Category Archives: sweater

My first year of ‘camp’

camp-loopy-2013Over this past year, as I’ve gotten more and more into the online knitting world of blogs, podcasts, Ravelry groups, etc., I’ve seen plenty of ways in which to get involved – both virtually and in-person. Everything from knit-alongs to sheep and wool festivals and fiber shows that you can attend in your local area (or travel to). I haven’t made it to a show yet, but it’s been a lot of fun to participate in a lot of the online activities that I’ve run across.

One of these that I’d heard of at the tail end of last summer was Camp Loopy, held through The Loopy Ewe (TLE). The store is located in Colorado, but has a large online shop as well, that I’ve become very familiar with over recent months. One promotion that they do every summer is Camp Loopy – kind of a win-win for knitters and store alike.

The way it works is that TLE provides both a knitting challenge as well as a discount on yarn to enable knitters to complete their projects. For example, June’s challenge was to knit something using only one skein of yarn (held singly, not doubled) that you’d never knit with before. You can participate whether or not you purchase your yarn through TLE – but they do offer incentives to buy through them, such as a 20% discount during ‘camp week’ for that month, as well as a free skein of a specially-dyed yarn for those who both buy their yarn through TLE AND complete all 3 months’ projects on time.

Along with the basic monthly challenge and incentives, TLE makes the experience a social and fun one by utilizing Ravelry to divide knitters up into groups for each month’s challenge so that they can share their progress, get advice, help each other out and get to know one another better. Everything is around the ‘camp’ theme – for this summer, June’s groups were themed around mountain-climbing (and knitting of course – I was in the Mount Tinknomore group), July’s were treehouses, and August’s were campfire games.

I was excited to participate in Camp Loopy this year for the first time – although I don’t know if I will do so again next year or not. The first month’s challenge was easy – for the one-skein project, I knit a pair of socks out of some yarn I found by browsing through the TLE online store – Crazyfoot by Mountain Colors. I used the Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern and they were a fun and easy knit.

July’s challenge got a little more difficult – you had to knit with at least 500 yards of yarn (single stranded) and use a pattern that’s popular on Ravelry (has at least 1000 projects listed or queued up). I went through my own queue and ended up deciding on the Traveling Woman shawl. Finding a yarn was a bit more challenging since my budget was small, but I ended up using one skein of Hand Maiden Mini Maiden – a wool/silk blend that is one of the softest yarns I’ve knit with so far. I chose a dark brown for my shawl, because I wanted it to match a good portion of my wardrobe, and I tend to wear neutrals a lot. The shawl was fun to knit and I finished well ahead of time.

By the time August rolled around though, it was getting a lot more challenging to complete Camp Loopy – this is a really busy month for me to begin with, getting the kids ready to go back to school, activities kick off, and my knitting time tends to be greatly reduced. And for August, you had to knit with at least 800 yards single-stranded. That’s a lot of yarn! I had to go with something on the inexpensive side to be able to afford multiple skeins, so I picked Cascade Heritage and decided to knit a pattern I’d found and really liked – the Drifting cardigan. For my size, it uses over 800 yards of yarn, so I was set.

It was a really, really easy knit – but I did have to really push it at the end to finish. I used two full skeins of yarn (over 800 yards),  and did finish the sweater in time. And it looked nice – and fit, sort of. It was more of a cropped sweater, which was ok – but not really what I prefer. So a week or two later I ended up picking out the bind-off, ripping the bottom ribbing back out, putting it back on the needles and adding a couple more inches from the 3rd skein that I’d bought, in order to make the sweater fit me better. And I’m really glad that I did so.

So yes, I did complete all three projects, with TLE yarn, and on-time. So I was thrilled to be able to choose one of the specially-dyed skeins of yarn and can’t wait to knit something with it soon. I had fun participating – although I really only became involved in the Ravelry threads during July. I was a little intimidated to join in during June – those boards move fast! And in August I was lucky to have enough time to knit, much less keep up with that month’s thread. I was very ready to have some deadline-free knitting time for September!

Overall it was a fun experience and gave me the chance to try a couple of patterns that I’d wanted to knit and some new yarns that I hadn’t used before. And I came out of it with my first sweater that I’d made for myself too, so it was definitely a success all around, I think. :)

I was not asked to mention or promote The Loopy Ewe or their Camp Loopy event, nor was I compensated in any way for doing so. I just like to share about fun knitting-related events and experiences that I’ve found.

My first sweater!

One of my 2013 goals was to try sweater knitting – and so far, so good. I tackled this for the Alana Dakos knit-along in the Subway Knits group on Ravelry – I’ve liked Alana’s Spring Garden Tee pattern for quite a while and had been wanting to knit it for one of my girls, so this was the perfect opportunity.

