Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Knitter's remorse

Ok, first of all, I am really, really enjoying working on my Central Park Hoodie. Before this, I'd mostly been knitting socks and mittens in tiny, tiny yarn, and it's really fun to knit something in giant, worsted weight wool. It knits up so quickly! I'm making lots of progress and I have high hopes for it being a nice first sweater.

But here's the thing. I am incapable of leaving well enough alone. I am somewhat dissatisfied with my sweater. I am already planning how I will do my next Central Park Hoodie, even though I am not yet a quarter of the way finished the with first one. First of all, while I am utterly enjoying knitting it in Cascade 220, I think I may do the next one in Cotton-ease. (Go ahead and scoff, yarn snobs. I may be cheap, but at least I'm solvent.) Second of all, I think I will knit it in one piece and try the groovy Elizabeth Zimmermann fake seam trick that I just read about in Knitting Without Tears. Third, I will fiddle with the cables. I haven't figured out how exactly I plan to fiddle with the cables, but I think I may do something wild and wacky with the mirror image cables on the back. If I made it into one big cable, instead of two adjacent little ones, I think I could do one of the really complex cables that I fell in love with when I checked one of Barbara Walker's Treasuries out of the library a while back. (Check out that link, folks. That blog is made of awesome. They actually knit the spider! And take a look at the Saxon Braid, because I think that's what I want on the back of my Central Park Hoodie.) Then I'll find something simpler but matching to do for all the other cables on the sweater. I want to do it in a lighter color, so you can see the cables better. Finally, I want to knit the whole thing on circular needles, rather than straights. I have to scrunch up my knitting to fit it all on the straight needle, and it prevents me from admiring my progress.

All of this sounds like fun, but I don't know why I can't just enjoy the knitting that I'm doing without fixating on how I could do it better. And am I really going to want to knit two Central Park Hoodies in a row?

Have I mentioned that the Chicago Public Library has a truly amazing selection of knitting books, by the way? No, of course I haven't, because I've only posted like three times. Well, the Chicago Public Library has a great selection of knitting books. They're mostly new and trendy, which is a little disappointing, because the historian in me enjoys looking at vintage knitting books. But they have pretty much every recent knitting book that I could want to look at, including the elusive Alice Starmore Fair Isle book. I can't decide if I want to check that one out or if I'll just fall in love with it and then be sad that I'll never be able to justify spending $200 on a knitting book.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Just so I don't forget: Zippery goodness

I think I'm going to put a zipper, not buttons, on my Central Park Hoodie, so I'm saving this little tutorial from Not Martha.

For reasons which I can't entirely explain, I am totally wiped out today. I don't even think I could post anything coherent if I tried. I'm going to go to bed and work on my sweater, and I will try to come up with something fascinating to say tomorrow.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Progress on the Central Park Hoodie

I'm working on the back of my Central Park Hoodie, and I've finished the ribbing. Instead of doing 4 inches of ribbing, I did 4.5, because I don't really want a cropped sweater. There's nothing worse than that rush of cold air on your back when you sit down and there's a gap of exposed flesh between your sweater and your jeans. Like most people who make the CPH, I've added a little bit of length to the sweater to avoid that eventuality. I actually enjoy doing 2x2 ribbing, which I know makes me a knitting freak, but I'm glad it's done and I'm moving on to the cables. Yay cables! It's been more than a year since I've done anything with cables, and I'm quite excited at the prospect.

So that's great. But before I move on to the cables, I need to figure out what I'm going to do about waist shaping. The Central Park Hoodie doesn't have any shaping at all. It has ribbing at the bottom, and then it's the same diameter for the rest of the sweater. I am inclined to believe that's not a flattering look on me, because I'm quite curvy. Actually, that's not exactly right. For the most part, I'm not very curvy at all. I just have big boobs. I don't think that boxy sweaters are a good look on the big-boobed, so my plan was to add some waist shaping.

In an effort to do that, I went through and measured all of the sweaters that I own and like. (None of these are hand-knit sweaters, mind you, because the CPH will be my first sweater.) Now, none of my clothes fit perfectly, because of my odd shape. Part of the reason that I started knitting was in an effort to finally get my hands on sweaters that fit my big-boobed, small-framed body. But when I measured my favorite sweaters, I realized that they are all 36", which is my bust measurement, and none of them have any waist shaping. And that makes me wonder if maybe I don't need to add any waist shaping to my CPH.

However, when I looked at my most CPH-like sweater, I realized that in a sense it does have waist shaping. Like the CPH it has several inches of 2x2 ribbing at the bottom. Unlike the CPH, the body of the sweater is stockinette. However, there's a panel of 2x2 ribbing that continues up the sides of the sweater to the armholes. I think that allows the sweater to expand where it needs to expand and contract where I'd like the sweater to be a little narrower. The CPH has 14 stitches of stockinette on the sides, and I'm thinking about replacing it with 2x2 ribbing, for quick and easy waist shaping.

