A question of fit

I am struggling with a fit question on the Paid in Full tank.  I have finished about 8 inches of this tank, which is knit in-the-round and bottom-up.  I did almost all of this while on my trip to Malaysia, during which I was too lazy to transfer the stitches to a super long needle and try it on.  In fact, because I was knitting it on a 24″ needle, I kept thinking it was on the small size, but was content with the fact that the lace would make it very stretchy.  I have now taken the opportunity to try it on, and to be honest, I am fretting about the fit.  I think it’s too big.

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It feels really loose.  I don’t think it looks terrible in the above photo, but I have already put in all of the waist shaping and there is still too much fabric around the waist.  Here is a different view:

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If you look at the pattern photos, the tank is not skin tight and does have some ease, particularly on the back view.  I really like the way this looks on Deb, where it clearly has a bit of ease but not too much.  (This is the tank as worn by Deb Hoss, the designer. She looks good in everything.)

© Deb Hoss

When I compare mine to Deb’s, I think mine looks a little bit big, but it feels VERY VERY BIG!  It is super stretchy, as you can see here:

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Below is a photo taken with a measuring tape.  For zero ease, I would need 42″ across the bust.  I am getting about 36″ on the un-stretched piece laid flat, measured just after the first set of waist decreases.  So, this piece shouldn’t be too far off.  Even allowing for a lot of stretch in the lace, it SHOULD fit.

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When I cast on, I had to choose between a size 38.5 or a 44.  The 38.5 would give me 3.5″ of negative ease, while the 44 would give 2″ of positive ease.  I went for the 44 and I think that was a bad choice.  However, 3.5″ seemed like a lot of negative ease.  I didn’t want to end up with something that was tight and thus didn’t get worn.

There is a moral here: when knitting in the round, try it on!  Try it on before you knit 8 inches!  Laziness is a terrible excuse!  Even if you are sitting on a fabulous beach on an island in the South China Sea while knitting it! (Note that the moral of the story should always be accompanied by exclamation points; the more the better.)

I now have a dilemma.  I can’t decide what to do, and so I am in limbo at the moment.  Here are my choices:

  1. Pretend everything is good and carry on.
  2. Rip out a couple of inches and add in more waist shaping.  I have 5 sets (20 stitches decreased), and I could possible make 8 sets (32 stitches decreased).
  3. Brace myself, rip the whole thing out, and start over.

Note that my options don’t include “Throw it in a basket and forget about it till next year.”  That is because I love this pattern and I love the yarn.  I want to have this tank in my wardrobe.  Help me, dear readers!  What to do?  I need some advice.

Adventures in 3Dknitting: the Ojai Top

Doug went to Vancouver last week and was able to take Emma her birthday surprise sweater.  (Given that her birthday is in May, it was definitely a surprise!)

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This is the Ojai Top, designed by Andrea Babb, which was published in Wool Studio: The Knitwear Capsule Collection from Interweave Press.  I knit it with Dye for Yarn Fingering Merino with Silk in the colour Fading Stormy Night.

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I finished knitting this before we went to Malaysia but was waiting to get modeled shots before showing it to you.  (It doesn’t look like much on a hangar!) I had worried throughout the construction about how it would look and fit once blocked.  I think we can safely say that I needn’t have worried.  It looks pretty great on Emma.

This is an interesting piece to knit.  The loops are actually three-dimensional, as you can see in the below photograph:

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As you start to build up the loops, the piece looks a bit of a mess; I referred to it as a Kraken in an earlier post.  You can read more about its construction and the beginning stages of knitting Ojai in these posts: here and here.  I struggled a bit when it came to ending off all of the threads (each loop has two threads to end off); what to do with the hole left in the fabric from creating the loop?  The trick is to not tack down the loop when weaving in the ends, but to sew the hole together in a way that reinforces the tunnel structure of the loops.

