Like how to convince my two-year-old that it would be perfectly reasonable for her to go to bed around 8:00 at night, and wake up around 8:00 in the morning. She seems to think it’s much better to stay up as late as possible (sometimes the sky is starting to get light already when she finally conks out), and then probably wake up in the middle of the night and refuse to go back to sleep unless Mommy holds her (which means I get to sleep sitting up), and then sleep until 10:30 or 11:00. I’ll admit, she did fall asleep around 6:30 tonight, but then she only slept until about midnight. Now it’s anyone’s guess just how late she’ll stay up. And I can’t just pop her in the playpen or crib and let her stay up while I sleep. She’s a climber. In fact, we call her our little jewel thief, because she’s frighteningly good at it, and quiet to boot.
I decided it would be a good idea, from a design standpoint, to do some test knitting. I’d already joined the Ravelry group, Free Pattern Testers, so it was just a matter of finding the right pattern to try. I was looking for something small and fairly simple, so it wouldn’t take a lot of time away from my already burgeoning to-do list. It wasn’t too long before I spotted the Quadrille Knitted Lace Doily by Tiny Knit.
From the pattern description: “Quadrille is a lace doily for experienced beginner to intermediate knitters, using basic stitches in a repetitive pattern.” The pattern is knit in the round and comes with both written and charted instructions. I tested the written instructions.
I’m far from a beginner, or even intermediate knitter, but I found this to be extremely simple. I think it would be a good first lace project. It was a nice, quick knit (if the knitting took five hours, I’d be surprised) that was easy to pick up and set down — I didn’t have to look back at the instructions every other stitch to figure out what to do, or spend five minutes figuring out where I left off. I did most of my knitting on it while sitting at long stop lights and walking up and down the stairs at work. It is (if I remember Barbara Walker‘s definitions correctly) knitted lace, where every other row is simply knit. (As opposed to lace knitting, which has yarn-overs on every row, or do I have those backwards? Or am I wrong, and it wasn’t Barbara Walker? I never should have given my mom back the extra copy of the First Treasury.)
There are helpful links for a couple of recommended techniques (Emily Ocker’s crochet cast-on, and a crocheted bind-off), and also pictures in the pattern to help with the bind-off.
As well as being a fun, easy knit, it was a good learning experience. I did find one error in the original pattern (fixed), and it was the sort of thing that is easily overlooked. I almost didn’t catch it myself! It gave me new appreciation for the worth of test knitters, and the difficulties they can face. You can’t just read and knit the pattern as you normally would, filling in missing bits and correcting minor errors without really noticing them. Noticing them is what you’re supposed to do!
Except that I’m not, really. I’m making Grace a pair of Clandestine socks, and I haven’t told her I’m doing it, but since I’ve worked on them in front of her, and recently asked her to measure her foot, I don’t see how she can not know they’re for her.
I’m almost done with the first one. I have very little left of the first skein of KnitPicks Stroll that I’m using. I’m pretty sure there’s more than enough to finish the sock. (If there isn’t, I’m going to be really annoyed if I have to add on a new skein at the tip of the toe!) This means I should have two skeins leftover. I think Gracie will be getting a second pair of socks at some point (quite possibly Twisted). Good thing she likes this color!
I really like this pattern. (I have said all of this before, but I repeat myself sometimes. It’s
a character flaw an amusing character trait of mine.) It’s not my style to wear, but I’ve really enjoyed knitting it. It’s quirky and different, and pretty fun. I think the instructions are easy to follow, although I really don’t think you need to put in the stitch markers (as mentioned in the post linked above). It may look a little intimidating, but I don’t think it really is.
Another note worth making (besides the stuff about the stitch markers) is that this is definitely better suited to using 4 dpns than circulars, at least in the leg. You repeat the pattern three times around the leg, and because of the nature of it, it’s really just best to have all the stitches for each repeat on the same needle.
I did misread the instructions for the toe, but I don’t think it’s going to be an issue (and it was my fault for misreading, not a problem with the instructions). After you move stitches a little to change the beginning of the round, you’re supposed to just knit a row, then do a row with the decreases. I missed the part about knitting one row plain. Instead, I knit the second row plain, then continued by following the directions (knitting the odd rows plain and doing decreases on the even rows). I’m sure Grace will never notice, even if I forget and do the second sock the way it’s supposed to be done.
I’m knitting The Hoover Blanket from the Fall ’03 Knitty for the Sea Monkey (I’m pregnant, have I mentioned this little detail?). It is my first foray into the world of doubleknitting.
