Friday, November 16, 2012

Finished Object Friday: Laika

Laika and I did indeed find our happily ever after.


Before I get into the details, reasons I love Laika:
  • I bought yarn with a project in mind and then actually used the yarn for said project.
  • I started it on the way to Lake Placid so it makes me think about Mike finishing an Ironman.
  • It kept me sane in the jury room for over 2 weeks in August/September. 
  • It fits.  Most importantly, the upper arms are not too tight (explained below).
  • I FOUND AWESOME BUTTONS! (more on this below too).

Basic Specs:
Pattern:  Laika, from Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague
Yarn:  Verdant Gryphon Mithril in Dolce Far Niente (2.1 skeins, about 1550 yards)
Needles:  3mm and 2.75mm
Cast on: July 18, 2012
Finished: November 11, 2012

Notes, thoughts, and general excited rambling…

Pattern:  It’s Ysolda, the pattern rocks.  That said, being familiar with shaping lace was a huge help.  I found everything completely clear, but I read many comments that the directions for the yoke and body were confusing, so maybe this wouldn’t be the best choice for a first sweater or even first top-down sweater.  I’ve knit oodles of top-down sweaters, and at least three or four sweaters with lace shaping, so I found the pattern easy to follow. 

Construction:  For the most part, it’s a basic top-down raglan.  When the main body portion is finished, the stitches are put on hold until the hood is knit.  You then pick up stitches up one front side, around the hood, down the other front side, and join this together with the live hem stitches to knit the garter edging in the round.  I love the look of the end result, but cramming 500-600 stitches on a 32 in circular needle made this part a bit tedious, yet not tedious enough that I was willing to go buy a longer circular.  Messing up the placement of the second row of buttonholes and having to rip out the bind off and 4 rows to fix them didn’t add to my love of this part.  And seriously, bind off loosely!

Modifications:  Not much. I added a bit of length to the body, maybe even a bit too much, but I figured better to be a little long than too short.  I knew the mesh would lengthen when blocked but wasn’t sure how much so it was a little difficult to judge length.  And given the edging construction I explained above, fixing length wouldn’t exactly be a simple process of taking out a hem bind off and adding an inch or two if the sweater didn’t block out as much as expected. 

The only other minor change was that I pretty much ignored the sleeve shaping instructions and shaped the sleeve to my arm.  I think the directions instruct you to start decreasing after about 20 rounds, but I have biceps. Apparently freakishly large enough biceps for 2 or 3 of my handknit sweaters to have too tight upper arms--lesson learned.  I started decreasing around row 50 and tweaked from there.  Also added a few rounds to the sleeve cuffs just because I like the look of a wider cuff.  Judging sleeve length was also difficult due to the stretchy mesh, so I blocked the sweater after finishing the first sleeve to make sure I was happy with the length before starting the second one.  I really didn’t want to have to rip out 2 cuffs.  And again:  bind off loosely!  Even though I was consciously trying to keep things loose, my first cuff felt tight so I ripped it out and used the stretchier bind off I use for shawls (p2tog, slide stitch back to left needle, repeat). 

Sizing:  I almost always knit a 34 inch bust size, but for Laika, I knit the 36 inch (my actual measurement is around 35.5 if anyone cares for comparison).  My teeny tiny swatch seemed to indicate that my gauge was a little smaller than what was specified, and I didn't want to take a chance on the front gaping when buttoned. Plus, I sort of liked the idea of this sweater fitting a little more loosely than some of my super fitted knits. I think the fit came out just about perfect--fitted enough to be flattering, loose enough to be comfortable and lay smoothly.  I just went and measured and the bust is about 34 inches when buttoned.  Gauge was definitely off then!

Yarn:  Ysolda notes that using a  heay laceweight instead of fingering weight yarn is an option, and I ran with that.  I love that I used laceweight, even despite my dislike of actually knitting with laceweight.  I get warm easily so I like the lighter fabric, and I like that even the high quality yarn I used was by far less expensive than most fingering weight yarns.  Laika needs a lot of yardage (yarn is held double for the garter edging).  I bought 3 skeins, which was way more than I needed (used less than 100 yards from that third skein).  Even so, I still saved $$$, and now I have about 700 yards leftover for a lace stole or something.  Not to mention, being a huge Lord of the Rings nerd, I was excited to have an opportunity to use Mithril.  I fully expect arrows and spears to bounce right off this sweater. Bonus! And if you're not a Lord of the Rings nerd, just forget that last line.

Another fun fact:  the only yarn I bought in 2012 were these 3 skeins and 1 skein of sock yarn.  Yay for stash control!  Can't say I was as restrained with the fiber purchases, but let's not go there.

BUTTONS, BUTTONS!!  Can you tell I'm sort of excited about the buttons? I was sure button choice was going to make or break this sweater.  There are so many that they had to be unique but not too flashy.  I only wanted to match the color if I found something super cool looking, otherwise, I had to find a nice contrast, but not too much of a contrast.  In other words, I expected to struggle and be ridiculously indecisive and second guess for days whether I chose the right buttons.  Nope.  The first ones I held up were meant to be.

I love the buttons I found.  LOVE them.  Good thing too since at almost $2/button, buying 22 was starting to approach the cost of the yarn.  I do feel like buying such expensive buttons was a little bit frivolous, but I figure that after conceptualizing the sweater, buying nice yarn, swatching, and knitting for over 3 months, cheaping out on buttons would be stupid.  The buttons turned this from a sweater I'm pleased with to one of my favorite knits EVER.  So yeah, a few extra bucks seems worth it.

So there ya go.  Everything you wanted to know about Laika and more.  Unless you wanted to see it with the hood up, in which case:

Visit Tami's for more FO Fridays!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I'm a pretty reserved person and not usually prone to excited outbursts or squeals of excitement, but just this once.....

That, my friends, is a finished Laika.  Buttons sewn, ends woven in, blocked.  In other words, finished.  Completely finished.  Worn to work yesterday and everything.  So once again.....SQUEEEE!

Modeled pictures and loads of details coming on Friday.  I have a ton to say because if you couldn't already tell, I LOVE THIS SWEATER!

I'll be heading back to sweater #2 and the cables that never end now.

Simple cables, but lots of them.  Every other row.  Progress ain't speedy.