I had also worried about my choice of yarn.  First, because I substituted a yarn with 25% silk content.  When I was knitting it, it felt very unstructured and I was wishing that I had used a 100% wool yarn as indicated in the pattern.  But the real point of contention was the colour.  I ordered it over the internet, and when it arrived, it had more variegation in the skein than I thought it would.  I decided to use it anyway, with the hopes that the finished garment would be very drapey and look like flowing water.  It is interesting that Doug and Emma chose to photograph it next to a lake where it really does seem to flow like water.

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They had driven up to see a friend (hi, Jill!) who lives at Lilloet Lake, in British Columbia, and they took these photos there.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

I knit this in the small size.  When I washed it, it grew by a few inches, so I was very careful not to stretch it and didn’t pin it.  It is knit sideways so the extra length goes into the width (thus into the sleeve, which I think is good in this case as Emma is tall).  I do think that the short side is rather short.  If I knit it again I would think about adding some stitches to the cast on so that it gained a few inches in length. (Perhaps Emma would disagree?)

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Emma notes that the one armhole is a bit tight.  I originally sewed the side seam to the length indicated and then crocheted around the armhole as instructed (which allows the tubes to be tacked down properly at the armhole).  However, I felt that it was too tight, and re-did it so that there would be an extra 2 inches of circumference around the arm.  It could have used with an even more generous arm width and I may re-do it for her in future.  (This does not involve any re-knitting, but just making the side seam shorter.)

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I am very happy with how this turned out.  It is a striking piece and is sure to be a conversation starter.

Pattern Radar: Fly me to the moon

Here is a short and sweet Pattern Radar post.  Today, the Pom Pom Quarterly released their new issue (#26) with 11 patterns inspired by the moon and its phases.  And they are fantastic!  Look at this:

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© Amy Gwatkin

This is Ixchel by Catherine Clark.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  This is such a beauty.  I think it is a showstopper, and on top of that, it looks like it would be totally fun to knit.  Not convinced? How about this beauty?

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© Amy Gwatkin

I am a crazy fan of black and white knits and this one hits all of the right notes for me.  It is practically luminescent.  The design is Luna by Anna Strandberg.  I think it is so classy, with lovely architectural lines and a modern shape.  It makes my fingers itch to knit it!

I’ll show you one more, because I can’t resist:

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© Amy Gwatkin

This is Artemis by Esther Romo.  It is positively swoon-worthy.  It has been a long time since I’ve seen a collection with three designs that capture my attention so thoroughly.  (And while these are my favorites in the collection, it has 8 other great patterns!)

I can’t end without pointing out two things.  First, all three of these designers are new to me! And that makes me all kinds of happy.  Second, we see continued here the trend to use more diverse models in knitting pattern design.  I mentioned this in a recent post, and am very happy to see more and more designers and publications using models of all shapes, colours, and ages.  These beautiful models make me all kinds of happy, too.

I knitted and snorkelled (alas, not simultaneously)

I was commenting on a reading blog I follow about my recent trip to Malaysia and I wrote “I knitted and snorkelled (alas, not simultaneously)” and thought to myself “That is a good title for a post!”.  So, here we are.

I went snorkelling 5 times on our short holiday on Tioman Island.  I had only done it once before, many years ago, and now realise that I am far too out of shape to have jumped off a boat in the middle of the South China Sea and gone off swimming in rough chop and currents.  Of the five swims (I want to say “dives” but I don’t think that counts for snorkelling) I had panic attacks on the first – while I tried to figure it out – and struggled quite a bit on the last two because of the conditions, but the second and third were lovely.  Although of course there is massive die-off of the coral, as there is everywhere, there were still spots where the coral was alive and beautiful and the marine life bountiful and colourful.  I decided I like this sport, but that I definitely need to be in better shape before I make a hobby of it.

