half-assed knit blog
half-assed knit blog
half-assed knit blog
October, 2007

Mad Sweater Science, Part II

In typical last-minute fashion, I’ve decided that NaKniSweMo is a go. And the sweater to be knit in a month will be…

*drumroll* (yeah like you really care)

DROPS jacket in ”Eskimo” or ”Silke-Alpaca” with A-shape and ¾-long or long sleeves – yeah, what kind of crapmonkey name is that? I’m not typing that over and over. I’m not even copying-and-pasting it over and over. It will be called the Mmmalabrigo Jacket. Because it will be made of Mmmalabrigo. And it is a jacket. Except, it’s really a sweater, but they call it a jacket, so I will too.


I’ve gone and rewritten it as a top-down raglan. Partly because of my usual seaming-phobia, but mostly because I totally don’t have enough yarn to make it. I have 4 skeins of worsted Malabrigo. That’s 864 yards. I’m making the smallest size, and probably going with 3/4-length sleeves, and not flaring it out as much at the bottom, but I’m still going to run out of yarn. So making it top-down means I can run out of yarn at a spot where I can go “oh well, it’s long enough, I’ll just stop”, instead of, “oh crap, I have no left front shoulder!”

And I thought that this would be the perfect time to finally try a compound raglan. I’d taken that Maggie Righetti book back to the library already, but I remembered the principle – increase every other row down to the shoulder tip, every 4 rows down to the underarm, and every other row for another 1-1.5″. Okay. No problem. Wheeee!

Then I started doing The Math.

The Math told me that the distance from collar to bust with the original pattern would be between 7 and 8 inches.

The Math told me that the distance from collar to bust with a traditional raglan line (increasing every other row all the way through) would be between 7 and 8 inches.

The Math told me that if I did a compound raglan the armholes would be somewhere around my waist. That seems like a problem, since that’s not where my arms are.

I think The Math is screwing with me. Or I screwed up The Math. Or my arms are growing out of my neck and I just never noticed. Whyyyy doesn’t it work? I don’t know. I’m tired and don’t feel like figuring it out. So traditional raglan it is! But I’ll get you someday, compound raglan. I know where you live, compound raglan. You can’t hide from me.


I’m sticking pretty close to the numbers of the smallest size in the pattern and I’ve worked out everything except the collar. I haven’t decided what to do about the collar. I think it might eat me, so it’ll have to be modified a bit.

I’m swatched and ready.

And after a week of knitting, I’ll discover that I got all the numbers wrong and have to frog and start over. Yay! Looking forward to it! Kill me now!

Ahhh, now that feels more like November.

Gigantic Gaping Fifi Chunks

Fifi is a whore. A filthy, diseased whore. I hate you, Fifi.

I have WIP guilt. Plus, if I do the NaKniSweMo thing, I’ll be ignoring Fifi for yet another month. So I thought I should at least get the body done, if not the stupid sleeves. My brilliant plan was to put in some little slits at the hip. I like side slits. They’re cute and give the Giant Hips a little extra wiggle room. But there was a problem.

I should have foreseen the problem.

I blame my rampant stupidity.

See, I knit Fifi with a whole lot of negative ease. That’s fine, because Calmer is stretchy. There isn’t very much waist and hip shaping in the pattern. That’s fiiiiine, because Calmer is stretchy. But guess what. If you introduce slits to the sides, Calmer stops stretching at that point, because there’s nothing pulling at it. The result is gigantic gaping chunks of non-shirt, instead of small, cute slits. Well, crap.

I tried Fifi on. Noted the gigantic gaping chunks. Noted the uneven stitches, the weird random wrinkles (how can it possibly wrinkle? Thanks to Exxxtreeeeeme Negative Ease, the thing is sized for a five-year-old), the armholes that appeared to be too big, and also the gigantic gaping chunks. Then I noted that I was trying it on with a sports bra and sweatpants and that surely couldn’t be helping things any.

