A Shot in the Arm (or A Kick in the Pants)


So yes, I joined another KAL with the intention of getting my sock knitting mojo back. If you recall a while back I tried to use the lovely Pagewood Farms Superwash sock yarn on the Dunes of Tinfou socks (pictures over at Raverly) which didn't turn out the way I planned. I then tried it in the Ribbed Lace pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks, but I just wasn't feeling the love. Then I saw Yarnissima's beautiful pattern, Firestarter, over at Peaknit's blog. (Stacey is hosting the KAL too, by the way.) The socks look really interesting, and challenging, and I thought that maybe this might be just the thing to pull me out of my sock slump. But as you may have noticed, I have rather a lot of projects all going at the same time right now (at the time, three scarves, two sweaters, and a shawl, albeit in the timeout corner, not to mention the couple of thing that are almost certainly destined for frogland). So I told myself I could not cast on for the Firestarters until at least one of the scarves was off the needles.

Exhibit A.


How's that for a kick in the pants? Entrelac Scarf is, in fact, off the needles. It's having a little soak right now, and of course, it isn't really done yet given I haven't decided what to do about the back side (still toying with the idea of sewing something soft to the back...) but the important point is that the knitting is done. Gentlemen (and women), start your engines.

Speaking of finished items, Mrs. Darcy is also finished! Mrs. Darcy is the brainchild of Mary Weaver and I found her on Ravelry.


Unfortunately I had really poor luck with the photography this time. Trying to take photos on a timer in the middle of the town square while trying to not look like the Town Crazy is harder than you might think. You've seen the other one from yesterday already, and that's pretty much all you're going to get, with one exception. I'll give it another go some other time. I made quite a few modifications, so here we go:

Pattern: Mrs. Darcy by Mary Weaver
Yarn: Beaverslide Dry Goods Fisherman (Aran) Weight 100% wool in Dusty Clover, just under 4 skeins (210 yds/113g per skein)
Needles: US size 8 aluminum straights for the body, Knitpicks Options dpns US size 8 for the sleeves
Size: 36"
Gauge: 16 stitches and 24 rows = 4"
Started: 20 September 2007
Finished: 13 October 2007
Pattern Mods: I wanted a rather more fitted cardigan so I calculated (and recalculated) nearly every aspect of the sweater. I started with the prescribed number of stitches and followed the directions though the ribbing (except I did twisted ribbing on every row instead of every other row as given in the pattern - this meant purling through the back loop on wrong-side rows, a royal pain, but ultimately worth it). I then added some waist decreases to fit me more snugly 10 stitches total), paired with some waist increases, up the back. I mirrored the shaping on the fronts. For all the shaping I used paired increases/decreases. (The pattern only uses only one type, which the perfectionist in me found unacceptibly obvious.) I did not bind off the shoulders but instead did a 3 needle bind off. I decided to knit the sleeves in the round to make the twisted rib easier. I also started the sleeves on only 30 stitches, instead of 40, since I have bird arms and thought that 40 would be too wide. The first sleeve was both far too snug and far, far too long. I reknit the sleeves starting with 36 stitches and made them 2" shorter. I think I also shortened the armscye, and therefore, also the sleeve caps (I had a great deal of anxiety that the sleeves would not set in properly.) I used crab stitch on the back edge of the neck to give it a firmer, more finished look. I used only 2 buttons, and yes, there was some button drama.

The photos above are of the cardigan unblocked, hence the weird wrinkles and folds in the arms. All of the pieces were blocked individually, but not as a whole since being sewn together. I get a nice form fitting fit, and I expect the sweater to relax just a wee bit once blocked, but not in a bad way.

The Good:

Three-needle bind off is my new best friend. I cannot believe I have been binding off and picking up those same stitches for shoulder seams. This pattern does not specify three-needle bind off for the shoulders, I just thought I'd try it out. If you have never done it, quick, knit a sweater so you can. In such a bulky yarn, the shoulder seam could have been really ugly. This sweater had simple shoulder shaping, but next sweater I may try short row shaping for the shoulders as well.

