Harvest-a-Long: Lessons Learned

There’s a concept used in my industry, probably from a business book no one can remember the name of anymore, known as Lessons Learned. When you finish up a project, the team gets together and thinks about how things could go better the next time. Sure, some whining happens, but the focus is on how you can do things differently to make it all go better next time. 

Lessons learned apply to crafts, too. 

I learn something with every project. Sometimes it’s something little, like that a particular yarn likes to split so the lesson learned is to use a needle with rounded, rather than sharp, tips. Sometimes it’s something you can’t believe you never thought to do differently. 

My Harvest sweater left me some major lessons learned.  Lessons I thought I had learned before. 

*sigh*

Thing is, my sweater doesn’t fit me. I chose the wrong size to make. Got gauge, followed the directions. Doesn’t fit. 

Yep, I wrote a whole post about measuring yourself and choosing a size. Yet, I made the wrong one for me. 

I chose the size exactly the same as my chest measurement, measuring around my widest point in my chest. This means that there was zero ease. 

Lesson One: Cotton does not stretch

Next time I work with this yarn or another cotton, I should add at least and extra inch to account for the fact cotton does not stretch. (And maybe add a bit more if I intend to throw it in the dryer when I’m too impatient to let it dry flat.)

Lesson Two: Remember your body type

Unlike the standard person sweaters are designed for, I have broad shoulders and, well, a small chest. In the future, I need to account for this. 

Amy Herzog has an amazing blog series called Fit to Flatter which is also available in book form. In the post on choosing your sweater size, she describes how to take a better measurement than the tradition chest one. I won’t rehash what she says, but the lesson from Amy for me is that I often need to knit a size or two larger than the pattern calls for. 

The Sweater

I tried on the sweater and even wore it a few times before blocking it. From the start, it felt tight across my shoulders and I couldn’t quite close it. After blocking it via washer and dryer, it is not at all flattering. And, worse, it’s just not comfortable. Here’s a photo I took of me trying it on, about the only photo I have of me wearing it. Notice how it won’t close, yet bunches at my armpits. Signs of a poor fit. 


Don’t worry, though, the sweater will not be relegated to the back of my closet. I’m lucky to have a friend for whom the sweater is a perfect fit. It’s actually winging its way across town (so more like fighting I-66 traffic) to my friend KO to keep her warm on chilly days at work. 

I will knit myself another sweater one of these days. And I will remember my lessons learned.  (Either way, I’ll blog about it, you can be sure.)

Advertisements
Harvest-a-Long: Lessons Learned

Harvest-a-long: Finale!

Congrats, you’ve made it to the end of your cardigan! You’ve finished knitting it! Oh, blocking, you say? Yeah…that.

I have to admit, I’m rather bad at blocking things which are lace or socks. Lace is straight-forward – you use wires or pins and stretch it out until the straight lines all line up and your lace has “opened up” as much as you’d like. Socks, you just wet, throw them onto a blocking mat, and wait forever for them to dry.

This sweater, well, it’s a bit harder. If you’re yarn is not machine washable and dryable – like mine – you’ll want to block it by laying it flat on a level surface. I won’t go into the details though Tin Cat Knits offers advice on the pattern and you can Google it. Just know that blocking your sweater is important and, like ironing in sewing, gives you the best final product. Take your time. Don’t pull it up until it’s TOTALLY dry, no matter how tempted you may be to wear it ever-so-slightly damp.

Next time, I hope to share photos of my finished sweater and, in a few weeks, those of my friends and coworkers I somehow convinced to do this with me. For now, you can laugh at the photo I took just after I wore the ends in my sweater, on a train full of commuters from York to London.

Harvest-a-long: Finale!

Visit to Trefriw Wool Mill

(Back in a few days with another installment for the Harvest-a-long because knitting the body of a sweater takes forever and doesn’t need another post.)

While on vacation in Wales, we visited the Trefriw Wool Mill. The ill makes both yarn and traditional Welsh woven fabrics from that wool. They very happily welcome guests to take their own tour of their mill which is entirely powered by hydroelectric power. I won’t beleaguer it with lots of words. Let’s just say I was in heaven and very sad I wasn’t there on a day the shop that sells their wool was open.

