Wednesday, February 9, 2011

WIP: Tree Sweater

Our tree

You may have read about A Knitted Wonderland in the Austin American Statesman on Monday. I found out about it on Facebook in January, but I'm just now getting around to blogging about it.

"A Knitted Wonderland" is a project by Magda Sayeg, who you may know from her Knitta, Please work and/or her installation on Lamar Boulevard. Heather Sutherland of the Knotty Knitters Club is helping organize the event.

The idea is to cover the 99 trees in front of The Blanton Museum of Art with "tree sweaters." Everyone has to use I Love This Yarn in Orange and Turquoise, Red Heart Kids in Pink and Lion Brand Vanna's Choice in Olive, and everyone has to make horizontal stripes.

And I'm working on tree number 34.

We got tree 34

I almost didn't make the meeting for volunteer knitters because I found out about it the night before, and I wasn't able to drive at that point. Fortunately, Katie has a parking permit that allows her to park a few blocks away from the Blanton. At the last minute, she agreed to take me and be part of the project. She even ran to grab a tree for us since she can move a lot faster than I can these days, and there were more knitters than trees. (Also, I finally met Noelle in person after years of talking to her online. I was able to lag behind and talk to her while Katie was in line.)

After getting our assignment, we took pictures with our tree. Unfortunately, both Katie and I had our eyes closed. Then we took some measurements before heading out. Our tree is about seven feet tall.


Here is an early picture of our work. The crochet is Katie's, and mine is the knitting. We had some bumps in the road getting started. At first we were both passing our knitting back and forth. Each of us was going to use a different stitch. (That's why there's the beginning of some basket weave at the bottom of the knitting.) Finally, we decided to sew together four pieces and make a Frankensteiny creation. Katie is more comfortable with crochet, and this way she can crochet and I can knit.

Originally, I was going to make two pieces, and Katie was going to make two pieces. However, Katie got busy once the new semester started, so we got Mom to work on one of the pieces.

My knitting

These are my finished sections of the tree sweater. I got through them pretty quickly. You can see all four colors here.

I'm not sure why these particular colors were chosen. For a while all the yarn was pretty much sold out in Austin. The "I Love This Yarn" was especially hard to find, since it's only sold at Hobby Lobby. Everyone received a skein of the pink when they got their tree assignment, and Mom snagged the Vanna's Choice the next day, so we started with those two colors.

A close up of the cables

The knitters in charge are trying to allow everyone to be creative with their tree while maintaining a cohesive vision. At the meeting there were lots of questions about style. They don't want lots of visual holes, so crochet needs to be half double crochet or smaller. They recommended no needles smaller than US Size 13. Chevrons are ok. Other stitch patterns are ok.

I asked about embellishments like knitted or crocheted flowers or buttons. They said they didn't want too many. Then they kept responding to everyone else's questions by saying "that's better than flowers or buttons." Katie and I would look at each other every time they mentioned it. After all that, I think I need to include one button and one flower. I'll probably put it at the very top of the tree.

The embellishment thing was no big deal to me because I had cables in mind before I left the meeting. When I got home I decided to use the middle cable from the Braided Cable Scarf by Miriam Felton, and flanked it with two simple, symmetrical cables.

FYI - The "cross 2 over 2 right/purl bg" and "cross 2 over 2 left/purl bg" in Miriam Felton's pattern tripped me up. Both refer to knitting the "middle" stitch off the cable needle. Felton is referring to the stitch farthest to left of the cable needle (as you are facing your knitting.) I messaged her directly on Ravelry. This was her response:
"It’s the center stitch of the whole cable, not the center stitch of the ones on the cable needle. Effectively the cable looks like this before you cross it: ||-|| where the - is the purl stitch in the center of the cable and the | are knit stitches. You cross the knit stitches over each other, but the purl will remain in the same place. You just have to move it to the cable needle first so it doesn’t get tangled in the knit stitches."

Katie's portion of the tree sweater

This is Katie's portion. She tried something different for the first few rows, then she settled on half double crochet. She's done some more work since this was taken.

When she first started it was wider than she had calculated, so she decreased rather than unravel everything. Sewing up this tree will cover a lot of sins. Considering that plastic zip ties were mentioned at the meeting (but discouraged), I don't think they'll notice a little fudging on the seams.
I worked on the piece at the very base, so I started wide, and got more narrow to account for the change in circumference. I ended up decreasing too much and had to increase to compensate. So I did the same thing Katie did.

Mom's Section

Mom chose crochet over knitting so it would go faster. She's using single crochet. Here's her piece as of yesterday.

"A Knitted Wonderland" will debut during Explore UT on Saturday, March 5, and it will be up until Saturday, March 19. Go check it out.

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