Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dollar and a Half Cardigan - Finished!

She’s finally done! This was the hardest project I’ve ever taken on but after pulling on the sleeves and buttoning up the front, it was 100% worth it.
This is the first sweater that I know I’m going to put into a frequent rotation.
I give you, Dollar and a Half Cardigan, by Veronik Avery for Interweave Knits, Spring 2007

Pattern: Dollar and a Half Cardigan by Veronik Avery – Interweave Knits – Spring 2007

Started: July 2007
Break: September – November
Finished: Knitting was finished October 17- all blocked and sewn up – Jan 1st 2007
Yarn: Misti Alpaca
Misti International Alpaca Worsted in 4388 – about 9 skeins. I love this yarn – it is incredibly soft yet incredibly warm. The drape is amazing.
Needles: Used US 5 for the stockinette and size 7 for the lace pattern.
Size: I knitted the smallest size and blocked to a 36 – I wanted this to be tight fitting and after reading so much about how this ran slightly big and knowing I could block it slightly larger – it was the best bet.
Modifications: Not much. The only major change I made was to make the arm length shorter. To do so, I knit 1 ½” of rib (vs 2”) – and started decreasing after a total of 4” (vs 6 ½”)


First, this is definitely a project you want to swatch for. Trust me.

Second, one of the things I covet about knitting blogs and Ravelry – is that you get blow by blow details – telling you what to watch out for, how to approach a stitch or row that only when you get to it do you realize how unbelievable helpful those notes were. This has always been incredibly helpful to me, and I always try and return the favor.
To this end, check out my checklist for a lot of details I have since blocked out. Also, click here if you want the blow by blow on my progress.

This project took its toll on me – no matter how much I love the end product. I will say that without a doubt, the part that threw me over the edge was decreasing in the lace pattern. I invested hours upon hours in trying to get it to work for me but after getting nowhere, I actually had to take a 2 month break from the sweater all together. When I came back, I didn’t nail it the first time – but it started falling into place after about the 5th try. I would recommend checking out details in Ravelry, and there were some helpful tips on the Knit Along.

I will also say that that thing that helped me the most is my notebook. Here is a picture of the two things that I found comfort in, throughout the process:

Every time I start a project I take copious notes – whether it’s the needle size, when I switch balls (so that on the second sleeve, I know how much I’ll need after writing it down through the first). I never remember any of these details so I write it down. With this project I literally wrote down almost every row and what to expect. This is particularly important when doing the lace decreases. Forgetting about decreases, in the lace pattern each row you do ends up with a different number of stitches. When decreasing comes into play – it was CRITICAL for me to know how many stitches I should end up with. Again, there are a lot of tips on how to deal with the decreases in patterns but frankly none of them gave me what I needed. I think I just needed to try, walk away, and come back. Finally it worked.

Finally, I love my mom to death for getting me a blocking board for Christmas. If you don’t have one – I highly recommend it.

Viva La Veronik!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sometimes the Best Solutions are the Easiest

I’m a bit of a hopeful, but lost cause when it comes to decorating. Most of those close to me can attest to my passion for all things decorating – I consume design magazines all the time, I’m a dedicated reader of some of the popular design blogs (mainly Design Sponge and Apartment Therapy) and it’s hard for me to walk by a furniture store without going in.

The break down is that I have a hard time taking what I love, and bringing it into my home. There is some wiring missing. I am a right brain woman. I love math, I love analysis, and I love talking about strategy. I embrace this and it has done me well so far, but I also love design, creativity. But I am an onlooker – I know what I love and I know why I love it but creating it myself is less than intuitive.

Hart and I have lived in this apartment for the past 3 years and the spot above our couch has remained empty. It has been a source of angst for me. About 6 or 7 years ago I fell in love with a painting at a friend’s house and spent the last 3 years, off and on, trying to get one. Fortunately the artist is a friend of my friends, but unfortunately he is taking a “break” from painting. Up until about a month ago, this gaping hole was without a solution.

I’m not sure how or why it took us so long – but we finally decided to fill it ourselves. I am not a modernist, by any means, but if I look hard and what I like, a lot of it is color. So finally, we took action.

With all of the pain and suffering I went through with this empty piece of wall real estate, I can’t overstate how easy this was – once the ball was in motion. We measured, went to the art supply store and ordered a canvas. We had an idea in our head of what we wanted it to look like, which you now see on the wall, but to make sure, we bought a couple of red paints (@$2.00 a tube), a stack of mini canvases (@$5 for 5), a paint brush, and practiced. Once we were satisfied, from white canvas to mounting on the wall took about 24 hours.

getting ready to paint

And hence, sometimes the best solutions are the easiest ones.