Beaverslide Dry Goods yarn rocks. It is quite squooshy, both in the skein and knitted up, and is soft without feeling delicate. Even against my bare skin it really was not itchy. It almost feels like suede (not kidding), even though it is 100% wool. (They have some other yarns that include some mohair content too.) One thing to note: it does not give really crip stitch definition, so if that's what you're looking for, look elsewhere. The colors are gorgeous though,and vivid, and this one, at least, did not bleed. (Invest in a set of their color cards - they are only $8 and include every single color and type of yarn they produce. They are well worth it.) Did I mention how pretty? The yarn spit-splices really nicely too, and weaving in and securing the ends is a dream, though you'd better mean it because good luck finding the ends again if you need to rip it out for whatever reason.

The Bad:

Knitting sleeves in the round sucks. Actually, knitting sleeves in the round is awesome, no sleeve seam to sew. It's the setting in of said sleeves tha sucks. Royaly. Really. I had a really hard time getting the sleeves to look even ok set into the armscyes. I would rather sew 10 sleeve seams than set in one sleeve already knitted in the round. I really mean it. It's flat sleeves for me from now on.

I am a dork when it comes to making button holes. Or rather, picking buttons that will fit into the button holes in a button band that is not picked up and knitted last but rather knited straight onto the piece. This means that I cannot go back and reknit the button bands without reknitting the entire front side that the button holes are on. This also means that of course the burron holes are too small for the buttons I painstakingly and lovingly picked out. So yeah, since I can easily get into and out of the sweater without unbuttoning it I actually just sewed the button bands together along the entire section that would have otherwise been held closed by the buttons. The buttons are therefore faux. Which is to say, they are real buttons, they just don't do anything. I am such a fake.

The Cool:


Crab stitch makes a really cool firm edging. Who knew? Crab stitch, incidentally, is a type of crochet stitch. It's really easy, but it's been so long since I've done it I had to look it up. I found a great tutorial here. Once you get going there's a rather easier way, but if you have no idea what crab stitch is this is an excellent introduction. Crab stitch is directional, as I found out (the front does not look like the back), so be sure to crochet the single crochet foundation row with the right side of the garment facing you. It almost has the feel and look of piping, or maybe i-cord (although that's speculation since I've never done applied i-cord before).


At 9:34 AM, Blogger Veronique said...

I love your version of Mrs. Darcy :)
Thanks for the Beaverslide review!

At 1:43 PM, Blogger Opal said...

Congratulations on getting the entrelac off the needles! Can't wait to see her blocked.

Mrs. Darcy looks just perfect on you. I'm awed by all the modifications you made. That is some seriously akamai knitterly moves. ;-)

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Marisa Elana said...

Did I mention Rock On?
Oh, and your hair looks great, no matter what your mom says. *grin* And as long as you have style, you can be as crazy as you want.
Also, I have been wearing the first pair of socks you made for me (the short blue ones - right?) and getting buckets of compliments. When it gets cold, people are going to go nuts when they see the rest!

At 8:06 AM, Blogger peaknits said...

I hope this pattern does bring on some sock mojo - I'm a little biased about socks:) But your entrelac is gorgeous soaking away - what a great moment in knitting. And the Darcy sweater is fabulous! Great job!

At 11:28 AM, Blogger schrodinger said...

Oooh, Mr Darcy looks fantastic. I smile at the thought of you running back and forth from the camera to get a good shot :)

The firestarter pattern is pretty good, I love the gusset, but I struggled with following it - I'm not sure if it was me or the pattern, but I got it in the end (however, thinking of ripping it out since it's a bit too big, and I'm not a fan of the yarn/pattern combo) - le sigh. I'll be interested to see what you make of it.

At 1:37 PM, Blogger Ginny said...

I have been meaning to comment on how much I love your Mrs. Darcy sweater. Perhaps it will turn my husband into Colin Firth if I make one too? (NOT that I don't love my husband just how he is, but HI! Colin! Firth!!)

I am so adding this to my Ravelry queue.


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