Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finishing Touches

Here it is almost the first of January 2010. The sweater is complete, washed and hanging over the woodstove to dry. It's absorbing some of that good woodsmokey flavor.

My last post ended with the body complete. Next step was knitting the arms, which I did on my Brother bulky knitting machine. The machine has a punchcard for the pattern, and I worked out all the other details before starting. I was a little unsure about the arm length. Kina gave me a measurement, but was this from his armpit, or from the armpit of a loosely fitting sweater, or...? I forged ahead and knit up a 80 row arm. When I took it off and attached it to the sweater, it looked too short. I put it back on the machine and knit another 10 rows, knit another 2 inches of ribbing by hand, and sewed up all the seams. Now it was definitely too long. So I ripped out the ribbing, unraveled about 10 rows and reknit the ribbing. Now (fingers crossed) it's just right!

Next I knitted up the button band and collar. I made the collar nice and tall by knitting back and forth adding one stitch each time from the collar back to the bottom of the front. My mom donated 5 deer antler buttons from her collection.

Then I called Kina and asked him if he wanted pockets (I'd forgotten to ask before I started knitting). He said yes, which meant (gulp) I had to cut slits in the finished sweater front. I've read accounts on how to do this, but have never tried it. No time like the present.

I sewed some brightly colored yarn along the cutting line, stitched on each side of it with straight (sewing machine) stitch, then snipped between the stitched lines. I also zigzaged each cut edge just for extra security. Then I picked up 25 stitches along the cut edge (away from button band), hooked them on the knitting machine needles, knit 30 rows, and cast off, leaving a nice long tail of yarn. I did this on each side. Then I took the sweater up to the house where it was warm. To finish the pockets, I sewed (with yarn) the three sides of the square (described above) down to the inside of the sweater (the fourth side is open for the hand to get in). I picked up stitches along the other cut edge and knitted an inch or so of ribbing. Sewed the edges down and Voila.... Pockets!

Sorry I was so involved in the process, I forgot to take photos of the process. But here's a few photos of the finished sweater!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Sweater Continues

A few weeks have gone by. I decided to knit the body of the sweater by hand, and finish it on the knitting machine. Christmas is fast approaching. I warned Kina that I might not get it done in time. He said something like, "no worries".

My last post ended with the pot boiling on the stove filled with yarn and lichen. In the morning, when the brew had cooled, I pulled out the yarn and it was rather a slimy mess, but a beautiful color.

The best way to get the yarn clean is to whip it around your head like a lasso. The wet lichen flies off in all directions. It's a good idea to stand well clear windows, other people, etc (out in the field is best). I always end up with a fine spray stuck to my face, which may in the end be good for my complexion (is that a chin hair or a bit of 'old man's beard'?).

I did three dye pots with the two bags of lichen I gathered on my walks. As you can see, the shades vary from dark rusty brown to a light tan. Some of it turned out varigated (probably due to sloppy layering technique), but I rather like it... almost like handpainted.

Here's the four colors that will make up the sweater, and what it looked like a couple weeks ago. The dark brown is lichen dyed natural grey, and the tan is also natural grey lichen dyed with a weaker solution. The light grey is a white and natural brown mix, and the dark grey is natural from a greying black sheep.

It took me awhile to work my way up through the bird. This is a kingfisher that has gone punk. I think I will outline him in black, so he stands out more. The kingfisher is an energetic bird who has a strong sense of territory and eats a lot of seafood. I hope that when Kina wheres this sweater he won't be distracted by two kingfishers talking to each other across his button band!