Finished, finally

Posted by caroline in Ophelia on March 26th, 2009

ophb I was going to wait until this was properly blocked but as I’ve just been out walking the dog in it I thought that I’d better do show and tell now, before I end up with my dinner down the front of it. I had seen myself wearing this over a thin polo neck sweater but as I don’t have such a thing in my wardrobe you will have to imagine that. While you are imagining that you can also imagine that I’ve blocked this and that the hem lies properly.

oph1This is Ophelia by Lucy Neatby, knitted in no-name undyed sock yarn dyed by me. I had two full skeins of yarn left over and numerous part balls, I knew that I would use less than the pattern because I shortened this considerably from the original tunic length. I’m happy with the final product, I’ve ended up with it being a bit big in the body but the sleeves are spot on. The process left a lot to be desired, I ended up with a size smaller than the one that I was expecting and had to correct for that in the side gussets (I over corrected as it happens). It spent most of the ten months of its life stuffed in a bag under the stairs, I realised that there was a problem with it back in August and rather than deal with it then I put it away for another day.

ophaThe shape of the sleeves came as a bit of a surprise when I first looked at the pattern. The cover photo shows the model with her elbows tucked in to her body so it was a shock to find that the schematic looked rather more bat wing. As it happens they are not unreasonably wide, they fit into my coat sleeves and I’m happy with them. All in all I think this will be a much worn sweater, in the winter over a long sleeve thin polo neck and in the spring and autumn over a shirt.

For anyone wanting the full (long and drawn out) story, just click on the Ophelia category in the right hand side bar. Would I knit a sock yarn sweater on 3.25mm needles again? Yes, I would. It’s a lovely weight and it was worth the effort.

Work in progress

Posted by caroline in Ophelia on February 25th, 2009

It’s clear that although February isn’t over yet I have very little chance of meeting the knitting target that I set myself. I’d aimed to have one sleeve of Ophelia completed to the cuff and a side gusset made. With three days to go I’m still a good three inches shy of the cuff and the gusset is designed but not yet cast on. What I did manage to do was to take off the sleeve from the body, I need to add an inch at the body side before grafting the sleeve back on (needless to say, I haven’t done that either). I’ve been knitting this so long that I’ve lost the notes that I made on the adjustments I planned to make to the gusset. This wasn’t a great loss because my big measuring operation has shown me that I’ve ended up with a 38″ size even though I was aiming for the 44″ size. There is no mystery in this, my tension is off. I’ve blocked the body but I suspect that there has been some major relaxation over time. It’s not as catastrophic as it might seem, or at least I don’t think it is, it just means that I need that extra inch at the top of the sleeves (giving me 4″ extra around the bust) and a bit extra in the gusset. I’m confident that it will all be fine when it’s done. (If that isn’t a sentence that will come back and haunt me later then I don’t know what is)

lace topThis is my excuse for slacking on Ophelia and the reason why the gusset and remaining sleeve won’t be done this week. I have the last sleeve and the button bands to do but it’s obvious that this is where my knitting time has been spent this month. I don’t remember knitting that much of it, the back took no time at all and the fronts were just as quick. I don’t know whether it is because this was mostly tv knitting so I didn’t pay much attention to what I was doing but this does seem to have knitted itself.

I should have known

Posted by caroline in Ophelia on February 1st, 2009

Once upon a time, last August to be precise, I wrote:

“In the end I didn’t block the sleeves on Ophelia ……, I put the sweater on top of a cardigan that I like and patted it a bit. As I suspected, the sleeves were already at the width I wanted them so it will be straight knitting now to the cuff. The sleeves were slightly narrower than those on my blue cardigan but I can’t face ripping it back so it will just have to stay. I will no doubt regret this later but by then I’ll be better able to deal with it.”

There are no prizes for working out that “later” has become “now” and now I am regretting that I didn’t do what needed to be done back in August. I blocked the sleeve and basted the seam and it is indeed ever so slightly too narrow just above the elbow. It was fine at the marker, the last swooping decrease is not in the same place as my flesh and blood arm decreases. If I left it as it is then I’d never wear it so it does need to be fixed. The reason that it was so difficult to work out whether it was right or not was because I couldn’t see where the start of the sleeve really was, it starts out as being part of the fronts and backs so it isn’t a matter of measuring along the sleeve seam to compare it with a sleeve you already own and like. That’s an excuse of course, I knew really that it was wrong, that’s why it has sat in a bag for six months while I avoided dealing with it.

