Friday, June 29, 2012

FO Friday: The Modified Beatnik

My level of excitement about this sweater is probably a little strange and slightly embarrassing, but after only completing my first sweater this past winter, I'm so happy my attempt at modification didn't end up a complete disaster. Instead, I see myself wearing this thing ALL the time this winter when it gets cold (and not a day like yesterday when it was 70-something degrees out - hence the shorts).

The first thing I want to say is how much I loved this pattern. It was incredibly easy to follow but the cables make it look complicated. It kept my attention the whole time and the fact that I was able to modify it successfully means to me that it is great for everyone of every size and every style. Of course, I could have just looked at the over 600 projects on ravelry to figure that out.

Pattern: Beatnik by Norah Gaughan
Project Page: The Modified Beatnik
Size knit: Small

Things I Would Have Done Differently:
1. Picked up the sleeves and knit them in the round. I'm not completely happy with my sleeve seams
2. Knit the sleeves using the size XS. I feel like it's a little too loose around my upper arms.

I took copious notes throughout the process of knitting this, especially as I think I would like to do this again with another pullover sweater pattern.

1. I knit the back exactly as written.

2. I lengthened the sleeves to make them full length. I knit them both at once on the same needles as I knew I would probably suffer from the 'second-sleeve syndrome.' (I've only heard this applied as the 'second-sock syndrome,' but I think it works just fine here as well). I also knit the sleeves after I knit the back and before I knit the front. I really hate knitting sleeves so I knew I better not save them for last.

3. Left front:
- Cast on 45 stitches
- Twisted 1x1 rib for 2.5 inches as in pattern
- P12, [m1p, p3] 10 times, P12 (55 stitches)
I used the horseshoe lace chart from the original pattern (25 stitches), then added a 4-stranded cable (18 stitches). The remaining 12 stitches were the moss stitch "buffer" (as I found myself calling it)
- Work 12 stitches in moss stitch, place marker. Work Row 1 of Chart A, Place marker. Work Row 1 of 4-strand cable.

4-Strand Cable Pattern:
Row 1: P1, K2, P4, K4, P4, K2, P1
Row 2: K1, P2, K4, P4, K4, P2, K1
Row 3: P1, C4FPK, C4B, C4F, C4BKP, P1
Row 4: K3, P12, K3
Row 5: P3, C4B, K4, C4F, P3
Row 6: K3, P12, K3
Row 7: P1, C4BKP, C4FPK, C4BKP, C4FPK, P1
Row 8: K1, P2, K4, P4, K4, P2, K1
Row 9: P1, K2, P4, C4F, P4, K2, P1

C4F: Slip two stitches onto cable needle and hold in front of work, knit two, knit two from cable needle.
C4B: Slip two stitches onto cable needle and hold in back of work, knit two, knit two from cable needle.
C4FPK: Slip two stitches onto cable needle and hold in front of work, purl 2, knit two from cable needle
C4BKP: Slip two stitches on cable needle and hold in back of work, knit 2, purl two from cable needle.

***SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE*** When working in pattern, ONLY repeat rows 2 - 9 of 4-strand pattern***SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE***

- Work in pattern for back until 15.5 inches from beginning (or however long your selected size says to knit until), only doing waist decreases and increases on the moss-stitch side of the work. DO NOT k2tog or make ANY stitches on the side that will be the center of the cardigan.

***Armhold shaping and vneck shaping are done at the same time***

- Follow pattern for armhold shaping.
- For neck shaping, follow pattern until last four stitches, k2tog, k2 on right side. On wrong side, P2, P2tog.
- Continue with neck decreases until there are 26 stitches left on the needle. From there, follow JUST the shoulder bind off direction from the pattern for the BACK. Don't go past where it says you have to break the yarn. That is the shaping for the original pullover neckline, which we are NOT doing.

***The original pattern for the FRONT is NOT used AT ALL in this modification***

4. Right Front
- The process is the same as for the left front, except the moss stitch will be done last in the set up row, instead of first.

5. I blocked this sweater quite aggressively, as it was made with an acrylic blend. I also wanted it to be a bit of a slouchy sweater rather than a form-fitting one, and blocked it to a little bit bigger measurements than the pattern gave.

- I did not write down what I did to continue the 4-strand pattern through the decreases. I just went with it and you'll notice each side is a little different. My advice is to keep doing as much of the pattern as possible as you start decreasing, and when you're using a cable needle, cross stitches before you bind them off.
- When sewing should seams, try to line up the cables so it seems like they continue down the back
- TAKE YOUR TIME WITH SEWING SEAMS. I'm someone who always get frustrated and just tries to fly through it and then messes up royally. (See: Basic Black Sweater post)

You can see my button band tutorial here.

And please, if you have any questions do not be afraid to ask. I hope some of you will try to modify this as well! My directions are for the small size but the moss stitch 'buffer' makes it really easy to add or decrease width.