Visit to Trefriw Wool Mill

Harvest-a-long: Body Builder

This week, we’ll focus on the body of the sweater. The body of this particular sweater is both good and bad, in terms of the knitting. The Good – once you’re done with the increases, it’s smooth sailing to the bottom edge. The Bad – it’s all. the. same. thing. for INCHES after the increases.

The Increases

I’ll admit that I wrote out these rows because, well, I’m not so good at paying attention to something that happens every four rows (those increases). For my size, I had to make 8 total increase rows, so 32 total rows of knitting before I could turn my brain off.

 

The Body

Okay, so making the body is really, really boring, because it’s just garter – stockinette – garter for row after row. But, just think! You now have the perfect project for a long car ride (when you’re not driving, obvs), binging on Netflix, waiting for that friend who’s always late for a dinner reservation…just enjoy the ride and the easy knitting.

Bottom Edge

Before you start the bottom edge, I recommend trying on your sweater and making sure it really is the specified length shorter than your total desired length. Best to have a friend help you with this, as you may be like me and nearly knock a good ten stitches off of your needle. Not a good thing.

When you’re ready to start the bottom edge, switch to your smaller needle (which should be in the bag with the yarn you haven’t used because you listened to my advice to gather all of your materials, right?). Then just knit, knit, knit until you’re done and bind off. You’ll want to use a somewhat stretchy bind-off so the stitches don’t flair.

An Aside: Things to Watch or Listen To

…or, what Angela listened to or watched while knitting the body of her sweater or something else equally, well, boring.

  • If you have a kid with you: Sarah and Duck, Stinky and Dirty Show, Bubble Guppies
  • If you’re feeling nostalgic: Cheers, Golden Girls
  • If you want to laugh: Glow, listen to anything by David Sedaris
  • If you’re also into celebrity memoirs (listing author because I cannot remember the book names): Anna Kendrick, Rainn Wilson, Rob Lowe
  • If you haven’t already listened: any of the Harry Potter books, as produced by Pottermore

Next Time: Sleeve Island

Harvest-a-long: Body Builder

Harvest-a-long: Let’s get started

Hello, all, and welcome to the official start of the Harvest-a-long!

It’s currently noon (or will be, when this post actually shows up) here on the East Coast, so time to pick up your larger size needles and waste yarn (with your project yarn close at hand) and cast on.

(First, a bit of a confession. I started my sweater last Saturday in order to show you guys what each step will look like as you get to it. Those are the photos you’ll see here. In the spirit of the KAL, though, I will be starting on a mini version for Lizzie when ya’ll start at noon.)

The Collar

This pattern starts by doing a provisional cast-on then knitting a long and skinny garter-stitch piece to make the collar. While the pattern calls for a crochet provisional cast-on, I’ll be honest that I’ve never figured it out so I went with a basic knitted cast on. I was too excited to actually start cranking out the collar to show you a picture of that, of course.

At the end of the collar, you’ll place a marker in a designated spot, rotate 90 degrees, then pick up along that long side edge – the one with the two knit stitches next to each other.


Placing the marker near the edge

When you’re picking up your edge stitches, be sure to pay attention to the pick-up rate for your size. (In my case, this meant picking up three for every four stitches.) If you’re never knit a collar like this, don’t worry, it’s supposed to look sort of funny. Because you’re on a circular needle and have gone around a hard edge like that, you’re knitting will sort of curve.

After getting all of those edge stitches, you’ll unzip – but go slow! – your provisional cast-on and pick up those last loops. It’ll look something like this.


Lovely, bendy collar after all stitches are picked-up

Cranking Through the Increases

The last step before you start the increases it to, not surprisingly, put in four markers. These markers will let you cruise along without having to constantly count. Just remember, you’ll always knit to your first and after the last marker and increases are placed one stitch away from each increase marker. Also, I will not judge you if you have to write out the rows at this point, with wondering if you’re on the row where you have an extra increase along the button band edge.


Exciting action shot! Okay, not really, but it’s a photo I had.

Separating the Sleeves

You’ll need your waste yarn again, cut into a good foot-long length, just to be safe. When the pattern tells you to do so – you’ll also have a marker on either side of those stitches – you’ll carefully move the stitches from your needle onto that waste yarn.