The sleeves are not all that’s wrong. I’ve tried it on and as well as poking at the sleeve I was also poking at the underarm.  If we’re not talking negative ease then we’re certainly in the realms of less ease than I like. It is supposed to be 44″ across at this point and it’s nowhere even close to that. Fortunately there is a relatively simple solution that will fix both the sleeve shaping and the lack of width at the same time. I need to add an inch right up there at the top of the sleeve, because this is constructed with side gussets that will add four inches to the chest measurement and at the same time move the shaping an inch down the arm, giving me a bit more room at the top. I have the choice of ripping back all that perfectly good sleeve or steeling myself and doing a cut and paste up there at the top. It’s a good job that I like grafting.

I set myself two targets for January, firstly to put all my projects on Ravely and then to assess whether the sweater sleeve was the right shape. As I expected,  coming clean with the number of things I had on the needles resulted in a number of them being ripped or finished so I’m happy that I’ve now got my startitis under control.  For February I’d like to get one sleeve of the sweater as far as the cuff and a side gusset made because I would like to get this finished now.

A bit on the side

Posted by caroline in Ophelia on August 8th, 2008

I looked at the photo of the sleeve in yesterday’s post and it gives no clue as to what the sleeves actually look like and why it is going to take an unreasonable time to knit them. You can look at the pattern photo and still not have any idea, the model has her elbows tucked in and is sideways on to the camera so you can’t see the sleeve shape at all. I feel I owe it to the internets to show the full picture as it were so here in all its gaping glory is the pre-sleeve sweater.

this space intentionall left blank for sleevesMy son advised me that I could leave it like this and wear it as an apron but that wasn’t the look I was after. You can see the gap in the hip area where the side gusset will go later (when I’ve worked out how big it needs to be) and you can hardly miss the vast acreage of white that is currently being filled with sleeve. The sleeve top is part of the front so as well as being really wide it’s also really long. I picked up 236 stitches which is 60 more than at the start of the front. I usually work both sleeves at once but this time I’ll pass. As well as taking an age to knit a row I’d also be juggling with six balls of yarn and it is just not worth the effort.

all is quietI did have a moment’s bliss yesterday afternoon, a cup of tea, some knitting and total silence. It was so good. No-one was wanting feeding or playing with and I could amuse myself quietly doing whatever I wanted. It didn’t last anywhere near long enough (although there were some words still left in the book). There may well be/have been total silence from the blog, the box that it lives in is feeling a bit unwell at the moment and it seems to be wanting a bit of a break. Did I mention that the boiler has stopped working too? Is all my household equipment going to want a week off in August?

Big fun Sunday

Posted by caroline in Ophelia on July 28th, 2008

start of shoulder gussetshoulder gussetIt was hot and sticky all day and probably not the best day for sitting under a heap of wool but the pup was asleep under the back of the settee and the boys had gone swimming so it was the ideal time for me to join the front of Ophelia to the back. When I first read the pattern this was the part that made me put it aside “for later”. The back stitches are left live as are those from the front but instead of a three needle bind off there’s a ten stitch gusset that joins the two. I couldn’t see what the pattern did, there was a lot of “SSS” and “switch” and “SSP” and every line looked to be different. In the end I cast on the ten stitches and did what I was told. It wasn’t hard, the lines are written out clearly enough and it took less time to knit it than I’d spent trying to work out what it did. The blue contrast rows at the top of the back and the front swooped in and out and everything did what it was supposed to do. The problem that I’d had with trying to visualise the pattern was that I thought the blue lines crossed and I couldn’t see how that was done. The reason that I couldn’t work out how it was done was because that isn’t what happens (assuming that I’ve done this right of course). I never did work out what diagram 3 was showing me or found anywhere that referred to it but the front is joined to the back, nothing was twisted except the stitches that were supposed to be and I then had something that was starting to look like a sweater.