I just wish it was sunny when I took these pictures... perhaps there will be a reshoot first sunny day :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The Beatnik Button Band Tutorial

Hey everyone! I've finished my Beatnik!!! I modified it into a cardigan and I am so, so pleased with how it turned out. You'll see the finished product Friday after I sew the buttons on, but for now I'd like to share with you an easy way to add a button band to your knitted cardigans.

*This to tutorial is for a picked-up button band, not one that is knit then sewn on*

1. Mark off every 1 or 2 inches on one half of the cardigan, ending midway around the back. I used paper clips that I bent open slightly, but I know there are plastic clips made especially for this.

2. Recheck your gauge. I was pretty much right on gauge for the Beatnik, and that meant about 5 stitches per inch. Using this number, I made sure I had five stitches picked up between each paper clip.

3. Remove the paper clips as you go.

4. Knit in rib or garter stitch for as wide as you want your button band to be.

5. To make button holes, bind of 2-4 stitches (depending on how big you want the buttons to be) for each button and continue in pattern.  YO that many stitches over each button hole on the way back.

Let me know if you have any questions, and I can't wait to show you the finished product. Until then: here's another preview:

Monday, June 25, 2012

Made It By Monday Summer Series: Button-Up Upcycle

With all the warm weather recently, I've definitely been looking for some sleeveless tops to wear. When I got home from school this year, I cleaned out my closet and put a bunch of clothes in bags for goodwill or the trash. This past week 90 degrees + weather had me thinking of ways to use some of my old clothes.

This button up was a hand-me-down from my older sister when I was in middle school, and it is now too tight to be comfortable, especially in the sleeves. I've been admiring people's sleeveless button ups and I thought this shirt would be perfect to make my own.

The sleeves were the tightest part on me, so I was glad to get rid of those!


-thrifted or old button up

-coordinating thread

-sewing machine or sewing needle



1. Cut off the sleeves. I left an inch or so from the seam, you can cut off the extra fabric later

2. Iron the the shirt, taking care to fold the cut sleeves back to the inside of the shirt along the sleeve seam. 

3. Use a sewing machine or hand sew edges of sleeves

4. Iron and cut off any extra fabric

5. Wear it! You're done!


- I usually wear mine unbuttoned because the shirt pulls a little on me, but if you have a well-fitting shirt this always looks cute buttoned with a pair of high-waisted shorts :)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The Beat Continues....

I'm still plugging away at the Beatnik. I have finished the back and the sleeves, and both are currently blocking in the living room on my yoga mat. Though there is acrylic in the yarn, I've had good luck so far blocking wool/acrylic blends my soaking them in cold water for 10 minutes completely submerged, rolling them up in a towel to get rid of any excess water, and then pinning them.

I still haven't gotten around to picking up actual blocking materials, and when I look at the prices of some I decide I'm not in any rush to. Yoga mats and sewing pins have worked just fine so far and I've no complaints.

I lengthened the sleeves to make them full length. I've also officially decided to turn this sweater into a cardigan, and I've finished the left front so far. I don't want to show you all a picture yet because I'm not entirely sure if I like the cable variation I used. We'll see how it turns out. I hope to be finished by next week.

How are your WIPs going?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Other Stash Clean-Up

Though I had no knitting mentors for most of my knitting years, my grandmothers and my grandmothers' friends, have helped me a bunch along the way. It was because of one grandmother I have knitting needles of almost every size (something that has been so, so handy) as well as various odds and ends that I have been able to use (including an old dress pin that works great as a stitch holder).

I have two stashes in my house, one is the basket of yarn I use often and have bought for special projects, or nicer yarns that have been gifted to me.

Over the past five years, after my grandmother's friend learned I like to knit, she has been so sweet in bringing over bags (literally full garbage bags) or yarn. This has become the "other" stash. The volume, quite frankly, has been so much I hadn't had the chance to completely organize it until this past week.

Well, the first thing I had to do was get rid of the knot...

The yarn in the bags is mostly acrylic (1980s versions of red hart and carron, plus a bicentennial red, white, and blue combo of yarn), and time has done it's damage to most of the skeins. Some of them have lost their (relative) softness, sheen, or ability to withstand more than a few rows of knitting without breaking. Those, unfortunately, I had to throw out.

Olefin is sort of like acrylic. It's also used to make rope and wallpaper and has become my least favorite type of yarn to work with EVER.[/caption]

What I had left was a huge pile of acrylic plus a few gems.

Some DK sock yarn and a tiny, tiny bit of mohair

There was also this bizarre skein with no label, mohair-like texture, but totally unlike anything I'd seen:

I had also been in the habit of putting leftover skeins from projects in the bags as well. I finally separated out my collection of scraps.

I'm not sure what plans are yet for all this acrylic and leftovers. Though I don't consider myself a yarn snob, I really don't like having anything that squeaks when I knit with it anywhere near my skin. Maybe a bag? A chair pad? Any ideas?

Finally, I found a bunch of un-dyed wool. Next time I'm in the grocery store I am going to pick up so Kool-Aid to hand dye these. I might try tea-dying too.

What are some of your favorite stash-buster projects?