Kitty Treats

seafood for kitties 2016-04-19 15.51.27

That’s a bowl of diced shrimp and scallops, exclusively for the cats.  This is after a fair bit of it had been doled out, too.  Stop giving me that look.  It was all freezer burnt, okay?  We weren’t going to eat it anyway.  They don’t care about the freezer burn, and are utterly delighted.

And so there’s a picture of an actual kitty in this post, I give you Licoris peeking.

Licoris peeking 2016-04-15 19.40.35

She got some of the yummy seafood earlier this evening.  (We keep the bowl in the fridge and every now and again I grab a smallish handful for the cats.)  Made her very happy.  That bit of furniture has worked out very well for her — she gets to see us easily, gets lots of incidental cuddles as we go by, has a tower she can defend at need, and gets her snacks and initial meals there.  (I take the bowl out after she’s done eating so she has more space to lie down.)  It’s really been a treat for us to have our little tortie out where we can see her, since she spent most of the last two years in the guest room.


Cozy Sweater Cuffs

Generally I’ve been trying to keep my standards relaxed for this Learning Project.  In spite of that, or perhaps in reaction to that, the cuffs have been an excellent example of the blog subtitle.

The original pattern calls for the sleeves to be…. well, I’m not sure how long, actually, since I couldn’t quite make sense of the pattern’s sizing in that regard.  But I think probably a bit below the elbow before the cuff.  Then it directs that (after all the sewing-up) stitches be picked up around the sleeve and four inches of garter be knitted flat and then seamed.

There are many things to change here.  First, I had cast on extra stitches to lengthen the sleeves, so they were about 3/4 length after sewing up (and I wanted them longer).  Second, four inches of garter would be over twice as wide as the other edges and I thought it’d look weird, though maybe not so much with the shawl collar.  Third, the projects by other people that I saw tended to have the cuffs actually wider than the sleeves, suggesting that too many stitches were picked up (and the pattern specified the numbers to pick up, I think).  Fourth, I am even less interested in doing another garter seam than I am in knitting garter in the round.

So I decided to add a few inches to the sleeve by knitting a piece in the same direction as the sleeve (that is, lengthwise) and including a garter border like that on the fronts, then mattress-stitching the whole thing to the sleeve.  The garter border would pull in a bit because of the shorter row gauge (and, unlike the fronts, wouldn’t have the weight to pull it into the same row gauge as the stockinette) and I could knit most of it before sewing it on (using the tail unpicked from the cast-on) and then see exactly how much more to knit.  Then I’d graft beginning and end together.

I cast on 16 stitches (6 for border, 10 for sleeve extension) and did exactly that — up to the point where I realized I had knitted it in the wrong direction (with the garter edging on the right side) for minimal seam bulk.  Specifically, I had intended to seam it half a stitch in on the new piece and either half a stitch or a full stitch on the sleeve (because half of it is off by half a stitch due to the two halves having been knit in the same direction).  But when I seamed half a stitch in I ended up with an extra half-stitch in the middle of the knitting, as the picture in the Doing It Wrong post illustrated.  I could fix this by seaming a full stitch in but then the seam was much bulkier than I wanted.  I did give it a try for a bit, but ultimately took it back out and ripped the whole thing.  So that was cuff #1, frogged.

For the next attempt, I cast on the same number of stitches but put the garter border on the left side of the work.  This one did work as planned, except that I found that the non-garter part was a little puffier than I wanted, so I ripped back a couple rows and then unpicked the seam a bit further back and re-sewed it with a couple of the mattress stitches only grabbing one bar from the new piece instead of two.  This, cuff #2, came out OK.  But I felt that maybe it was a little long and I might’ve wanted to just  cast on 15 sts instead of 16.  More importantly, the garter stitch, while slightly pulled in, was still looser around my wrist than I wanted.  I realized I wanted it fairly snug against my wrist.  By pinching the cuff I determined that I wanted about 25% fewer garter ridges.

So for cuff #3, I cast on 15 sts, and worked a short row every 7th/8th row — which is to say, I omitted every fourth garter ridge.  I did the first short row after the first full row, so the graft at the end would land between short rows and not involve them, and knit a total of 63 rows with the 64th row (and 24th ridge) being formed by the graft.  I also figured that since I knew that was approximately the right number of rows (uncharacteristically, I had not calculated this in advance, even though I could just count rows on the sleeves), I could knit it and graft it first, then sew it on.  And I did.

As it happened, this was the right cuff, the left one having been the one that was already sewn on.  And I much preferred it.  I still felt that the cuff could use maybe one fewer ridge (and I think the sleeve itself also ended up about 62 rows rather than 64), though.  Also, it seemed too short — because my right sleeve ends up hiked up a bit when I’m carrying a shoulder bag, especially with this kimono-style sleeve.  So using the stitch count I started with seemed like a good idea.  However, this length seemed like it’d work for the left sleeve.  I could just unpick the seam, unpick the graft, remove two rows, redo the graft, and sew it to the other sleeve.

