Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekend Sweater and How to Enjoy a Better Night's Sleep

My definition of a great weekend sweater is one that fits right, feels cozy and looks great on.  It's that sweater you pull on when you are going to a movie, a casual dinner out, or running errands on a cold day and you can wear it over and over again and never get tired of it.  It goes with jeans or can be dressed up with a skirt and boots and always makes you look perfectly put together. And, unlike with shawls, you won't finish knitting it only to discover that it's impossible to find an outfit that it looks good with.  Which is a big plus for someone like me who has drawers full of shawls (that I love) but never seem to look quite right with anything.

But knitting a sweater that fits well and looks good can be a challenge for knitters of all levels. Fortunately there are some easy steps you can follow that will help you knit a sweater that fits every time and I've previously blogged some of my tips in the post Knitting a Sweater and Tips to Achieving a Custom Fit.  Continuing with sweater tips in this post I'm going to focus on a finishing tip that will help elevate your sweaters from something that looks homemade into something that looks handmade and there is a world of difference between the two.  The culprit that can cause a sweater to look "homemade" instead of a swanky and sophisticated handmade sweater are bulky seams and here is my tip for eliminating bulky uneven seams.

Sweater Finishing Tip:  How to Avoid Bulky Seams:

After you have knit the main pieces of your sweater (front, back, and sleeves) but before you begin any finishing work, i.e. adding a collar, neckline, or button band, etc. (unless your pattern or yarn ball band directs you to do otherwise) the main pieces of your sweater should be washed and blocked to desired measurements.  When these pieces have dried completely use a hand held steamer and press along the very edges (approximately 1/4 inch).  Flatten all edges by pressing and steaming with your hand steamer.  I recommend a hand held steamer because irons and other steaming devices generally have a large surface area from which the steam is emitted that can make it difficult to press just along the edges.  You want to avoid steaming beyond the very edge because that will flatten and ruin the loft and texture of your overall fabric.  What you do want to do is flatten the edge (and reduce bulk) which also makes it easier to sew the edges together neatly.    The second part to avoiding bulky seams it to sew the edges together with a thread in a matching color instead of using the yarn used to knit the sweater.  By using thread instead of yarn to sew the edges together you can reduce a significant amount of  bulk from your seams.  

Particulars:  Not a Jersey Girl Sweater designed by Stephanie Steinhaus (Unwind Yarn in Burbank); US 8 circular needles; Ewe Ewe Yarns, LLC (9.5 skeins MC - Indigo no 64 / 1 skein CC - brushed silver no 97);  I have to admit this sweater required a significant amount of modifications by me to fit me the way I wanted the sweater to fit and for that reason I would describe this pattern as "advanced." Briefly, some of my modifications were to change the sleeves from drop to inset and downsized the body to be fitted (versus 4-6 inches positive ease); I knit both the body and the sleeves in the round and eliminated 1 row of cabling in the front.  With the neck I switched to CC and continued the ribbing (instead of knitting a "knit" round) and then I BO in pattern and on the BO row decreased 8 stitches (4 on each side) evenly over the shoulders to bring in the neckline a bit more over the shoulders. I love the yarn as it is very comfortable to wear next to the skin with a wonderful loft and knits into a beautiful garment but because it is great for showing stitch definition it also does show where decreases/increases were made so I suggest that you be extra careful with your shaping to use even and discrete stitches.

Incidentally I knit the scarf that I'm wearing in these pictures and subsequently gave it to Steve who kindly loaned it back to me to wear in these pictures!  It's one of my first blog posts from way back in 2007....A Scarf by Any Other Name.  In the second picture the cowl that I'm wearing was blogged more recently (2013) as Crazy Cowl and Urban Legend.  Both are great accessories that I highly recommend.

How to Enjoy a Better Night's Sleep ~

Who doesn't want to get a better night's sleep? For women as you age it's more important than ever to get your beauty rest.  But aside from that incentive (which is plenty motivating for me all on it's own) sleep is also important to mental alertness and general good health. Those are definitely secondary considerations, although admittedly important. I don't think there is anyone who doesn't already know that consuming certain foods in the evening like caffeine and sugar can keep you awake but there is actually something that you may unwittingly be doing that is even worse and is the cause of you losing both quantity and quality of sleep.

I'm talking about using ebooks with screens that light up to enable reading in the dark. It seems like such a great idea to be able to read in bed without having a light on.  Doesn't it?  And yet.  I've finally recognized that using my kindle was the cause of me losing sleep.  It turns out that when a light shines directly into your eyes it impacts you differently than a light reflected off a paper page. And that's only one of the problems.  The other problem is the temptation to read at all hours of the night. If I wake up in the middle of the night and my kindle is laying next to me I will succumb to the temptation to read instead of patiently waiting to fall back to sleep. And that's how my kindle was causing me to lose hours of sleep each night without me understanding why. It wasn't until I read an article that discussed the negative impact on sleep of a light shining into your eyes that I understood the problem.

Since turning off my kindle and reverting to reading traditional books both my quantity and quality of sleep has dramatically improved.  So if you are an ebook reader who is sleep deprived you might want to try shutting of your electronic devices and see if your beauty rest doesn't improve too.

If you are curious what I am reading these days, the book shown above (Serpent's Kiss by Melissa De La Cruz) is a fun and easy read if you enjoy paranormal and contemporary romance! It is the second book in a series and should be read in order.

Until next time be well, love well and may you have sweet dreams ~ perhaps of knitting your own weekend sweater!