As such, it’s pretty simple. The garter stitch border is . . . about as simple as you can get. It’s garter stitch, after all. Then you get to the center part, where the actual doubleknitting is done, and, really, it doesn’t get any more difficult, to me. I’m doing variation two, with stripes, and I’m doing what is called in the instructions “a more elegant way” to acheive the stripes, knitting the main color stitches and purling the contrast color stitches on every row. I don’t know how much more elegant it is, but it seemed like it might be faster, and make things a little more interesting than just knitting every stitch on every row. My boredom quotient can be pretty low. I keep both yarns over my finger for tension, and just make sure to pick the right one for each stitch. The worst of it is every once in a while I have to drop the yarn so that I can get it to stop twisting together. Well, no, the worst was when I apparently knit a knit and purl stitch together, and didn’t figure it out until the next row, when I freaked for a few seconds, thinking I’d dropped a stitch and couldn’t find it. Once I figured out what happened, though, it was simple enough to fix.
I’m only about a third of the way done with it (it measures about 27″ x 9.5″ right now), but considering that I’ve mastered the “difficult” part, I don’t feel like I need to finish it to really call this a review. It’s a nice, fairly mindless (but not completely!) pattern. It’s knitting up quickly (would be faster if I didn’t take breaks to work on more complicated things), and I’m pretty sure I’ll be well pleased with the finished project. It’s also making me more interested in more complicated doubleknitting, like Triskellian’s lovely doubleknit take on the Selbu Modern beret. (I hope she posts more about it, because it’s really gorgeous and inspiring. Hint, hint.) I also really like the historical attachment to the Hoover blanket. How cool is it that my baby’s blanket was designed by a First Lady?
ETA: I’m not entirely thrilled with the edge between the border and body of the blanket, but I think that’s a case of me not keeping the yarn tight enough. I’m twisting the yarn, like I would if I were doing single knitting and changing colors, and on one edge of each side (opposite edges), it’s a little more obvious than I’d like, but I do think that’s me, and not the pattern. Also, I’m not keeping really close track of how many rows I’ve done between the extra border rows (the garter stitch border and stockinette stitch body have different row gauges, so you turn back and do extra border rows on both ends every 6 or 8 rows), but I think it’s coming out okay.
I can’t decide which is better: keeping detailed project notes in Ravelry, or putting them here. I keep going back and forth.
Anyway, I got through the ten rows of ribbing on the Hallowig, and started the setup for decreasing. I think the pattern is a little unclear on a couple things. Are you supposed to do the first decrease before the second marker on the bangs side? I’m pretty sure that’s what it says to do, and it pretty much makes sense, since the second marker on the bangs side is actually right at the beginning of the round, but the way it’s worded makes it sound like the round should be starting in the middle of the bangs . . . I had to read it several times to make sense of it. Maybe it’s just me, though, since no one on Ravelry seemed to have that problem.
Then, reading ahead in the instructions, trying to figure out if I was right or not, I saw the line, “Work this round every round until 6 sts rem between markers.” This, to me, sounds like there should be twenty-four stitches on the needles at that point (there are four markers). Except, you only decrease between markers one and two, not between two and one (really, it makes sense, go look at the diagram). When I copied the pattern to print it out, I didn’t include the actual photos, just the text and diagrams, so I had to wait until our computer was not being used to check, and yes, you only decrease between one and two. It’s very obvious when you look at the aerial-view picture of the actual wig. So, just a little thing I would have worded differently. Or maybe I shouldn’t have read ahead (isn’t that what they tell you in school?) and then when I actually got to that point, I would have known what was meant. Or maybe this should be a signal to me to stop being so cheap about my printer ink and copy the photos, too.
I have now made two Summerlin dresses, and two Two Summer Sundresses (pattern available on Ravelry). Both patterns are free, and are very similar: a simple knitted bodice and a gathered woven fabric skirt. There are definitely differences, though.
First off, Summerlin is much better written. The two sisters who make up Kathryn Ivy have been knitting for a while, and that shows in the pattern instructions. Natalie Larson, the designer for Two Summer Sundress, had only been knitting for a year when she wrote hers. Two Summer isn’t hard to follow, it’s just not as polished, and the sewing instructions are seriously lacking. I do a lot of sewing, so I didn’t need them (and if I did, I could have just substituted the instructions from Summerlin), but for someone who isn’t a seamstress, they might be confusing.
Summerlin is knit from the mostly-garter-stitch straps down to a v-neck bodice (knit mostly in stockinette), then you use the backwards-loop method to cast on extra stitches for the garter stitch empire-waistband. The straps are sewn down to the back of the bodice, a button is added to the end of the waistband, and you make a buttonloop for it. The instructions are written with definite stitch counts for each size [“Repeat last two rows until you have 15 (17, 19, 21, 23) sts.”].
I don’t think backwards-loop looks as bad as some people do, but I do think it’s unwieldy for such a large number of stitches. Other than that, the waistband is stable. It lies flat, and provides a good strong place for attaching the skirt.