Yes, I really did this.

Of course, first I had to remove cuff #2 from the left sleeve.  I frogged it (pausing to re-sew it incorrectly for the “wrong” seam pics, twice because the first one was even more off) and then had a ball of yarn that was slightly fuzzy from having been knit and raveled twice, but still the right length (or just a bit longer) to become the fourth and presumably final cuff.  I did get rid of the first yard or so that had been several seams by then.

Cuff #4a.  I cast on 15 stitches, worked about three inches, then realized I was using US 10.5 (6.5mm) needles instead of US 11 (8mm) needles.  Frogged.

Cuff #4b. I cast on 15 stitches, worked about two inches, then realized I’d forgotten the first short row turning.  Frogged.

Cuff #4c. I cast on 15 stitches, worked about 4 inches, then remembered that I’d intended this cuff to be 16 stitches.  Frogged.

Cuff #4d is now waiting for me to graft it together and sew on to the right sleeve.  Have I mentioned that grafting garter selvages is a pain?  Not the garter itself, which I could Kitchener in my sleep, but the selvage edge.  I might not care quite so much about it except that it’ll be something I’ll see rather often, being at my right wrist, and it’ll bug me if I can visually pick out every time where it is.

Okay, the graft is done and I should post this rather than waiting until I get the thing sewn on to the sleeve, since it might be a few hours.

Doing It Wrong

More things I have learned from the Giant Cozy Sweater knitting:

1. This is not what needle felting is supposed to be.

felted needle 2 2016-04-05 16.48.47

2.  It is always a good idea to check that the decreases you’re using on the third piece match the decreases on the first two pieces.  Preferably before you’re seaming them together.

sweater seam 2016-04-06 23.16.47

3. Use a yarn (sewing-up) needle of a size appropriate to your work from the outset rather than two long finger-tingling seams later.

yarn needles in lanaloft sweater 2016-04-09 16.07.30

4. When knitting a piece to be sewn along the selvages to lengthen sideways-knit sleeves, consider how the direction of the knitting will interact with the seam allowance.

mismatched seam better 2016-04-15 14.17.48

5. Avoid vertical garter seams whenever possible, especially with multicolor yarns.

garter seam 2016-04-15 15.00.17

I know people say it’s easy and neat, but it isn’t if you care at all about, oh, keeping the garter ridges straight.  The neatest garter seam I ever managed was when I accidentally turned the back of a slipper into a Mobius loop, which pretty much says it all right there.



How I (Try To) Fall Asleep

Sleep does not come easily to me, at least when I’m supposed to be sleeping.  (Afternoon naps are much easier.)  Here are some mental things I do in place of counting sheep.

  1. Count primes.  Eventually the math of figuring out whether a number is prime puts me to sleep.  Or I’ll do something else arithmetic, like a 47 times table.
  2. Word stuff, e.g., change WOLF to FLOW, or see how many words I can think of that end in -urry.  (Slurry, blurry, flurry, curry, hurry, furry, purry…)
  3. Linguistics puzzles, like phonetic rules for allomorphs of number-related words in Japanese.  Not that I have much of a vocabulary to work from, after three months of class.
  4. Japanese vocabulary review.
  5. Think about Lunar-related things, like what aspects of the four distinct versions of Lunar 1 would I combine into an ideal game, or how could Genesis/Dragon Song be turned into a game worth playing.
  6. Knitting (or crochet) planning, either for a possible upcoming project or an existing one such as putting pockets on the giant cozy sweater.
  7. Math related to knitting.  Recently it was figuring out integer values for sides closely approximating a 30-60-90 right triangle.   This one actually backfired on me because after doing all these calculations in my head and coming up with a couple of acceptable solutions I had to turn on my phone and find out which was closer.
  8. Listening to music inside my head.  Sometimes I notice things I hadn’t noticed before, which is kind of bizarre.
  9. Analyzing chord progressions of music I know well.  I’m a bit rusty on this though.
  10. Making up song lyrics about my cats.

Cozy Sweater Knitting, Part 2 (With Cats)

Followup to cozy sweater knitting.

I decided to put in horizontal darts but not vertical darts, on the reasoning that unevenness of the bottom hem would be visible but an oversized tapered v-neck shawl-collar cardigan originally designed to have buttons well below the bustline didn’t really need more fabric in front than was already there.  We’ll see how that works out when it’s assembled.  I’ve also decided to seam the sleeves by unpicking one cast-on for each sleeve at the underarm and using that to seam those pieces together.  Jury is still out as to whether I’ll seam the two bound-off edges at the top to each other or unpick one and graft live stitches to bound-off stitches.  The latter would require actually cutting into one BO edge, though.  I’ll probably try to seam it still bound with a scrap of yarn first and see how I like the looks of it.

