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Ack – it’s a whole MONTH since I blogged! Somebody up there took my new year’s post about “arduous travels to meet friends ok” a bit literally, and flung me into this mad caper that went from Pune to Delhi to Berkeley to New York to DC to Denver to Hong Kong and back to Delhi last month. Boy was it fun, but fuck, it was exhausting! And if that weren’t bad enough, I have been living in Delhi without continuous internet access. Oh, quel horreur! It’s been quite a revelation, actually – figuring out how much time I suddenly seem to have to read, walk around and, yeah, work! Somehow, the new year also decided to ring out a long-lasting burnout and ring in a much-needed dose of enthusiasm about doing some academic research. So I’ve been slaving away in the archives, excited about scribes and scripts and old, dusty files. Who knows, I might actually write a paper again!
All that time offline also allowed me to finish the BPT sweater:
Truth be told, I finished this nearly three weeks ago. But apart from all the work and stress of setting up a temporary flat, I also got a major case of zipper phobia. I bought a perfectly matching zipper, read all the excellent tutorials out there, and was determined to hand-sew the damn thing in. But every time I sat down to do it, I froze, because I am terrified of the whole process, traumatised by ugly bulges and puckers and loose stitches and needles refusing to pierce the nylon in previous zipper encounters. A tiny voice suggested a button band, or even a set of invisible hooks. I even bought the latter. But a friend with strong opinions insisted I put in the zipper because it would suit the pattern best, and I took a deep breath and sewed it in while watching one of my favourite films of all time, Padosan. Even though I refuse to show you the inside of the sewed up zipper, I think said friend was right after all:
Truth be told again, it’s a very very comfortable sweater. It’s quite chilly in my flat, and it’s perfect to sit around and have chai in and read the paper. But, since truth we are telling, it’s also not very well-fitting. There’s much to fret about, actually. The sleeves are too baggy at the arms and weirdly tapered at the wrist, the neck (which I was quite thrilled with when it was done) has turned out to be a bit loose on the right, the edges roll up a lot sometimes, the yarn is already looking a bit worn, and worst of all, I chose a non-separating zipper!!!!! So I can’t fully separate the cardigan fronts; it’s literally a pullover refusing to let go! But, I like how the pockets turned out, and the yarn mercifully softened up a lot. It was a bitch to knit with, though – like coconut fibre – and it’s so comfortable I am not frogging anything to fix it.
Pattern: BPT, from Knitty
Yarn: New England Highland Worsted in a lovely brick shade, I think I used just under six skeins
Needles: Size 6 throughout
Gauge: 5 spi
1) Made a stiff neck instead of a hood. Mainly because I got tired of knitting with the rough yarn. I picked up stitches all around, knit for ten rounds, knit one garter ridge at the edge to make it easier for it to roll down, and then knit 8 more rounds, and then sewed the live stitches down to the pick-up edge. I had a lot of fun doing this, but am not sure if it contributed to the slight looseness of the neck edge.
2) Made pockets. Picked up stitches and knit straight for a couple of inches, then began the cable at one end, decreasing every knit row along the inner edge of the cable, until I had a pocket size I liked. Then I sewed down the top and sides. Amazingly, the pockets matched, and lined up nicely at the top sewn edge. The pockets really add to the sweater’s loungey feel.
If I knit this one again, I’d watch the sleeve measurements more closely and fudge the numbers, to make it fit me better. But other than that, it’s a clean, neat and simple pattern; results in a very pleasing sweater, despite all my grumbling about the things that went awry.
It’s already warming up in Delhi, but I can still wear this in the late evenings and early mornings for a couple weeks more, I think. Perfect end to the cold weather!
(I found a cafe that offers free wireless broadband here, so hopefully I’ll be able to blog more regularly… fingers crossed.)
*Before anyone raps me for flaming the designer and her chosen title for the pattern, rest assured this elaboration of the abbreviation BPT is merely a description of my version, and not intended at the original…
This BPT sweater should be going quickly, given that it’s mostly stockinette, and I’m on a decreasing spiral, which means there’s less and less every round. I really should get cracking on this, given that I am travelling a lot this month and have tons of airplane, bus and train time, especially mindless movies to go with the long airplane journeys. But it’s taken me nearly two weeks to finish one sleeve, and am very bored with the second.
Why is this? Part of it, I suspect, has to do with the yarn, which is rather rough and annoying to work with, and I can’t seem to do more than a few rounds at a time. But part of it is, I realised, the awkwardness of working sleeves in the round on a seamless raglan. You have to move around the whole bloody sweater every round or two, and because of the small (and decreasing!) circumference, it gets very heavy and cumbersome. I don’t like carrying a nearly-done sweater around everywhere, but that’s the only way this thing is going to get done soon. Anyone else have that problem? Next time I do a seamless raglan, after I divide for the armholes I’m doing the sleeves first and then the body. Somehow it seems like two sleeves flapping merrily around will be marginally easier than the whole body pirouetting madly under the tube of a sleeve hanging by dpns.