Changed into a proper bra and pants, and things looked a little better. A little.


Yeah, I experimentally tied up a gigantic gaping chunk with some Unnecessary Ribbon. I don’t know what else to do. I can’t leave them as gigantic gaping chunks. That’s just not attractive.

I can rip back and reknit without the slits, but I think it’ll cling too much towards the bottom. I can reknit with extra hip increases, but that would draw a lot of attention to the messy-looking purl columns running down the sides. I don’t know why they’re messy-looking, but they are. I can shorten it to the point above the slits, since it fits okay up to there, but I think that would be a bit too short.

Or I can do the ribbon thing. Eh. I think it looks a bit trashy, especially given that the top is so fitted. But maybe a bright peach cutesy cable-knit top can’t look trashy. I don’t knoooow.


Fifi is an armless WHORE.

November is Masochism Month

I usually do NaNoWriMo every November. I’ve done it for four years and have written some truly horrible and hilarious novels. I just opened up last year’s novel, and it includes such chapter titles as:

  • The Case of the Missing Back Hair
  • Suck My Godly Cock!
  • In Which Nothing of Interest Happens
  • NinjaPirateZombieViking
  • The Inevitable Jello Orgy
  • Hippopotamus, Revisited

That is the sort of “great” “literature” I produce every November. But I’m not doing it this year, for a bunch of reasons that are mind-numbingly boring so I won’t speak of them. It doesn’t seem right to be doing nothing at all, though. November is Masochism Month! I need some ridiculous challenge that will make my life miserable!

So perhaps I should try this NaKniSweMo thing. I have two sweaters* that I want to make and already have the yarn for, right? The textured tunic and the Garnstudio jacket thing? I could be ready to start either one by November. But which one to make? Textured tunic would probably be the easier knit, but the jacket thing would be at a larger gauge and probably quicker. Hmm…

* As I typed “two sweaters”, the universe laughed loudly at me.

But. Buuuut. There’s always a but, and really it’s more of an ass, in the “oh ass crap fuck ass ass ass!” sense. My pile of indecisive Silky Wool has crawled inside my head, not unlike a brain parasite. I was poking around on Ravelry and spotted this pattern.

Now, I don’t want to make that sweater. Of course not, that would be too easy. But it gave me an idea. So I pulled out the sketchbook and drew up a little exercise in v-necks and asymmetry.


Hmm. Cute. Cute, right? Stockinette and moss stitch only, nothing more complicated that would melt into yarn poo. Just a little weird with the angles of the front panels. Okay. I could maybe make this. I could see this in Silky Wool. Good. Okay. Problem solved.

Poke poke poke, around the internets, for nothing in particular because NOW I KNOW WHAT I’M MAKING HA. Oh, look, the Winter 2007 Interweave Knits preview is up. Well, I’d better take a look, just in case there’s something even more suitable for the Silky Wool. You never know…

Ha ha ha, sez the universe.

I went through the whole list, and nothing caught my eye. Until I got to the very last pattern. Rosemary’s Swing Jacket.

Well crap. That kind of reminds me of the Thing I sketched, except weirder and better. Moss stitch everywhere! Crazy asymmetrical front with a crazy asymmetrical collar! I wants it!

But, well, it’s written for worsted weight yarn, so I’d have to do lots of The Math to make it work in Silky Wool, and it’s shaped kind of weird, and the front panel doesn’t look like it would stay put in Real Life, and the mag doesn’t come out for awhile, and I don’t know whether it’s full of icky seaming and and and wait. WAIT. I am a fucking designer. A crappy wannabe designer, perhaps, but was I not already dissecting this sweater, trying to figure out the construction and what the hell the big collar was connected to and… I don’t even need a pattern. I can make this right now. It’s actually a really simple sweater, just with angled front panels and a collar that’s attached to the back front panel then folded over the front front panel.