I tend to move stitches over in pairs, so it’s pretty low risk if a stitch decides to jump off your knitting needle or the needle with the waste yarn.

My first sleeve, on the waste yarn (and before I tied the ends of the waste yarn together – really important!

Next, you’re going to cast on a given number of under-arm stitches. Trust me, no ones under-arm stitches look quite right for a few rows. I’ve tried just about every sort of cast-on and they always wind up sort of wonky.

Next time…increases for the front and the body!

(Want to share your project with me and other KAL participants? Mark your post with #harvestalong and #oneliferecorded. I’m hoping to share some of YOUR photos in a future post!)

Harvest-a-long: Let’s get started

Harvest-a-long: Final Preparations

Everyone figured out their size, bought their yarn, and figured out what needles you’ll use (after swatching!)? Let’s finish our prep, so we can start this thing next Saturday.

Getting it All Together

After years of doing otherwise, I’m now fully on-board with the idea of gathering all of my materials for a given project in one place. I’d recommend you do the same. Print your pattern then put it together with stitch markers, some waste yarn (more on that in a second), needles (remember, you need two sizes!), a pen or pencil (to mark progress), and, well, the yarn you’re using to make the sweater. If you’re using a yarn that has to be wound, wind all of what you think you’ll use now. If you’re on the cusp of needing a new hank, hold off on winding that last one but stick in your bag.

On-the-go Knitters, a Special Note

If you’re someone who knits on the go, I’d go with at least 200 yards of yarn plus all of the notions in your knitting bag. (And you should be good with just the first page  – second page of the PDF – of the pattern for awhile.) Everything else, put in a place you can find EASILY. I tend to keep my WIP materials on the top of my yarn storage, in either a giant Zipolock or a grocery store bag.

Waste Yarn

Use a waste – which I wrote as “wasted” the first time – yarn that’s 1) worsted weight, 2) isn’t particularly splitty, and 3) is a very different color than your working yarn. If possible, find something non-variegated as it’ll be even easier to see what’s your working yarn and what’s waste yarn. I’d even go as far, in terms of prep, to say you should cut yourself four (yeah, you only need two, but who hasn’t lost a piece?) lengths of this waste yarn, about 18″ long. That way, you won’t *have* to find scissors to cut it from the ball or whatever. I’m going to use Peaches and Cream in this weird orange color.

Pattern Prep

I can be a bit…distracted when I knit. See, I tend to knit when I’m watching TV or riding in the car, so I don’t want to have to stop, put down my knitting, and try to figure out what the pattern is saying or telling me to do. Because of this, I like to mark up my patterns quite a lot. It starts with the size marking and, for this one, you really need to make sure you pay attention to which of the, what, 50, sizes is yours. Count twice for each bracketed set of instructions. I also like to make myself little tally blocks and, if I really think I’m going to be confused or one of those “At the same time…” sections comes up, I write the pattern out, row by row.

Next Time on Harvest-a-long…

We actually knit something! I’ll show you the first few steps of the collar and starting the yoke.

Harvest-a-long: Final Preparations

Knitterly Confessional: WIP and UFO Counts

I have to level with you guys…until this afternoon, I couldn’t accurately tell you how many WIPs and UFOs I had. I knew there were a good amount but that’s about it. I’ve been in the habit of starting a bunch of different things in a couple day period, then only sticking with working on one or two of them. Instead of pulling out progress on anything I didn’t want to work, it just got put in a bag or shoved not-so-nicely into my yarn storage cubbies. In the spirit of Spring Cleaning, I decided it was about time I get honest with myself about all that I wasn’t actually working on.