shoulder gusset with neck To top it all, it was so hot that we really had to stay inside during the peak of the heat and so I managed to then pick up the stitches for the neck and knit the eight rows it needed to finish that. Yet again I’ve come close to achieving an effect so subtle that it wasn’t worth bothering with. My contrast is solid blue, it seemed at the time to be a good idea to use one of the colours in the body yarn as the contrast but of course it has a tendency to vanish. If I’d used a true contrast such as a grey then those rows would have really popped out. Am I bothered? Not really but it’s something worth remembering in future.

two shoulders, one neck The body is currently blocking, the next step is to pick up for the sleeve and that will be easier if the edge is not rolling. This is the also the time where I need to find out whether the fronts and back are 19″, 22″ or some other measurement. Of course I already know what they because I’ve measured the pile of wet wool but I’m not telling….

The swatch did not lie

Posted by caroline in Ophelia on July 23rd, 2008

“Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crisis” – Elizabeth Zimmermann

So it came to pass that to finish the back of the sweater I had to be certain what my row gauge was. The pattern would have had me knit for 126 rows rather than X” so it was a good idea to work out whether I was getting 8, 8.5 or 9 rows to the inch. Rather than continue to do the wiggle it and guess method I went to do it right, pinned the piece out until the stitch gauge was right and then measured the row gauge. What do you know, 9 rows per inch, right on target just the same as the stitch gauge. Smugness reigned, although not for long.

OpheliaWhen I got near the cast off for the armhole on the front I thought it was a good idea to check that the back was really long enough. If not then I was intending to make the front longer and then come back and add some length to the back to match which seemed a much better idea than making the front just as much too short as the back. To measure the length of the back I needed to first pin the piece out to the right width and that is where it all went pear shaped. According to the schematic the back should measure 22″ and mine is 20″. I have checked my stitch gauge more times than I want to think about with multiple tape measures and it is right, 3 repeats to 4.9″ (12.5cm). There are 12 repeats in the back so by my reckoning the back should be 19.6″ and not the 22″ in the diagram. I spent a lot of time yesterday circling around this trying to work out where I had gone astray. I’m making the right size, my tension is right (although I suspect it might be a little tight right at the moment), there are no edge stitches that I’ve missed off. I refuse to consider that it’s the pattern as I firmly believe that Lucy Neatby is totally infallible. My latest thought is that it’s the schematic that is slightly off (or possibly my reading of it) and that the measurement of 22″ includes the 9 stitches at the top of the side gusset. I think this is right because I’ve crunched the numbers on all three sizes and compared the hip and bust measurements. The finished size has to include the top of the gussets and so would be bigger than the total width of the front and back. If the back and front were 22″ then the finished size would be bigger than 44″ and as the finished size is 44″ then the back and front can’t be 22″. That seems watertight enough but I’m still not convinced.

I am eight rows off the start of the armhole on the front, the back is complete. To be honest it may well be complete and too short because once I realised I was missing 2″ in the other direction I forgot all about measuring the length. My options at the moment seem to be to wail and gnash my teeth, rip the whole lot and start over with the next size, rip the whole lot and reclaim the yarn for socks or to carry on and hope for the best. Now that I’ve had time to really think this through I’m nearly almost certain that there’s nothing wrong and I’m thinking of going with the last option. I was initially going to go for the first one as well but my temper has improved now that I’ve had longer to think about it. I am confident that Lucy Neatby knows what she’s doing and even if I’ve screwed this up in some way that I can’t figure out at the moment I can hopefully recover it with the gusset. The pattern details how to adjust the gusset for fit and what corresponding adjustments need to be made to the sleeves so its not as if I’m on my own.

Knit on, knit on.