I decided to knit the largest size that the pattern is written for – size 14. When I measured my middle daughter, it looked like the size 12 would be just about right for her, but I wanted to make it a bit larger, just in case. It’s always smart to aim for things to fit Hannah – that way if it’s too big, Abbi can wear it, or if it’s too small, Becca can. :)

The recommended yarn for the pattern had been discontinued (Rowan Calmer), so I visited my LYS to see what I could find in a similar-type yarn. I wanted a yarn with some cotton content since it’s a warmer weather garment, but I didn’t want to use straight cotton because there’s no give to it and it’s very difficult to knit with. I wanted something with just a bit of stretch to it – and something washable since it’s for a kid. I also needed an option that wasn’t too expensive since I had to buy around 900 yards of it.

I ended up with Berroco Weekend DK, which is 75% acrylic and 25% cotton (the opposite of the Rowan Calmer). I picked a bright pink since I figured that any one of my three girls would wear it in that color and even though I was aiming for a sweater that would fit Hannah, it could have ended up for any one of them. Plus pink matches just about everything that they’ve got.

I did knit a gauge swatch and was pretty close on the size 6 needles the pattern calls for. My stitch gauge was right on at 6 stitches/inch – my row gauge was off, but I figured that with this type of design, I could just knit the body as long as I wanted it and then stop.

This was a really fun pattern to knit. It’s extremely well-written, which I appreciated since it was my first time dealing with raglan sleeve increases. It’s knit top-down in one piece, which was very easy, and the bit of lace on the cap sleeves gave a welcome change from straight stockinette knitting for a while. I powered through the stockinette on the body portion during a weekend visit at a friend’s house – which worked great since I didn’t have to pay any attention to what I was doing and could easily visit and chat.

The sweater turned out wonderfully and fits Hannah exactly as I hoped it would. It fits, with a bit of room for growth, so she’ll be able to wear it for a good year or two – and then pass it down to Becca once she outgrows it.

I’m trying to decide what I want to knit for my next sweater – I’d love to knit something for me, but that’s a much bigger challenge. Literally – I wear between a 1X and 2X shirt. And I’d be much more worried about gauge since I’d want it to fit me well. I don’t wear a lot of sweaters because I don’t like the bulk, so I’d want to do something lightweight. I’ll have to look through Ravelry and see what I can find – maybe something like the Brise Cardigan or Featherweight Cardigan. Or the Tarim – I already have the pattern for that one.

I took a break from my monthly sock knitting to finish the Spring Garden Tee for the end of the knit-along – but I’m back at it for June with my first Camp Loopy 2013 project. More about that to come. :)

Knitting Updates

So it seems like forever since I’ve posted an update here! Not that I haven’t been knitting. Or taking photos either. I just haven’t had a chance to get them off of the camera until now. :)

And yes, I am still working on the second sock of the pair I’m making for my daughter. But – they are coming along, and I’m finding the forethought heel to be much easier this time around too. I’m still not totally sure if I like this type of heel in the end product or not, but it doesn’t scare me anymore like it did at first. And that’s a good thing.

Here are a few pictures of the second sock-in-progress:

HannahsSecondSock 002

I do like that the color sequence appears to be matching pretty closely to the first sock, and that was almost completely by accident – just where the yarn happened to end after the first sock was done. It’ll be a little off for the heel, since I can’t pick up the color progression in the same spot on the other end of the skein very easily, but I think it’ll be close enough. And besides, the heel’s on the bottom of the foot where it’s rarely seen anyway. Right? ;)

One reason why the sock is moving so slowly right now is that I recently cast on a second project. I know – two projects at once, what am I thinking of? :) But I’m finding that the tedious nature of the sock sometimes means that I don’t always want to work on it, even at times when I still feel like knitting. And with the warmer weather coming (eventually), the sock isn’t a huge priority at the moment.

I decided to re-try a project that I worked on last summer and put aside – the Smock Top pattern from Claire Montgomerie’s Easy Kids Knits book. I like the look of this top and that it’s good for summer, since it’s sleeveless. I stopped working on the first one, mainly because I realized partly through that I’d misjudged the size and it would be too small, even for my youngest daughter. So this time I’m simply making the largest pattern size. I figure that it’s bound to fit somebody, or even if it ends up too big, my oldest will grow into it before too long. She’s just about into Junior sizes in general though, so I’m sure it’ll fit one of the 3 girls.

SmockTopTake2 001

I’m using a yarn that I’d picked up last year on clearance at the LYS – it’s a wool/cotton blend. Hopefully it’ll be light enough for this top. It’s a pretty basic stockinette stitch knit, with a garter stitch border on both sides where the top will button up the back once it’s done. I like that it’s simple knitting – no pattern to pay attention to or remember, and also that it’s knit on size 7 needles (pattern calls for a 6, but I don’t have one and can’t afford a new needle right now so am using a 7). It’s a good project for home, and then I can take the sock with me when I’m out and about.