At least it fits alright. Am not so happy with the sleeves above the armholes. I think there should have been fewer stitches to cinch them in a bit, but now the only way I can fix that is to undo the whole sweater – um, I think I can live with the tiny bulge at the raglans. It’s a clever pattern, though. I keep wishing I was knitting it in Cascade 220 instead. It’s also no-to-ri-ous-ly difficult to photograph clearly – I assure you it’s not felted, even though the photos make it seem like it is! It isn’t even fuzzy, really. I wonder why the fabric looks so matted, despite tons of focusing and adjusting in all kinds of light and angles. Ah well. Am soon going to have to wonder about two things – 1) hood or collar? and 2) pockets or not? I’m thinking hood and pocket just to go with the overall slouchy look, with mirrored cables along the diagonal pocket openings. Opinions?
Today my blog is three years old. It feels like only yesterday that it turned two, even though this has been an horribly long and exhausting year. When I came to India a few months ago I was worried that with the higher temperatures the knitting would fall by the wayside and then so would the blog. But with each passing year I realise how prescient and apt my choice of tag-line was. The blogging (about the knitting, but much else besides, as it turns out!) really does keep me sane through some incredible highs and lows in my life. I hope I don’t tire of it anytime soon – or do you, my dear readers. Incidentally, my stats have spiked quite a bit in recent months, but I don’t really have an idea from the comments about who many of the new readers are – If you are a relatively new visitor, knitter or non-knitter, I hope you’ll stop to say hello today! I’m curious.
Above is another reason to celebrate. Much of the BPT sweater you see above was knit watching the glorious India-Australia cricket test series (The Border-Gavaskar Trophy), which India won 2-0, giving the Aussies a severe drubbing. I watched a well-played, drama-filled test series after years and it was most wonderful. Watching the Indian team, which has always specialised in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, methodically beat the mighty (and might I say snooty) Australians was only part of it. (Okay, a big part of it.) It was bittersweet to watch old favourite players play fiery final games before retirement (although Sourav Ganguly’s golden duck on his final test innings was too painful to watch, however Bradman-esque) and great to discover many cool and sexy new players (hellooooo Mahendra Singh Dhoni!) that I had seen in a lot of annoying TV ads, but never actually playing.
A third reason to celebrate is that the BPT is not only progressing very rapidly – it also looks like it will fit quite well! I have about 40-odd rows left to do on the body, and then the sleeves. I’m thinking of adding pockets in addition to the hood, depending on how much yarn I have left. The India-England one-day cricket series is beginning on Thursday. Here’s hoping that this encounter is as exciting, and at its end there’s a finished sweater to enjoy.
That’s what popped into my head the minute I saw this photo – a shapeless frog with bulbous eyes at the top, blue because of the cold or because he’s lonely, sidling up to a pretty, purply, plump princess who’s not sure she likes him. This is what October heat and the delirium of putting up two finished objects on the blog after eons will do to you. You anthropomorphize your knitted garments (the frog would become a prince sooner or later, yes?) and weave a fairy tale around them.
Truth be told, these are not mine. As in, I didn’t knit them – my mum did. I added the buttons, and pretty much did the maths on both of them. The Blue Frog is The Thrifty Knitter’s Nifty baby riff on the Cobblestone, but with redone numbers cast on onwards. It was an absolute breeze to knit, with hardly any shaping or finishing. The Purple Princess I sort of did from scratch, trying to feminize the frog and give it sleeves and some flare for a baby niece. The yarn was all leftovers that I brought over from the US for her to make baby things with. The biggest effort was writing down the instructions in Marathi for my mum so she can file the patterns. She is thrilled to bits with the end results – total garter and cotton love!
Instead of the buttons at the side, we put them at the back, and added a contrast border. So she began at the chest with a provisional cast on, knit in garter stitch up to the shoulders, and then picked up stitches at the chest to knit below in stockinette. One rapid increase on the first row gave the gentle frock-like flare. I think it was more effort than necessary – too many ends to weave in at the top, even though it looks okay. It might be easier to start at the neck in one piece with raglan sleeves and then increase at the chest. Hmmm. I might actually try it this way with another sample and write up the pattern in English and Marathi for a free download.
Blue Frog: 100% worsted cotton yarn hand dyed by Laura of Textiles a Mano; no idea how much got used, but it wasn’t much. Size 6 needle. Cast on 120 stitches.
Purply Princess: 1.5 hanks of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, plus some purple DK 100% cotton also from Laura. The gauges for both were different, so size 6 needle for the magenta and 5 for the purple. It worked out okay though. Also cast on 120 at the chest, and increased to 160 for the flare.