Back to the front

Posted by caroline in Ophelia on July 20th, 2008

teacher gift and sweater (mine)It’s all very well sticking to a single project, I’m very pleased with me for not giving into the lure of other knitting and keeping going with the sweater but it doesn’t make for very interesting blog fodder. This is the front of Ophelia which looks exactly like the back and will continue to do so until 88 rows after the armhole decreases. After that there is some neckline action followed by the very exciting joining of the front and back with a saddle shoulder. Anyone who doesn’t think that is terribly exciting hasn’t been knitting the same two rows over and over for weeks. I’m still finding the colour changes entertaining, especially watching for the appearance of the very rare brown stretch which is only in one of the three balls I’m knitting with. (Note to self, when pouring spare dye over light patches in the skein, make sure that the dye you use is one of the ones you dyed the skein with) The armhole is still some way away, I knit a few rows each day but what has always been my prime time knitting time now coincides with the dog’s stupid period when he’s too tired to care what he does and I have him on a short lead to stop him getting into mischief. He’s cutting his front teeth and has periods of mad chewing activity, usually just before he falls asleep.

brown, green, mud and ochre

It would be nice to bring out a bit of newly spun yarn to break up the Ophelia monotony except that I had to put the spinning wheel away (it folds – who knew?) because of its attractiveness as a chew toy. This is particularly upsetting as I have some drop dead gorgeous bfl all ready to spin, I look at it longingly every time that I walk past it. I should put it away because it makes me realise how much I’m missing spinning but I like looking at the colours and imagining the finished yarn. I’m dithering between it being for socks or a hat and it would be sensible to have made my mind up before I sit down at the wheel. No doubt I will have plenty of time to make the decision because it seems that school breaks up on Wednesday. I have no idea how it has managed to be mid July already, there’s clearly been some sort of a mistake with a few months cut from the calendar this year.

Hat or socks? Hat or socks? (Repeat until decision reached)

It cannot be Tuesday

Posted by caroline in Knitting, Ophelia on July 15th, 2008

I’ve had a busy week and I was shocked when I managed yesterday to sit down for long enough to work out that it had only just started. It feels like Thursday at the very least. Monday was the killer. It was the day of the year three school trip, except that it was also the day of the music exam so Dan missed his trip out. As he has an understanding teacher we had an alternative educational visit to Weston Park Museum during the puppy’s morning nap time. His report says that we saw a dead polar bear stuck up on display, which is one way of putting it I suppose and that “mummy waffled on about sheep being important”. Well yes, if you were an anglo-saxon then sheep would have been important to you because you wouldn’t have been standing there in a cotton polo shirt and polyester trousers. The afternoon was taken up by the music exam, the exam itself is about fifteen minutes long but it took an hour to get home (multimap says 29 minutes which it might be at midnight)

the backI had hoped to have finished the back of Ophelia by now and although I’m not there yet at least the end is in sight. It needs to be 14.7″ after the cast off for the armholes which I find to be a strange measurement. The tension measurements are in odd decimal inches as well but I worked out that they were sensible metric measurements that had been converted to inches (why?). I was expecting 14.7″ to be a nice integer metric measurement but it isn’t. The measurement is important for me because although the pattern has you knit 126 rows my row gauge is slightly off. I’m not certain exactly how off because I get a different number each time I count it but I’m either getting 8 or 8.5 rows per inch when I should be getting 9.

Pebble is doing “hurry up” and “do it here” in the garden, which means that I’m out there a lot of the time too. Needless to say he doesn’t hurry up and do it but takes his time sniffing about to find the precise spot that needs his attention. Iris and Ophelia can’t really go out there (especially now he’s found that the paper sack that the sweater is living in makes a fantastic noise when you jump on it) and I still haven’t sat down to work out what I need to do to make the tsock fit. Larger needles are not the answer, I’m getting the 8 stitches per inch that the pattern calls for and I don’t really want to knit socks any looser than that. The solution has to be extra stitches but the questions that remain are how many and where. What my life is calling for is a small portable project but as I’m still not feeling the call to socks this might turn out to be a hat.