I’ve now done nearly all of the knitting on this giant multi-pastel sweater.  (I have half a collar, cuffs, and potentially patch pockets to go, but want to sew it together first.)  Actually, I finished the main knitting weeks ago and tried to justify sewing it together without blocking it but just about all of the seaming is stockinette, which curls like mad.  More importantly, though, this project is largely a learning project for knitting in separate pieces and seaming them, and so I really should follow the standard advice and block the pieces first for uniformity.  So I soaked the back and laid it out to dry.

sweater blocking with Licoris 2016-03-23 01.37.34 (2)

I am at a loss as to why a cat would want to lie on wet wool, but maybe the scent was extra comforting.  And it was wet; even after squeezing as much water out as I could, several times, it was quite palpably damp.  (I don’t think I rolled it in a towel and stood on it, but I probably should have.)  It took several days to dry.  Near the end I got impatient and peeled it up and let it drape over chairs and stuff so the wrong side could get some air.

(I have to say that it kind of looks like someone tried to use CMY inks to print a photo of TV static but the colors were all out of registration.  Oh well.)

I still cheated on the blocking by not measuring and pinning.  But I wasn’t after doing much in the way of reshaping; I just wanted the edges to not curl so much.  Nevertheless, this was enough of a pain that I let a couple of weeks elapse before attempting the fronts.  In the meantime, I had restored the futon in the above pic to couch form, but I could just barely squeeze half the blocking tiles onto the table in the room, enough to do one front at a time.  This time I used a spray bottle to thoroughly dampen the edges and somewhat less thoroughly the middle.  Still didn’t bother with measuring and pinning, though I did hold the now-dry back against the fronts to get a rough idea.  The size hadn’t appeared to change before, so I’m trusting it won’t with these.  The first front definitely dried faster than the back did, unsurprisingly.

sweater 2nd front blocking 2016-04-04 18.54.49

Right now the second front is drying.  I’ll probably try seaming the first front to the back before the second front finishes drying.  But first I need to do something about the rather large mass of loose yarn attached to the first front, which is the other reason I didn’t wet-block that one.  I hate cutting yarn before I have to, and I haven’t quite decided yet whether to do the entire collar from that side and graft in front or to start the other side’s collar per instructions and graft them in the middle of the back neck.  There are reasons to do each:

  • Working the collar all the way around from one side would make for consistent selvages and inconspicuous short-row wraps.  If I work the second half from the other front (with knit garter stitch), the other side will be the one that’s out, and the selvage looks a little different on that side (because this is multicolor), plus the wraps are more visible from that side.
  • Working the collar in one piece means probably no extra cutting of yarn, because there’s enough left on the half-a-collar already knit to work the other half.  I was able to knit only a row or two of collar after binding off the other front, but that yarn would probably be enough to sew the completed collar to the back neck.
  • However, I would then have to graft the completed collar to the other front, and the inevitable slight jog from grafting opposing-direction work would be on the front and therefore visible, if relatively inconspicuous.  Doing it in two halves would put the jog in back where it will be less conspicuous.  (Probably.  I always think seam lines on back neck collars look awful, but that’s why I’d graft rather than seam or 3-needle bind-off. I don’t know what people are thinking with that.)
  • Working it in two halves might make for easier management of the collar sewing, since after the center-back graft, if I did it right, there’d be two tails available to sew it down to the back neck, working back to the fronts.  That would likely have less complicated results than seaming it in one go from one front to the other, since I’ll be seaming a vertical garter selvage to a horizontal stockinette bindoff, and if I mess up the spacing I’ll get to the end and have too much of one of these left and have to unpick everything.
  • I could probably get around the mismatch selvage and wrapping by doing the second half of the collar in purl garter instead of knit garter.  It’d be a pain, but it’s not very big, and I could drop down a needle size or two to compensate for my purls being larger than my knits.  I’m knitting on US 11s, and I have not only 10 1/2s but 10 3/4s and even 10 7/8ths somewhere. (All this is reminding me that I really need to get into the metric habit, because US needle sizes are insane, especially between sizes 10 and 13.)
  • However, if I do that (purl garter) I will inevitably end up having to conceal a yarn end at a garter selvage that will likely be visible from both sides at some point.  That might well be more visible than the half-stitch jog from seaming.

Hmm.  I think this will take inspection of the other front, currently drying, to decide.  Well, I have plenty of seaming to do before then.

Walnut with sweater piece 2 2016-04-04 18.39.00.jpg

As I was starting this entry, Walnut came up and perched on the arm of the couch, sniffing briefly at the piece near her.  I put my hand on it and she licked my fingers a little.  I was so touched I teared up, even though she licks my fingers when I give her something tasty to eat.  (Which is probably what initially attracted her; I had a bowl of yogurt on the other side of me.  Still, she hadn’t made a move toward it and didn’t for at least two more minutes.)