I can make that as a standard top down raglan cardigan, then pick up stitches at the neck and do a sort of asymmetrical (there’s that word again) trapezoid-shaped collar. And I can change the bits I don’t like. I can do one angled front panel and one straight one, because I like the contrast. I can make it more fitted. I can move the pointed bit of the front panel downwards and add a button. I can lengthen the sleeves and bell them a bit.

And best of all, since I am blatantly ripping off someone else’s pattern, I will feel no obligation to write up a pattern for this thing, since it ain’t my design. Yea!


What do you think, O Temperamental Pile of Silky Wool? Is that what you want to become?

I don’t know about NaKniSweMo. Now there are THREE sweaters that want to be knit (not to mention my still-neglected Fifi), and I am no good at project monogamy. We’ll see, I guess. November isn’t November without a good healthy dose of masochism!

Mad Sweater Science, Part I

I am a bad blogger. I haven’t been updating often, I’ve been flaking on replying to comments, and also my head is all over the internets with a monster on it. That last bit has nothing to do with being a bad blogger, I just wanted to bring it up. Brainmonster got linked all over the fucking place and it’s freaking me out. I guess more hits are a good thing, and more Brainmonsters are definitely a good thing, but I was all squishy and comfortable with semi-obscurity. Oh well. I’m sure nobody clicked through to the blog anyway.

I am a bad, bad blogger. I will try to rectify that.

This is a bad, bad sweater. I will definitely rectify that. BY FROGGING IT. BWAHAHAHAHAHAAAA! SUCK ON THAT, SWEATER OF HATE. And yes, it’s going to become this:


Now, I skimmed that pattern and complained about it. Blah blah no waist shaping, but you folks offered some perfectly logical explanations for why that might be. Maybe negative ease would take care of it. Maybe the box stitch pattern stretched more than the stockinette. Maybe bits of it were knit on smaller needles. Maybe the shaping wasn’t immediately obvious in a quick skim of the pattern.

So I read through the pattern more carefully, and as it turns out, I was wrong to complain about it the way I did. Yup, all wrong. I should have complained much, much more. I should have written a novel about how this pattern is a blight on nature and on books called Fitted Knits. There should have been cursing and lots of it.

There is no concealed shaping. There are no smaller needles. There is no negative ease.

THE SMALLEST SIZE IS 34.5″. That’s actual size, not “to fit a 34.5″ bust”. That’s 34.5″ all the way around. 34.5″ at the waist. I am not a tiny girl. Maybe slightly on the small side of average. And the smallest size would be a potato sack on me. This pattern wants me to spend hours and hours knitting a potato sack. This is so wrong. SO WRONG.

So it’s pattern-rewriting time, and just when I had sworn off thinking, too.


First there’s the matter of waist shaping, of course. This one’s easy. I’m stealing the shaping I used in Maddy, because it fit me so perfectly. I had to rework all the stitch counts anyway since I’ll be using worsted yarn instead of bulky, so I just went all the way and ignored the pattern’s numbers completely. I’m shooting for a 32″ bust and 27″ waist. Negative ease, yea! Then rapid increases to a 37″ hip.

Can I rant? I’m going to rant. What the hell is wrong with my demented body that I have to design a sweater with a 27″ waist and 37″ hip to fit it properly?! How is that even possible? Did someone slice off my bottom half and replace it with someone else’s? I think I would have noticed if that had happened, but it seems the only reasonable explanation.

Okay. So. The next issue is this:


It seems like a sketchy idea to put a textured panel at exactly the fattest point on one’s arms (and by “one’s arms” I mean “MY out-of-shape, slightly flabby arms”). It’s not a problem on the model because a) she probably weighs 97 pounds and b) her sweater is clothes-pinned and photoshopped into impossible dimensions anyway. But is it a problem on a Real Person?

I looked up some finished ones on Ravelry. And, surprisingly, none of them seem to cause any Phantom Arm Fat. So the fat panel stays. Congrats, you wretched pattern, there’s one thing that you maybe didn’t get wrong.