I know you’re squinting at those umbrella buttons, so here’s the obligatory macro shot:
While we’re on the fairy tale theme, it’s amazing how all it took was a blog post for my own knitting fortunes to turn around. Thanks for all the suggestions and encouragement – I first ripped out the Aran Cardigan and suddenly, out of nowhere, I remembered an old project that I had snatched the yarn from midway to make the Cobblestone. Simple cables and stockinette seemed too dull to knit then, but they practically sang to me now. So, since I last whined to you all, here’s what I knit:
Nice, eh? I can’t put it down, I even knit it in the bus the other day. Am already halfway down the undivided top, and it won’t be long before I divide for the body and sleeves. So I do get my stockinette hoodie after all, but with some needed twist! What’s more, I got the right gauge at 5 spi on size 6 needles, and it will (hopefully) be my desired finished size of 40 inches, without any maths or mods. I haven’t decided yet whether to add the hood, or make a different collar. And maybe add pockets. What’s not to love?
Tomorrow kicks off a series of trips here and there – maybe this will get done soon!
This cardigan pattern is great once you’ve begun, which is easier said that done. And then it’s so much fun.. okay, okay. no more poor rhyming attempts. Long day. Back to BPT (incidentally, this whole naming of patterns is weird enough, but does anyone know why BPT? Said very quickly it sounds like some rude stuff Calvin says to Susie Derkins with his tongue stuck out.).
As I said in the earlier comments to Quill, the pattern is very oddly written in the beginning. Here’s how it explains the first two rows:
Beginning with row 2 of the cable patterns, work Set Up Row [WS] as follows: Sl 1, p1, CB, p4[5,
7, 8], CF, place marker, p4[6, 6, 6], CB, place marker, p6[8, 9, 10], DC, p6[8, 9, 10], CF, place marker, p4[6, 6, 6], CB, place marker, p4[5, 7, 8], CF, p2. Inc row [RS]: Sl 1, *work in patt to 1 st before first marker, k1 into st below, k1, sl marker, work cable sts in patt, k1, k1 into st below, rep from * 3 times more. [inc 8 sts each round.] Basically you repeat these two rows until you divide for the body.
Since the cable stitches in the first (WS) row is only knit-purl with no twists, it’s a breeze. So are rows 2-4; the twist happens in row 5, which is the RS. And there comes the problem. I took the cable positions on the RS to be the mirror versions of how they were placed on the WS. In other words, if you knit the WS row as written above, doing CB, then CF, then DC, then on the RS you’d go DC, CF, CB, right?
As the pattern is pictured, even on the RS (row 5), you have to do the cables in the same order that they are written in the set-up row, i.e. CB, CF, CB, DC, CF, CB, CF. Only if you do this will you find that the cables slant the way the should, as they are pictured (which is actually very graceful!) I found this a little confusing, and only after several froggings of ugly cables that had lost their way did I figure it out. (Of all the people who’ve made this cardigan nobody has mentioned this save Quill, so maybe this is normal to most, but it certainly wasn’t to me.)
Anyway. Once the starter issues were resolved, however, it’s going splendidly. I am a teeny bit worried about puckering at the increases (am using the KRL/KLL (Knit Right Loop/Knit Left Loop) technique of increases which make it very even, but tend to the tighter side. Have to be careful to do them a little loosely, but then you have to worry about ugly gaps at the raglans.
Hey folks, am back in the US, after an exhausting, but fun-filled holiday. Time to start thinking about new syllabi, students, campus and deal with the million small problems that moving to a new place presents. So far, so good. I have only one major problem to deal with: an electric stove in my kitchen, which so far is resisting any and all attempts on my part to get to know it better, heating up sullenly and burning the bottoms of the pots I place on it. But I am determined to win it over.
Return also to knitting. I’m sick of socks and dpns and don’t want to see another sock for a while. I’m halfway through the second birchleaf sock, but it will keep. I wanted something more substantial than a size 0 to hold in my hands, so I started this:
It’s a swatch for the BPT cabled cardigan from Knitty. Am using the Lapaz yarn I bought from Laura’s in Colorado in June. I wanted to make another Rogue, because I’m really not happy with the one I made, but I think this yarn is too busy and variegated for those intricate Celtic cables. This pattern seems to have the right mix of cables and stockinette. Plus it’s top-down with no finishing, which is always nice!
Problem: gauge. I’m running at 5.5 stitches to the inch on size 4s, and any larger needle size is making the fabric too holey. Need to do some maths to figure out how to get it to fit.
I’m also toying with the idea of doing a button band instead of a zipper. I hate sewing in zippers. In the swatch above, to the left of the cable I tried doing a 5-stitch rib with the knit stitches twisted. Seems to give a firm and defined band that doesn’t pucker, and I’m planning to knit it as I make the cardigan body. Let’s see. I’m not that big a fan of rolled edges, but this one has an I-cord edging, which also promises to be interesting.
Hope everyone’s been having a good summer! I’m just beginning to catch up on my blog reading, and looks like most people have gone nuts with lace! If you haven’t seen it already, you must see Melissa’s Shetland Tea shawl. She has made so many of the Gathering of Lace shawls, all of them gorgeous, but this one is a total stunner.