Thursday, March 01, 2007

Tomten Troubles

I had hoped for my first post here to proudly show my first EZ FO. Instead, I'm here to cry on some shoulders.
This was to be my first Tomten. I was planning to make a pair for my twin 2 1/2 year-old sons. One was going to be done as above - main color light green, contrast border in light blue. The other would be the opposite. I had three hanks of KnitPicks Sierra in Lettuce leftover from a sweater I made a year ago. So I ordered a hank on Sierra in Pool. 4 hanks total for the first Tomten.

So from the get-go, I was miscalculating my yarn requirements. EZ says for a 2 year-old Tomten to use 4 skeins of bulky wool. Of course she doesn't indicate yardage, or even ounces. I could only surmise that she meant 4 oz. per skein, since that seems in other places to be her standard skein reference. But a hank of Sierra is only 3.5 oz, meaning I was starting with a total of 2 ounces less than what EZ probably used.

Naively, I cast on. I knit and knit and knit. Inspired by this tomten and this one, I decided to work a vertical stripe along the front of the jacket (I also did a horizontal stripe for a bottom border). Yeah, I now realize that both Mandy and Spiderwoman did what EZ herself recommends - picked up sts from the edge and knit longwise all the way around. Theirs look totally lovely. I, instead, worked the blue for a few stitches at the beginning and ending of each row. In addition to being a real mess of yarn (esp. compared to the elegant way suggested by EZ), it looks wonky. I don't think I did a very good job. And, even though I'm nearly done (with only an arm and 2/3 of an arm left), I began to wonder if I really needed to frog and start again in order for the border to look right.

But the worst was yet to come. Last week, I realized that the Tomten was eating through my yarn at a quicker-than-expected pace; I ran out of the blue. So I ordered some more - 3 hanks blue, 1 hank green. I don't know why on earth I didn't order more than that. I guess I was still thinking that in the end it would all even out and I would only use 4 hanks per jacket. (At that point, I thought I still had a hank of the green left, when I was actually already on my last hank.)

This morning, I realized I HAD to order more yarn. This jacket was beginning to look like it was going to use a total of 7 hanks. So I got online to order some more. Guess what? KnitPicks is discontinuing Sierra. Guess what else? They've already sold out of the two colors I was using. [So THAT'S why the yarn cost so much less last week than I had paid in the past]. When I ordered it last week, there was no indication that they would no longer be carrying it. I certainly would've bought more. This has bummed me out and preoccupied me more than is probably reasonable.

It turns out that, though I got gauge in my swatch, I apparently loosened up some while knitting the actual jacket and instead of getting 4 st/inch, I'm now getting more like 3.75. Also, the jacket hangs to my boys' knees. I knew it was turning out big, but I was okay with that b/c I thought at least they could use them for a few seasons.

So it looks like I'm going to have to completely frog this thing - to do the contrast border in a nicer-looking way, to scale the size down, and to scavenge yarn for a second tomten. There still won't be enough, though, to make two tomtens (and I still don't know, with a smaller version, how much Sierra to expect the thing to take). Megan - a total angel - has offered me 2 or 3 hanks of the blue (she wasn't sure how much she had when she emailed me). Yahoo! I'm still looking for 2 or 3 of the lettuce green (anyone out there got any to sell or trade?). Meanwhile, I'm eyeing the sweater I made for My Old Man and wondering if I should unravel it and steal from it. It was my first sweater, and I've never been completely happy with it.

So a couple of questions (and an apology for such a lengthy post!): For those of you who have made a Tomten for a 2-4 year old, how much yarn did you use? And secondly, any tips on frogging once ends have been woven in? For the first time ever, I decided to weave in the ends as I went. Figures, eh?


  • It's amazing how timely your post is. I was making a tomten for my daughter (who is almost 2) and using Cascade Cotton Rich, which is 80 yards per skein. TEN SKEINS IS NOT ENOUGH. I don't want to buy more yarn, so after the first sleeve, I frogged the thing and am now making "Swing Thing" with it instead. :/ garter stitch really eats up yarn, that's for sure. good luck to you!

    By Blogger Friender, at 7:53 PM  

  • Awww how heartbreaking that you are having so much trouble. How about ripping it out and starting over, since that border will probably always bother you? I'd start a new project and then get back to the tomten after a while. Lovely colors, though!

    By Blogger Liane, at 9:47 PM  

  • hope this doesnt sound mean, but you are LEARNING! this is valuable experience! frog and learn

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:34 AM  

  • What about adding another color and only using it as an accent? I bet orange or yellow would look smashing with the colors you already have going--still very boyish and toddler-like.
    Good luck to you! I hope it works out.

    By Blogger Christine, at 7:01 AM  

  • an extra colour would be nice yes. i am in love with red and light blue together. and a boy can use red as an accent. and be sure as soon as you add red and post it here you will have lots and lots of comments. red is attractive.

    By Blogger knititch, at 7:30 AM  

  • It's not unusual for gauge to change as you learn to relax in you knitting.

    But I also wonder if you washed & dried your swatch as you would the finished jackets? Frequently, garter stitch ends up even bigger in a washed swatch. And since you're knitting for active kids, I'm sure the jackets will see lots of washing.

    EZ knit in wool; blends and non-wool fibers, particularly cotton, don't behave the same; they lack the same spring.

    By Blogger Rebecca Z., at 8:13 AM  

  • I feel your pain but this is a lesson well learned! I would put this yarn away for another project (don't even frog the sweater - if you really want to frog, snip the yarn at the point just before you wove in) and if you really want to make these sweaters, start anew with yarn variety and amounts from these other Tomten veterans. Oy.

    By Blogger diane h, at 11:12 AM  

  • I have often frogged after weaving in ends - I just use a blunt yarn sewing needle to fish the ends out.

    By Blogger Becky Clark, at 11:59 AM  

  • There there, darlin'. I sympathise with your frustration. Good luck with whatever you choose to do. I love your colors!

    By Blogger Whaledancer, at 6:57 AM  

  • Thank you to all of you for your excellent feedback. I received the blue yarn from Megan on Monday and am going to frog an old sweater that has the green yarn in it, so I think I'll end up with enough yarn to start from scratch, cast on fewer stitches and make two tomtens in the colors I want. (I considered adding a third color but couldn't find one in the yarn I'm using that was a sort of spring shade, like yellow).

    Thanks for your thoughts and your encouragement!

    By Blogger earthchick, at 4:58 AM  

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