Issue #3: The buttony bits at the bottom. It took forever to figure out how they are even constructed, thanks to the useless pattern that doesn’t show a picture of that section. Ravelry to the rescue again, and I also learned that there is often a GIANT GAPING HOLE between the beginning of the side slit and the first button.

Hmm, I thought, how can I rewrite that bit so that there’s no hole? And then I thought some more. Thinking is always dangerous. But yeah. If I put black buttons there, they’d barely be visible, so it would be a whole bunch of effort for nothing. And if I put red buttons there, they would act as signposts to the widest part of my body. “Hey look everyone! Giant hips! Right here! Just follow the handy red buttons!” Hrm.

So that whole section is going to turn into some simple, non-buttoned side slits, surrounded by a triangular section of seed stitch like in the pattern.

Is that all? That might be all. Oh, and I’m taking out the slit at the top. I like it, but it ain’t practical. Imagine that, something about this pattern not being practical. The shock! The horror!

So I’m ready to go, except that I haven’t frogged the bad sweater yet. I can’t quite do it. I’m going to remake it later with a lighter weight yarn and some mods, so someday there will be a non-hateful version and I really need to frog the hateful one. I just have to get good and mad at it first. Maybe I’ll try it on again; that should do it.

Stay tuned for Part II of Mad Sweater Science, when I’ll deconstruct a perfectly good pattern and rewrite it for absolutely no legitimate reason. Yay!

FO: Brainmonster

Aww yeah.


It should have been up earlier this week, but I have a real excuse this time, which is that I’ve been sick. Okay, we all know that I’m sick, but this time I mean in the medical sense. But hey, not even a whole week late, go me!

It’s been re-christened “brainmonster” because “monster hat” is just not a name. There is a story to this name, but it’s so dreadfully boring that I refuse to tell it.


Pattern: Brainmonster
Yarn: KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Amber Heather, 1 skein; Patons Classic Wool in Winter White, much much less than 1 skein
Needles: US 7

Oy. The long tale of the monster hat, where do I begin? Something like a year ago, I saw this hat on a LiveJournal community. Not this hat, but a hat with teeth and eyes and earflaps. I had to have one. But there was no pattern! No problem, said I, I’ll just make one up. So I did. The one I saw had knitted eyes instead of my googlies, and the teeth were a bit different I think, but I can’t take any credit for the idea; I stuck pretty close to the one I saw.

I had no intention of writing up a pattern, since it wasn’t really my concept, but I posted my finished hat on LJ and people went nuts over it, and I started to think I may as well write it up. People wanted to make it, so I may as well save them the trouble of figuring out a pattern when I had a perfectly good one in my head.

Except I didn’t know how to write a pattern then, so I didn’t. By the time I came back to it, months later, I totally couldn’t remember what I had did. And so I made Brainmonster II and this time wrote everything the fuck down. Hooray! We have pattern!


I actually figured out how to make stockinette teeth that don’t curl. (Answer: slip stitch edging and centered double decreases.) And the earflaps are muuuuch nicer than they were on the first version. I think this is a pretty solid monstery hatty pattern.

When I took the googly eyes out of their package, I saw this:


Okay, I understand why there are warning labels on everything. I do. But you’re really supposed to keep giant googly eyes out of the reach of children? Who is going to use giant googly eyes besides children and moderately insane adults who make monster hats? Giant googly eyes are for children! They belong in the reach of children! Perhaps the warning is there because they’re coated with lead paint, like all children’s toys (apparently).

Now here’s the other reason I put off posting the pattern. Yeah, I was sick, but not so sick that I couldn’t finish the hat, and photograph the hat, and write up most of the pattern. But I needed some action shots of the hat. Oh, hell.

