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Tux Cardigan

January 03, 2006: It Begins (again)

I have cast on for Tux Cardigan V. 2.0, in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, main color: Fern. This time, I’m following the Stitch ‘N Bitch “Go Everywhere, Go-With-Everything Cardigan” pattern. Tux will be rendered in intarsia on the back. For measurements, I’m cribbing from my favorite hoodie.

Knitting this cardigan will require miles and miles of stockinette. The back is broken up by the thrill of intarsia, but I’m going to have to think of a little something to do on the sleeves and front panels, or I will surely go insane. I don’t know how Wendy does it, she’s knitting a Bohus sweater, mostly stockinette, in teeny tiny needles. (2mm!!!)

Mine won’t take quite as long as Wendy’s bohus sweater. Once I get going, I knit pretty loosely – I find it more pleasant when the stitches slide easily along the needle. I usually run somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stitches to the inch with Wool of the Andes on 6mm needles. (Knits up faster that way, too!)

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January 04, 2006: I love intarsia. (Not really.)

I’m racing to get through this part, because the intarsia color work on the Tux cardigan is a GIANT pain in the ass. At one point, I was rearranging eight bobbins as I worked. Eight! I’m not cut out for this kind of thing.

Doesn’t look too bad from the front, does it? Wait till you flip it over. Oy, what a mess.

The smartest thing I did was to mark the boundaries of the intarsia area with a red marker on one side, and a blue marker on the other. Then on the pattern sheet, I wrote “red” and “blue” on the appropriate sides. This means that I don’t have to figure out which direction I’m knitting the stitches in – which, believe it or not, I would probably screw up. All I have to do is look and see if I’m working from red to blue, or from blue to red, and consult the chart.

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January 06, 2006: Two more hours of work. (Yes, really.)

This is getting really disheartening. Part of the reason it’s taking so long is that this panel (the back of the sweater) is 31 inches wide. Still, though, I was really hoping to have finished Tux’s head by this point.

Would you think me mad if I admitted that I have been seriously considering working a yellow go-faster stripe up the sleeves in intarsia? You probably would, and rightfully so.

It would look very spiffy. However, I have not yet seen a sweater pattern with an intarsia stripe up the sleeve, and my experience with the ill-conceived all-in-ribbing back panel of the erstwhile binary sweater makes me hesitate. Maybe there is a reason why I haven’t seen a sweater pattern with intarsia stripes up the sleeves.

Then again, maybe the reason is “everyone hates working intarsia.” (Or that “intarsia sweaters are hiiiiiiiideous.” [But not mine. Mine is rad.])

Curious, I did a quick Google Images search for “intarsia sweater.” I found hair spray, argyle diamonds, a bichon frisee, a flaming pony, colorful blocks, a palm reader’s graph, and – now this one is actually super cool – TinTin and his dog Milou.

But no sweaters with lengthwise intarsia stripes. Perhaps I should back away from this idea slowly, and just stick with duplicate stitch.

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January 08, 2006: Tux, finished (yes, really)

Every week this time of year, for two days a week, there is a three-hour window between when I get up and when the sun goes down. Today I looked up, realized there was daylight coming through the window, and scurried off to take pictures of Tux in natural lighting. Then I remembered that I can’t actually turn off the flash on my digital camera, so the pictures are partially lit by flash. Oh well.

Here’s Tux from the front. I’m not 100% happy with the duplicate stitching for his eyes, I may rework them later. They look a bit too Little Orphan Annie for me. (The stockinette was curling so badly, I weighted it down for the picture with the nearest objects at hand – my DSL modem and faithful $30 router.)

And I know you all like teh knitting pr0n, so here he is from the back. It looks a lot nicer than I thought it would, back when I was juggling all those bobbins and swearing and giving myself back pain from hunching my shoulders in concentration.

Does this count as an FO? It certainly felt like it. When I finished sewing in the last yarn end, I allowed myself a brief MCS, then started fretting about the fact that I’m only like 1/5th finished. This is the back, so I still need to make the two front panels, the two sleeves, seam it all together, and then add some border action. SO MUCH WORK!

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January 13, 2006: Tux sweater – left front panel

Don’t you love stockinette? Don’t you love how much it curls?

It looks a bit more respectable after I tugged out the curl long enough to take a picture. (The bottom end is actually straight – it just curls upwards from the point where the mouse is pinning it down.)

Note cat butt in upper left of pictures. Note that cat butt does not move an inch from one picture to the next. He was supervising.

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January 19, 2006: Tux Cardigan update

I continue to plug away at the Tux Cardigan. I’m about halfway through – I’ve finished the back, right front, and half of the left front.

I decided to amend the pattern (and stabilize the stockinette) by knitting six garter stitches along the edge of the fronts. Did pretty well on the right front, but halfway through the left front I got distracted and forgot to knit the last six… twice. I looked at them. They’re at the bottom, so it’s not like they’ll be in my face all the time. If it was for someone else, I’d rip back (or try dropping the stitches) and fix it. But it’s for me. And I can always correct it later if it really bothers me, right? Right. I knit on.