What I Remembered

Rainbow Socks

I bought this yarn a few weeks ago at MD S&W and promptly finished the first sock. Then, they sort of lagged because I was in the mood for a larger project. I’d say these are a WIP, not a UFO, because I really do intend to finish them by the end of June. (Pattern: Charybdis by Fiona Bennett / Yarn: Knittyandcolor Acoustic Sock in Milky Way)

Black and Blue Brickless

This was started around the time of MD S&W, about when I started to feel guilty for not having used up yarn I got around the same time last year. I love the pattern but the yarn is rather dark so was annoying me to knit with it. There were also some really warm days about then and the last thing I wanted was worsted weight knitting on my lap. (Pattern: Brickless by Martina Behm / Yarn: Neighborhood Fibre Company Studio Worsted in OOAK colorway)

The Itchy (But Very Lovely) Sweater

Oh, this sweater. I knit the entire body then tried it on to realize it makes me itch. I pushed myself before to make the sleeves and picked up on side of the edging but it stalled. Certainly a UFO but I would like to finish this and pass it off to someone by the end of the summer. (Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig / Yarn: BC Garn Semilla Fino in Ox)

The Blue and Gray Blanket

We have one family member and two sets of friends expecting this fall, so I’ve got lots of baby knitting in my future. I started a blanket a few weeks ago but just got bored with it. I let myself get bored because I’ve still got months to knit. (Pattern: Made up but inspired by a pattern whose name I can’t remember / Yarn: Berroco Pure Wool in dark gray, lighter turquoise, and – once I add it – darker turquoise)

The Active WIP

I just started this last night, so it would be rather hard to forget about it. After finishing up a sweater for Lizzie – future post coming! – I still have an entire ball and then some of the yarn left. One of Lizzie’s teachers lost everything in a house fire. Her most important needs being taken care of, I wanted to knit her something to bring her comfort, but replacing the scarf of the same pattern I’d made for her earlier this year. (Pattern: Riparian Entertainment by Heather R. Robinson / Yarn; Neighborhood Fibre Company Studio Sock in Olde Town East)

What I Forgot

The Bat S**t Crazy Cowl

Started who knows when but, like many other things, abandoned because it’s boring. I pulled out my progress on this. (Pattern: Uhhh? / Yarn: Miss Babs Yummy 2-Ply in Bat S**t Crazy)

The Other Riparian Entertainment

No clue on this one, just recognize the pattern. Maybe started in February? Another one where I frogged the very little progress I’d made, so far. (Pattern: Riparian Entertainment / Yarn: Regia? Something I got in Germany, for sure.)

The Leftover Honey Cowl

In April (?), I bought a lot of Socks that Rock Heavyweight off of someone who was selling it via Instagram. I’m a big fan of DK for heavier things so jumped at the very good deal. After making two different cowls from the partial skeins she sold me, I started this one. (Yeah, those are a future post topic, too.) I like how the colors are blending, so far, so this one is in a bag, waiting for me to work on it again. I often get really into heavier-weight cowls so it will be nice to have this one already going. (Pattern: Honey Cowl by Antonia Shankland / Yarn: Socks That Rock Heavyweight in, well, I have no idea what colorway)

The Blanket Made in Pieces

Soon as I saw the Tin Can Knits collection this is in, I had to make this blanket. I quickly whipped up as many of the motifs as I could make from a single ball of the yarn,…then fizzled out. I held onto the motifs I’ve made as I really would like to make Lizzie a small lap blanket with them and a dark gray. (Pattern: Polygon from Tin Cat Knits / Yarn: Berroco Pure Wool)

The Other, Other Baby Blanket

I started this right after my post about baby knits. Yep, got bored with it. I pulled this out today, in favor of making a different pattern. (Pattern: Four Corners Blanket by Rina Shaikh-Lesko / Yarn: Berroco Pure Wool)

The Too-Dark Socks

I have a coworker who saw me working on the toe of these and instantly claimed them (don’t worry, she’s knit-worthy). But the yarn is just too dark for me to knit into socks. I pulled out my progress and will probably use the yarn to make a shawl or something on bigger needles. (Pattern: I have no idea… / Yarn: Miss Babs Yummy 2-Ply)

The Adorable Sweater Dress

After Lizzie really loved her dress I made for her birthday, I decided to make her another. I remember putting this aside in favor of something with more of a deadline but I have no idea what that was now. (Pattern: Kelsey by Kelly Menzies / Yarn: Louisa Harding Yarns Cassia Prints)

 

When did you last get honest with yourself about how many WIPs and UFOs you have? Are you as forgetful as me?

Knitterly Confessional: WIP and UFO Counts