I can't decide whether that's crazy. I am a totally inexperienced sweater knitter, and I've never seen ribbing recommended as a way to achieve waist shaping. It feels like going out on a huge limb. But part of me thinks that nothing ventured nothing gained and that I know that I'm the kind of knitter who enjoys figuring things out by trial and error. So I might go ahead and do it, and if it doesn't work out then I'll just rip it out and start again. I think I'm going to post a thing on Ravelry just to see if people think it's a really crazy idea.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

On the title of the blog

It occurred to me that some of y'all aren't going to get the reference. Some of you are not from the U.S. Some of you were not faux-rebellious teenagers, or at least not in the way that led one to read that particular magazine. And horrifyingly, some of you are too young. So here's the deal with the title.

Back in the late '80s and early 1990s, there was an American teen magazine called Sassy, and it was cool. It wasn't nearly as cool as it thought it was, but it was still pretty nifty. It told you how to make your own clothes and featured models in babydoll dresses and combat boots and acknowledged that readers might possibly at least be considering having sex. The Sassy writers were obsessively into bands, and even if they weren't the same bands that I was obsessively into, I recognized them as kindred dorky music-obsessed spirits. Each of the Sassy staffers had a distinctive personality, and you knew them all by name. They went to cool cafes in the East Village, which was the kind of thing that I would have liked to be doing if I hadn't been stuck in a boring city with limited babysitting money to spend on beverages. Every year they had a "reader produced issue," in which readers applied for the staff's jobs and they picked the best ones and let them put together the magazine, for real. Compared to the standard teen girl magazines, which at the time still featured crash diets and the like, Sassy seemed really radical. I was pretty punk rock as a teenager, so I pretended that I thought Sassy was just ok, but I was really pretty obsessed. Besides Heathers, it was pretty much the first mainstream pop culture that seemed to acknowledge that girls like me even existed.

So every year, Sassy had a contest to find the Sassiest Girl in America. This was Sassy's version of the model search contests that magazines like 'Teen had every year, except that Sassiest Girls were smart and accomplished and awesome, on top of being pretty. Readers applied, a bunch of sassy girls were flown to New York for makeovers and interviews and random cool activities, and then the sassiest girl was selected and had her sassy face splashed on the cover of the magazine.

I'm pretty sure that I never applied to be the Sassiest Girl in America. I wasn't really Sassiest Girl material. For one thing, I would have been mortified to have my picture splashed all over anything. (I'm pretty sure that I did apply for the reader produced issue, though. I vaguely think I may have applied for Kim France's job. Scary that I remember that.) But that's the deal with the blog's title. I couldn't tell you what this has to do with knitting, but I'll try to come up with something.

And she's off!

So today, after making enough gauge swatches to make a gauge-swatch patchwork quilt, I finally cast on for my Central Park Hoodie. Because I have morphed into the loosest knitter in the history of humanity, I am using size 3 needles for the ribbing and size 5 for the rest of the sweater. That's three sizes down from what's suggested, and I'm still not quite getting gauge. I chose the size with zero ease, though, and I've heard the thing runs a bit small, so I'm hoping that it won't matter so much if it's an inch wider than it's supposed to be. We'll see. I cannot bring myself to swatch on size 4 needles, so this is just going to have to do. The current plan is to add some waist shaping right above the ribbing and otherwise knit the pattern as written.

In other news, I finally seem to have mastered tubular cast-on. That means it's time to learn Italian tubular cast-on, which doesn't use waste yarn and is therefore better for my budget and the environment.

In other other news, I have especially vicious vertigo today. Why is it that when I have particularly awful vertigo, I can't concentrate on my work but have no trouble concentrating on various knitting-related websites?

(Some people here may not have heard the saga of my vertigo. It's not much of a saga. Sometimes I have vertigo. It's usually a nuisance and occasionally a rather large pain in my ass. It's also the source of my Ravelry handle. I'm sort of amused at all the people who are horrified by those who name themselves "Madison'sMom" or "MommyofTwo," because clearly it's vastly crazier and more pathological to name yourself after a medical symptom.)

And the only other thing is that I do seem to be making some progress on the article I'm trying to churn out. It may be crappy, but it will at least be done. As my friend Lisa pointed out, even if it's rejected, it'll be good to get feedback from some readers.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In which I enter the world of knit blogging.

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm mostly starting this blog because it occurred to me that "Sassiest Girl in America" was an awesome name for a blog. Perhaps someday my friend Meira and I will follow through on our ambition to track down all of the Sassiest Girls in America and write "where are they now" pieces on them, and I'll post that here. In the meantime, I will blog about my knitting. I'm sure that will fascinate everyone.