix” of the yarn.

The Details: Sleeveless Top from Knit Simple, Fall 2007 (rav link)
Yarn: Berreco Ultra Alpaca in Blueberry Mix – less than 5 skeins
Needles: Addis size 8 & 9
Started: September 2007; Finished: September 7, 2008
Modificiations: Fewer picked up stitches for the arm bands and neck band

And now, the weather here in Chicago has had a hint of the fall- before long this sweater will indeed be part of my wardrobe.

What a journey of stitches I have been on since the hat class several years ago where I commented “it’s not like I’ll ever make a sweater.” This was an enjoyable project and it was exciting to think about making an actual piece of clothing instead of just an accessory. Since I cast on for the sweater I have indeed queued a couple of other sweaters to make. I have several holiday knitting projects to get through in the coming weeks; however, I anticipate that it won’t be long until I have another sweater on the needles. Thanks to all of you for your words of encouragement on the journey of the first sweater – I’m glad to be finished!

Allright, Mr. DeMille…

I’m ready for my close-up!


It’s been a long time coming…blocked…seamed…finished!

I’m off to the ‘Ville for a quick weekend with the family.
The sweater is in the suitcase for a photo shoot. More details when I get back!

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