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Archive for February, 2011

So… that Christmas present I completely ripped out and restarted just a week and a half before Christmas? It’s now done. I’m writing this on Sunday, January 16, 2011 but it won’t be posted on the blog until after it arrives at my sister-in-law’s house.

Billy’s Tomten Jacket, Front

  • Pattern: Tomten Jacket, Child from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann
  • Size: Approx. 4T
  • Yarn: Marble Chunky, color #MC6 Log Cabin
  • Needles: U.S. 10 (6.0mm) Addi Turbo 40″ circular for body, hood, sleeves; U.S. 10.5 (6.5mm) Clover Takumi bamboo DPN for i-cord edging
  • Started 11/30/10; completely ripped out and restarted 12/14/10; completely finished 1/15/11
  • Link to my Ravelry project page (login required)

Billy’s Tomten Jacket, Inside

Since I made this with a chunkier yarn than the pattern calls for, I knew I would need to make some adjustments. As is usually the case with gauge swatches, it lied. I was getting 3.5 stitches per inch, so I adjusted my cast-on number of stitches and the related stitch/row counts proportionately. This resulted in a jacket that, prior to sleeves being knitted on, actually fit me (though it wasn’t big enough around to close, that was reassuring at least). I figured that was a clear sign it would be way too big for my three-year-old nephew. (Granted, the basic concept of the jacket is that a child can wear it for several years but, had I continued with the jacket at the size it was, Billy probably wouldn’t grow into it until he’s ten.) So, much to the horror of everyone at my knitting group, I ripped out a whole two weeks’ worth of knitting just a week and a half before Christmas and restarted it.

Fortunately, by the time I had ripped out and restarted, I bought some clothes for Billy that were the appropriate size, so I was able to compare the size of the reknit jacket to them. The reknitted jacket indeed does seem to be the appropriate size. The only thing I’m not sure about at this point is the armholes; they seemed plenty large enough as flat pieces of knitting laid atop a store-bought size 4T sweater, but now that the sleeves have been attached and seamed up, I’m not sure. I’ll just have to send it off and hope for the best. There are ways I could fix it if necessary without redoing the whole thing again.

Billy’s Tomten Jacket, Back

About halfway through the project (the second time), I decided I would finish off all the edges with a little single crochet. But when it came time to actually do the edging, I changed my mind back to my original choice of applied i-cord. That part went much more quickly than I expected it would, and I’m happy with the results. I’m also very happy with how well the zipper went in. I hand-sewed it; the fabric is a bit thick to run through a sewing machine, and hand-stitching allows more control over the thread tension. I would have preferred a zipper in a darker brown, but my color selection at the local Jo-Ann’s was a bit limited, considering I needed a sturdy, separating zipper at least 16″ long and didn’t want metal. (There are online sources with a wider selection, but I wanted something I could get immediately and finish up the project.) The zipper does hide pretty well when the jacket is zipped closed, though.

Even with the recalculating, ripping, and reknitting, this was a very simple, no-nonsense project. Billy will have a baby sister arriving in Spring (woohoo, I get to knit cute baby girl stuff for a new niece!) so I may make one for her that she can wear in the fall. And I’m seriously considering making an adult-sized one for myself.

Update, February 10th… the jacket has been delivered, and word is it fits. Woohoo!

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I suppose in the back of my mind, I knew it would happen someday. I just didn’t expect someday would be so soon, or that it would happen to my very favorite pair of handknit socks.

It’s a hole.


Yes, a hole. Right there at the back of the ankle, just south of where the heel flap meets the 3×3 ribbed leg. All along I thought the first hole in one of my handknit socks would surely appear right at the big toe. After all, that’s the only spot where I ever get holes in my store-bought socks. Obviously the hole’s location means that my shoes were being quite unkind to my most-loved socks. Perhaps my most-loved shoes were feeling a bit jealous of the attention the socks were getting from me. Really, the socks are utterly soft and squishy, keep my feet warm and toasty during the cold winter months, and bear that telltale fake-isle patterning that exactly matches the first sweater I made for my dear, sweet nephew a couple years ago. I made these socks in the summer of 2008, and they have been my absolute favorite pair of socks ever since. These socks are my mashed potatoes. (And I love me some mashed potatoes.) The shoes? Well, they’re always on the outside, the outside of the socks. They shield the socks from the elements. The shoes have the dirty job of treading across cruddy sidewalks (watch out for that dog poop…) and stomping through the sandy, slushy, snowy mess that is currently the parking lot at work. The socks have it way better. So I blame the shoe and its jealous heart.

And, apparently, both shoes were jealous. Upon inspection of the other sock, I discovered it was about to blow out in the same spot. Literally held together by a thread.

Now, there are two methods of darning that I know of. One, as described by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee in one of her books, goes something like, “Darn, darn, darn!” [Throws holey sock in trash.] After very briefly considering that option, my response was, “Oh God, no.” I chose option number two, which involves an actual darning needle and actual yarn. (And a darning egg, which in my case was a former racquetball ball of Craig’s which most recently had a second life as a cat toy, and now has moved onto a part-time night job as a darning egg.)

Darning is basically weaving. (Just go ahead and google “darning socks” and you’ll find a plethora of links to instructions and even youtube videos.) Now, with these socks being fake-isle and all, and with that lovely hole spanning two different color stripes, there was no way my darning was going to be well-hidden. As this was also my first time darning a pair of socks, I figured they’d come out looking like Frankenstein’s Monster having a bad day. And I was pretty much right. I didn’t at all try to match the color, since I didn’t even have yarn left over from these socks — all I had was a tiny bit left from nephew Billy’s sweater. So off I went — weaving that extra yarn right over the offending hole, throwing in some diagonally-woven strands in for a little extra reinforcement. Voila! Looks like hell, but it will do.

For the other sock that was literally hanging on by a thread, I was able to do something a little more aesthetically pleasing — duplicate stitch. Still, the color didn’t match. I’m just calling this one art and that’s that. It worked – it’s halted the progress of a blowout-in-the-making and at the same time made a decorative little blue rectangle on the back of the ankle. Woohoo.

So there you have it — my first brush with darning. And unfortunately there will probably be more of it in my future. And probably on these same socks. I wonder where the next hole will appear?

Darning on left; duplicate stitching on right. See, I told you the duplicate stitching looked better!

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