Or until desired length is reached

Posted by caroline in Ophelia on July 8th, 2008

OpheliaI have been in deep discussion with my inner knitter over whether I really am in the right place for the armhole cast off. I seem to have reached it very quickly and as a result there has been much measuring of sweaters and of me. I was planning on taking 4″ off the length, this is after all a tunic pattern and I wanted something more like a sweater. The length on the schematic is 28″ and I’ve measured where that would fall and that is indeed much longer than I want it. I’ve measured my blue cardigan and I am certain that I can lose 4″ from the length and it still be an inch longer than that one. I can do the maths as many times as I like but I can’t convince myself that it looks long enough at this point. I know why this is, it’s because the sleeves are of the dropped shoulder sort, with a huge armhole that starts around your waist. The schematic clearly shows that there is more sweater above the cast off than below it. Despite all the evidence I still can’t convince myself that I’m not making a huge mistake. I have reached an agreement with my inner knitter that if it turns out to be naval skimming then we’ll be ok to snip a thread, unpick the bottom off and add the missing length before grafting it back together. I was going to knit the back and fronts at the same time but now I’ll just knit the other piece to just before the cast off and then stop. I have nothing against grafting but I’d rather work on 171 stitches than 342.

I have cast off 52 stitches (hurray) but now I have to work straight for 126 rows before anything interesting happens. It’s a good job that I’m still entertained by watching the colours change. I like the one row stripes best, there are places where the same colour stacks up deeper than that but it’s not yet crossed the line into “blotchy”. I’m hoping that it won’t start doing something widely unappealing now it’s worked on fewer stitches. It will give me something to look out for while working my way through those 126 rows.


Posted by caroline in Ophelia on June 23rd, 2008

Iris and JonesI did say that I’d wait until Iris had the full four repeats before I dragged it out again but I must admit that I wasn’t expecting to get there quite so soon. Thanks to the chap on the left there I finished the last repeat on Sunday evening. Indie was battling against a tree cutter on the living room floor for several hours on Sunday, that’s after the four hours it took to construct the tree cutter on Saturday. My only involvement there was to find a few pieces of Lego and advise on the best way to assemble 86 small black piece of plastic into caterpillar tracks so it earned me some quality bead knitting time. Much as I’d have liked to show you the tree cutter it came off the worst in a pitched battle late on Sunday and has gone back into the box for major repairs. It looks like I’m stuck with using the 0.4mm hook with the barb that I can’t see because a 0.6mm crochet hook is too big to go through the beads. Just so you know – if you try to pull a stitch through a bead when the hook is pointing the wrong way it gives you an instant dropped stitch that runs back a row. It gives you a dropped bead too but quite frankly I’ve lost so many now that I’m reconciled to having to buy another bag.

scary fibre

The yarn is made from some of the oldest fibre in my stash. The reason that it has sat there for so long (Christmas 2006) was that I was wary of the colours. It seemed like a good idea when I bought it but afterward it seemed like not such a good purchase. The dark plum is lovely but I had my concerns about the extent to which the fuchsia would dominate the final yarn. The yarn is a two ply so there was hope of blending the colours together, a three ply would have been better but to get it fine enough to pass through the beads means that I’d still have been spinning it. I’m pleased with the way that it’s knitting up (so far at least).


Ophelia is also moving forwards, this is the front or perhaps the back. The pattern gives three options for the hem, the one on the pattern photo has three contrast stripes and I liked the look of that very much. It is one of the things that drew me to the pattern in the first place but I have to admit that an eye catching stripe around my widest point is not probably a good move for me. It was with some regret that I left the contrast rows off the hem but I will using it around the neck and cuffs because I’m all for leading the eye upwards. I’d love to link you to half a dozen finished garments but the pattern isn’t listed on Ravelry and I managed to find just one on a blog which seemed to die a few inches from the hem. I have to admit that when I bought the pattern I took one look at the directions for the shoulders and put the pattern away in a hurry but on the basis of the two Lucy Neatby patterns that I’ve knitted since I have complete faith in the designer’s communication skills. I have knitted saddle shoulders before and I’m certain that it will all come back to me when I get there.

goldfinchesTop marks here for use of accent colours – you wouldn’t notice if goldfinches had big hips because you’d be too busy looking at their heads. I had a pair start visiting the feeder and then they just stopped coming leaving the expensive thistle seed swinging in the wind. I found out why when I flushed a cat out of hiding every time I walked past it. I’ve moved the feeder to where there is less cover for the local cat population and now the birds have returned.