Sweaters are easy, I just chop my head off. Hats require visible heads. I DO NOT PHOTOGRAPH WELL. And when I say that, I don’t mean “ugh, I’m not very photogenic”. What I mean is “I am so completely un-photogenic that any picture of me resembles a retarded monkey, will scare children, will also scare adults, will also scare me and prompt me to walk around with a paper bag over my head for several weeks”. Which is actually unnecessary because I look perfectly normal in person. It’s just photos. Fucking evil photos from my fucking evil camera that won’t be satisfied with simple phantom backfat but has to ruin my face too.

I’m not bitter.

I sucked it up and took two separate photoshoots, and was rewarded with a whole bunch of retarded monkey pictures, and posted a couple of the least horrifying ones with the pattern, because I’ve gotta post something. But ugh. I need to find other people to model my knits, I think.

And because I love my readers, you all deserve to see me look like a fool, so here is the obligatory “OH MY GOD IT’S EATING MY HEAD” shot. (Which is not on the pattern page, for what I hope are obvious reasons.)


Hee hee hee.

Okay, that’s quite enough of that. Go forth and make monster hats! You know you want brain-eating creatures on your head.

The Dumb

I have, once again, run out of mindless knitting.

There was the Knotted Openwork Scarf, but it’s done. And I’m too lazy to photograph it and make its FO post. Photographing scarves is hard. That should be said in a “math is hard” talking Barbie type voice. Except math isn’t hard. I heart math. But photographing scarves is hard, because they’re all long and skinny and don’t suit a 4:3 aspect ratio. Also, lazy. Lazy lazy lazy. I have the dumb, people, I HAVE THE DUMB. Listen to the cat macro, for it is wise.

And then there was this.


So there was this time, back in university, when I was sitting in a really boring lecture. The kind where the professor reads the textbook to you in broken English and you pour coffee down your throat and desperately try to stay awake, long ago having given up on actually learning anything. And I was doodling, instead of taking notes. I was doodling a word in giant bubble letters. The word was this:


And so the guy sitting behind me peeks at my notebook, cracks up, taps me on the shoulder and says “can I borrow your notes?” Snerk.

The point to this non-story is that I am the type of person who will doodle BULLSHIT when I should be learning things, and will doodle MONSTER HAT when I should be knitting things, and will even draw pictures of monster hats when I already have a finished monster hat to work from and have absolutely no reason to sketch one out.

But I did knit the main head bit of Monster Hat II. Because it was mindless. I even wrote down the way I did the decreases. I even finished it while slightly drunk. I suspect I’ll lose any badass-drunken-knitting cred by mentioning that I was slightly drunk from sparkling wine. Oh, shush. It’s yummy.

Now it’s time to figure out how to knit teeth that don’t curl (no stockinette!) and don’t look like congealed ass (no garter stitch!). Noooo. Can’t brain. Dumb. So on to other things.

My library finally got Fitted Knits in and I picked up my on-hold copy today. I borrowed it to make the ubiquitous Back to School Vest. It looks like a lovely mindless knit, except that I haven’t figured out what yarn I want to use. Yarn angst! But the book is full of other yummy patterns, and the textured tunic caught my eye.


I thought about the naughty Fake-astanje Cardigan. I thought about how much I loathe it. Wouldn’t it be satisfying to frog the bastard (AGAIN) and attempt to make it into something cuter (AGAIN)? A quick photoshopping later…


Hmm. I don’t know. It might work, it might not, it’s hard to tell.

I’d have to rewrite the pattern a bit. Not only because it’s written for thicker yarn, but because, if I’m reading the pattern and schematic correctly, there is no waist shaping. Whaaaat? Okay, what kind of trickery did they pull on the sweater in the picture? If you turned that model around, would there be seventeen clothespins yanking the sweater into a fake fake fakey fake super-fitted shape? I think there would be!

Are you kidding me, pattern? You have the dumb, pattern. Oh god. The dumb is contagious. The pattern caught the dumb from me. If you’re reading this, you might catch the dumb from me too. Run away! Run away from the dumb!