The straps, however, stretch. Badly. I need to take pictures of the first dress I did (which was, admittedly, in a bad yarn for this project). It’s cotton, and garter stitch. They’re going to stretch. I hoped they wouldn’t stretch quite so much as they did (even in the better yarn for this project). Combined with the v-neck, the dress was more revealing than I would care to wear, as an adult, and was far too mature for the little girls (ages 1 — 5) intended to wear it. I tied a ribbon around the straps in the back to keep it from falling down so much in the front. Another problem with the straps is that, while they don’t curl at the edges, they do fold in half lengthwise (row 1, k; row 2, k2, p1, k2). That line of knit stitches down the center kills them. Sewing grosgrain ribbon to the back of the straps stops both the stretching, and the folding, but is not part of the original pattern.
The instructions for sewing the skirt are really good. One thing I recommend (and this goes for Two Summer, also), is to sew the basting (long) stitches that you use for gathering in two segments, each covering half of the upper edge of the skirt. Then, divide the skirt and bodice into four even sections, and gather the fabric one section at a time and match it to the bodice. That way you know you have it divided evenly, and you aren’t trying to pull the thread through the entire upper edge of the skirt.
The Two Summer Sundress is knit from the empire-waistband (with a yarn-over buttonhole) up, with a square neckline and garter stitch straps with two yarn-over buttonholes each. You sew a button to the end of the waistband, and one each at points about midway between the center back and the side. The straps are adjustable so it can be worn longer (hence the name) — with the straps criss-crossed for the first year, and straight the second. The instructions give a total number of stitches to be cast on for each size, and a length for the straps, but after that, you have to do a little math (“Bind off 25% of your total stitches.”). It’s never more than figuring out 25% or 50%, so it isn’t difficult, and this also makes it easier to substitute different yarns, or to make the bodice at a different gauge. Another thing with Two Summer is that after you’ve knit it, you sew ribbon (I recommend grosgrain) to the straps and the waistband, which keeps the straps from stretching, and adds stability to the waistband for the buttons. It also allows you to cover the edge of the gathered fabric (which looks neat, and keeps the fabric from unraveling), and any yarn ends that you didn’t feel like weaving in anymore (you *do* still need to weave them in a little, though).
I hate yarnover buttonholes. They are just too stretchy and not neat-looking enough for me. I’m not real crazy about doing loops for buttons, either, so I don’t know which I really prefer. With the Two Summers I’ve made, I stopped the ribbon backing before the buttonholes (on both the straps and the waistband), because I thought it would be a pain to try to line up buttonholes sewn into the ribbon with the yarnovers. If I make another, I’m going to try doing just that, and probably at least tack them together. It will look better (to me, at least), and the ribbon won’t stretch the way the yarnover will, so the buttons should stay buttoned better. I think shank buttons are better (for either dress, really) than sew-through buttons. On Two Summer, the buttonholes are really too thick for a 1/2″ sew-through button.
I think the waistband would be better in garter stitch, instead of mostly stockinette, or at the very least, do four rows of garter stitch, two rows of stockinette, then another four rows of garter. As it is (three rows of garter, five of stockinette, and three of garter, I think), it rolls. The ribbon backing stops it from doing that, but sewing it on is a bit of a pain because, well, it rolls. I also think it makes more sense when you cast off for the ends of the waistband to cast off 25% of the stitches, then knit to the end. On the next row, cast off 25% of the stitches purlwise, then continue with the bodice stitches. That way you don’t have to break yarn and reattach.
Another thing I did with the waistband was I cast on four extra stitches, so the buttonhole could overlap the button without the fabric of the skirt having to overlap. [So when I cast off the waistband stitches, I actually cast off (# of stitches cast on – 4) x 25%, k to end, next row cast off (# of stitches cast on – 4) x 25% + 4.]
The instructions for the decreases on the bodice say to do your ssk or k2tog right at the edges, and I prefer the way it looks doing k2, ssk, k to last four stitches, k2tog, k2. I think the edge is cleaner that way.
Then there’s the straps. According to the instructions, the straps are four sts wide. I think five would be better. There’s less chance of the ribbon showing along the edges that way. I have not successfully sewn the ribbon to the straps without the straps getting skewed. It happens a little on the waistband, too, but it’s not nearly as bad. I strongly recommend taking the sewing slow and having both sides of the strap pinned to the ribbon, although this can be a pain if the pins are long (the pins along the side you sew second might get in the way of sewing the first side). I haven’t actually tried that yet, but I think that should help.
Overalll, they’ve both got their good points and their bad points. Personally, I like Two Summer Sundress better. It has a square neckline, it’s knit from the bottom up instead of needing all those stitches cast on for the waistband, and the instructions are easily adaptable for other yarns. Any problems I have with Summerlin are easily enough fixed, though. Turn it around and knit it from the bottom up, then add ribbons to the straps and waistband for stability.