Boring, so boring! I will never knit a plain stockinette sweater again. I knew that it would be like this, but I wanted to make just one sweater by following the pattern.

Tonight I decided to give myself a break, and do one of my favorite things: knitting up an experimental test swatch. I do this as much to play with the stitches as to practice them, or make pieces for the swatchghan. Tonight I started with “honeycomb stitch,” but after the second row of travelling the stitches, I was like, okay, forget it. I’m not enjoying this.

I picked up a printout of the instructions for My So-Called Scarf, and started noodling around. What happens if I just repeat row 1? What if I repeat row 2? What if I do the rows in order, but change row 2 so that it’s done more like row 1? After an hour I hit the end of the practice skein I was using, and called it a night.

It was fun. Give it a try some time!

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January 29, 2006: Confession time

I haven’t done any knitting all week.

Why?

Because I don’t want to start anything else before I finish my Tux Cardigan.

Why haven’t I been knitting the Tux Cardigan?

Because I have a sneaking suspicion that I didn’t increase the arms fast enough, and it may be too late to increase faster, and I might have to rip back.

So 1) the first thing I need to do is whip out the tape measure, and measure a bunch of stuff, and run a bunch of calculations to see if this is the case, and I don’t feel like doing this. Too brain-intensive, on a week that has already run me completely dry, brain-wise. 2) if the answer is “yes” – and I rather think it will be – I’m pretty sure I’ll pitch some kind of hissy fit. And you know, I’m just not really up for that right now.

I’m sure I’ll be back on track soon… I just need to get a good run at it, is all.

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January 27, 2006: Good news!

It’s not too late for the first arm. I have five more inches in which to increase 20 stitches. No problem.

I decided to illustrate this with a picture, so that you can see the sleeve only comes up to my elbow.

Have you ever tried to photograph your own arm? I mean the whole thing, all the way up to the shoulder.

It’s a little trickier than I thought it’d be.

Oops, is that a shot of my computer monitor caught in the act of bittorrenting this week’s episode of “The Office” from torrentspy.com?

I would never do that. Because file sharing is illegal and wrong.

Every time you share files over a p2p network, God kills a kitten.

Anyway, just trust me – I’ve only knit the sleeve up to the elbow, and taking pictures of your own arm is really really hard.

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February 03, 2006: Department of Finished Cardigans

It is finished! I am very pleased with the results. So pleased that I thought, this cardigan deserves to be photographed in natural light! I scampered up to our apartment building’s rooftop deck, dragged the cafe tables in under the eaves, and snapped away.

Then when I got back inside and started running the pictures through Adobe ImageReady, I discovered that these pictures were taken in possibly the worst natural lighting ever. It’s overcast and rainy (surprise), and looking at them, you’d almost think they were taken with flash photography. The light has that same sharp bluish cast to it. Ugh. I’m sure Natalie could have done some wonderful photography under those circumstances, but my pictures suck. Next time it’s sunny (ha!) I’ll do another photo shoot. Until then!

Tux’s head got a little distorted by a wrinkle in the fabric, which I didn’t realize until I uploaded the pictures to Flickr. Rest assured, his head is actually round as it should be.

Although the pattern called for single crochet around the edge, I did it in double crochet, because the stockinette needed as much stability as possible.

Checkit! The sleeves are almost exactly the same size! There’s a margin of error +/- one inch – I can totally live with that.

One thing I learned is that Knit Picks’ Wool of the Andes, when properly blocked (with soap and the whole nine yards), undergoes an amazing transformation. Before blocking, the cardigan was so stiff and rough that the back panel actually stuck out from my body at a 30 degree angle. I was starting to think that the whole project might be a loss.

After blocking, it relaxed into a very soft, pliant drape. It’s like a completely different garment. I had blocked swatches before, but it’s a little hard to see the difference in a wee little swatch. If you make a garment out of this yarn, rest assured that it will be a LOT nicer after you block it.

Details
Pattern: SNB’s “Go Everywhere, Go With Anything Cardigan”

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in fern, with trim in tan.

Amendments: Upsized pattern to women’s 2x (more or less). Double crochet around edge instead of single crochet. 6 stitches on each side of the front worked in garter stitch to prevent curling. Picked up and knit a 6-row band of 2×2 ribbing along the bottom edge, and at the edges of the cuffs, to prevent curling. Linux mascot knit in intarsia on the back.

Next time I would: shift Tux a little further down, so that he doesn’t get obscured by my hair. Figure out how to adjust the chart to set in a collar – the plain neckline is set far back, which causes the cardigan to slip forward, which is not very flattering and requires constant adjustment by wearer. Knit garter stitch along the neckline, too.