We could definitely say that the knitting was a more successful venture – no panicking, just smooth sailing all the way.  I took two projects with me, and worked a little on each.  The fuschia tank top knit in pure raw silk was a good project to work on at the beach, and I finished one piece and knitted about 3 inches of the other.  (For information on the patterns for these two tanks, you can read this post.)  Here is the finished piece:

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I wasn’t so sure about the colour (the shop was a skein short of my first choice – Capri Blue).  But now that I have been working on it, I think it is a great summer colour – very cheery and bright.  I also managed to knit 7 inches (in the round) of the Paid in Full tank:

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It is squished onto a short-ish needle for ease of knitting, thus the lace doesn’t show up so well in this photo. Once blocked, it will be gorgeous.  I am loving every minute of this knit: the pattern is so pretty and well-written and the yarn is a joy to knit.  The yarn, Tern by Quince & Co, has 25% silk and it is springy and light and feels so good on the hands while knitting.  Each stitch is beautifully formed and distinct.  I love it!  The pattern has such professional details, too; I love the way the lace pattern starts before the ribbing ends and how it emerges organically from the ribbing:

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Doug and I are still jet-lagged (and Doug is about to fly to Vancouver which will just compound everything).  But it is a glorious Saturday and I have nothing that must get done today.  I plan to sit in the garden and knit, sans the snorkelling.

Tioman Island, Malaysia

We have just returned from a few weeks in Malaysia.  Most of the trip was business; both Doug and I had work commitments in Johor Bahru.  Here is my favorite photo from Johor, taken in the old town:

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Depsite busy work schedules, we managed to carve out five days for a short holiday to Tioman Island.  Tioman is a protected marine conservation park off the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia in the South China Sea.  You have to take a boat to get to the island, from the colourful jetty at Mersing:

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There are a number of resorts on Tioman, which is known for its dive sites, its beautiful beaches, and the tropical rainforest which covers most of the island.  We stayed at the Japamala Resort, a fantastic resort built with “rustic luxury” in mind.  Here is a photo of the bar/communal hangout/boat dock, one of the iconic features of the place:

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Each room at the resort is an individual cabin built up into the forest and is constructed with traditional methods.  Japamala is proud that it hasn’t cut down any trees to build the resort.  Here is the view from our cabin:

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The cabins are literally in the canopy of the rainforest:

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and reached by walkways:

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and lots of stairs:

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To get to our cabin (number 13), we had to climb 125 steps.  (I counted.)  There are cabins with fewer steps, but the higher up you go the better the views.  We felt as if we were perched in the sky, and had left civilisation behind.

Twice we were visited by a large family of monkeys, who were clearly very much at home.  Here are some of them on our balcony.  They loved the swinging chair and liked to play.

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We counted 15 in this family group including two very small babies. This baby sat on its mother while she was being groomed, just a few feet from our door.

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We were told to always keep our doors locked because the monkeys loved to get inside and create mischief.  You can tell this guy would totally raid the fridge!

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This is a resort which understands the concept of a get-away.  It has very limited connectivity so you can put your phone and laptop away.  You can hike through the forest or swim in the sea, you can snorkel or scuba, but you can equally do absolutely nothing:

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We spent a day on a snorkeling expedition.  We were taken by boat to a number of snorkeling sites, with fantastic corals and a huge array of marine life.  This is Batu Malang – a collection of rocks that is famous for its snorkelling and diving.

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The corals here were amazing.  I must say I was intimidated by the choppy water and the currents at this site.  I had only snorkelled once before – 26 years ago – and this was a bit adventurous for me.  I had a few scary moments.  I most enjoyed one of the other sites, where we floated through schools of colourful tropical fish in a protected beach.

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Japamala has a happy hour every evening at sunset, out on the dock.  There are only 16 rooms, so never too many guests.  You can be as sociable or as private as you wish.  While we were there, there were three couples on their honeymoons.  We spent an evening socialising with a just-married Italian couple and spent another with a couple from Potsdam (where we lived for a decade many years ago).  We also had lots of time to ourselves.

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The food at Japamala was superb.  I frequently have trouble travelling because I have coeliac’s disease and must follow a 100% gluten-free diet.  This can be very challenging in Asia.  When we first got to the resort, we explained my dietary restirctions very carefully.  Once they understood exactly what the issues were, especially concerning soy sauce, I had no troubles.  Breakfasts were beautiful – there were lovely tropical fruits, yoghurt, a large menu which included a number of gluten-free options, fantastic smoothies, all served in the open-air restaurant.  Malaysia’s national dish – nasi lemak – is traditionally served for breakfast and is gluten-free (although you should always inquire carefully).  It consists of rice steamed in coconut milk and served with sambal (a spicy chili paste), fried anchovies, cucumbers, and peanuts.  The nasi lemak at Japamala is especially good.

They have two menus here: an Italian menu and an Asian one (predominatley Thai with some Malaysian and Vietnamese entries).  We never ordered off the Italian menu, so I cannot comment, but the Thai food was fantastic.  We had fresh fish, tender and spicy squid, complex and gorgeous vegetable curries, and a variety of salads – tofu, mango, eggplant, seafood.  I am perfectly confident that you can eat fantastic food here on a gluten-free diet, and not feel that you are missing anything.  (I wish I had photos of some of the beautiful food to show you, but I was much too busy enjoying the food to photograph it.)

The staff is also lovely and attentive.  I would like to thank them for making our trip carefree!  This last year has been a stressful one, but Japamala quickly melted the stress away.

Did Doug make friends with the monkeys?  You bet!

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And did Kelly get any knitting done?  Absolutely!

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Off the grid

I am in Malaysia.

Yay!

I got stuck in the computer meltdown at Heathrow on the way here, and spent many hours in line and more hours stuck on the tarmac.  I arrived very late.

Boo!

But I had my knitting with me.

Yay!

Now I am jetlagged and writing this at 3am.

Boo!

In a few hours, I will head to a tropical island resort that looks amazing.

Yay!

There will be no internet or mobile connections there.  I will be totally off grid.

Boo!  Wait – I mean yay!

I will have my knitting with me.

Yay! (I seem to have lost the rhythm here…)

 

Summer travel knitting

I am flying to Malaysia this week and have spent a lot of time considering what to pack.  I admit that 98% of this time has been allocated to making decisions about which knitting projects I will pack, and the remaining 2% has been allocated to more mundane matters such as clothing and footwear.

I am taking two brand new projects with me, both for summer-y tank tops.  I have been looking for a good work-appropriate tank top – something that will look great under a jacket but which is classy enough to wear on its own.  I fell in love with Deb Hoss’ lovely design Paid in Full:

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© Deb Hoss

The design calls for Quince & Co Tern, which is a fingering weight wool with a touch of silk.  I knit up and washed a swatch, and I am already crazy about this yarn!  The combination of yarn and pattern is just luscious and I have a feeling this will be hard to put down.  I bought the yarn in a soft grey shade called Mist:

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I have also bought some raw silk, Ito Kinu, in the colour Hydrangea:

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I am going to use this, held double, to knit another tank – Sayer by Julie Hoover.  This tank has a crew neck on one side and a V-neck on the other and can be worn with either side to the front.  It has more ease and is a more casual piece.

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© Julie Hoover

I have already swatched both tanks, and have cast on each.  The Kinu is a bit rough on the hands (although it softens considerably on washing).  I think this makes them really good knits to take together – I can alternate between them, thus keeping my interest peaked and my hands from getting too sore.

I meant to write this post yesterday, but Doug surprised me with a ticket to see Paul Simon, on his farewell tour, at Hyde Park! (I went by myself as Doug is already in Malaysia.) I was at the Simon and Garfunkle concert in Central Park in 1981, and saw them again at Shea Stadium in 1983.  So, it was pretty cool to also be part of Simon’s good-bye tour.  I have lots of memories tied up in this music.

Yesterday was a scorcher in London.  It was an all-day affair with prior acts including Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor. There is no shade at the venue, and no seats.  The sun was relentless.  But the event was well managed and everything ran smoothly.  I had a good spot near the front (thanks to a Golden Circle ticket from Doug) and had a great view of the stage.  He had some fabulous musicians with him and sang a range of songs from his many different periods.  The audience was a great mix of old and young, and everyone – including me – was singing and dancing and having fun.  One song brought a very strong memory of me singing it with my dad and made me cry.  It was a very long day, and I was totally wiped out when I finally got home well past midnight.  It is 37 years since the Central Park concert, and I seem to have aged 37 years in the meantime; who would have guessed?