Miracle

So, I’m pretty sure that I performed a miracle the other day. I didn’t turn water into wine or anything that awesome, more like a light miracle. I found buttons for a sweater in under 10 minutes at the craft store.


I know. I’ll give you a few minutes to pick yourself up off the floor. It’s true. Here I am sheepishly entering the craft store sweater in-hand only 30 minutes before closing. Oh, and it was raining like crazy, contributing to the stress of the moment.

I was fully prepared to beg and plead with the staff for just-five-more-minutes to find the perfect buttons for this darling little Gramps Cardigan I knit for Bob’s new baby nephew. As it turns out the perfect buttons found me almost the minute I walked into the button aisle. If you have ever tried to buy buttons for a sweater, you know the painstaking process it can be… Too blue. Not blue enough. Too small for the button hole. Too big for the button hole. Perhaps worst of all, exactly perfect, but the store only has 3 buttons and I need 7. We’ve all been there.


Not this time. These weren’t even in the actual button aisle. They were on the end cap. I looked at them and though “wow, that looks like it might be close” but almost immediately dismissed them as too good to be true. Surely, they must be flawed in some way. I’ll find out when I hold them to the sweater that they’re actually chartreuse and it was a trick of the light making them look blue. They were perfect.


This darling pattern by Kate Oats knit up in no time at all. I made the smallest size (6 mo.) and felt like the second I cast on, I was casting off again.

The patten calls for dk weight yarn which makes adorably plump cables. I used some yarn that’s been in the stash for ages. I originally bought this Cottonwood by FibraNatura to make a summer shrug but never got around to making it and just lost passion for the pattern. When I was stash diving to look for something to make this baby sweater with, this jumped out. It’s 100% organic cotton and incredibly soft. It’s still cotton though so working the cables did make my hands sore because the cotton just doesn’t have the same stretch and give as animal fibers. For a small project, totally worth it.


I was rewarded for my hard work with this picture. Looks like it will be keeping him warm for the rest of the winter. (Possibly he is the real miracle part of this story… but my trip to the button store is an easy second.)

Edie spring t-shit sweater

Hi! Happy New Year!

I know we’re a few days in already but I’ve been slow to start this year. Something about the first just didn’t feel like New Years. After a quite few days that “new beginnings” feeling is starting to sink in and I feel like trying to clean house (metaphorically!)

I spent a day doing my traditional new years stash toss. Going through what I have to make sure nothing crawly has gotten to it in the last year, but also to remember and re-feel everything.

I also updated my Ravelry account with some things I’ve been lax in getting posted. 2015 wasn’t the most productive knitting or blogging year for me, but I did finish a few things I have yet to show you.

Edie

That is the Edie sweater by Michele Wang. Yarn recommended was the 100% wool Brooklyn Tweed LOFT. I’m sure that would make a great layering piece for fall and winter, but I wanted a summer tee. I substituted Rowan Panama for the LOFT.  Panama is 12% linen, 33% cotton, and 55% viscose. Perfect for spring!

I started knitting this because I was asked to teach the pattern as a class. As it turned out, not enough people signed up for the class so it didn’t end up happening. After that I put the project away for a long time. I found it this spring and thought it would be a good wardrobe addition so I set to work. Mostly I knit for the process and don’t generally care when things get finished. (If you’ve read any of this blog and can feel you rolling your eyes and signing “I know!”) This time though, I wanted the sweater.

The yarn is so comfy to wear. It feels nice and cool and soft. It’s not so comfy to knit with. Cotton and linen doing have the spriong that wool does and the lack of give is just murder on my hands. Especially on those cable rows.

Edie

The end result was totally worth it though. The viscose in the yarn is a bit shiny. The cotton and linen are not shiny at all so the knit fabric has a subtle depth of color.

I pretty much followed the pattern. My gauge with the Panema was a bit bigger than the pattern gauge. It worked out pretty easily that I could just follow directions for the size smaller and end up with the right size for me. The only “alteration” i made was to make the waist 3 inches longer. since I’m not wearing this as a layering piece I didn’t want it cropped.

Edie

I did cast on a New Year’s day project (I wasn’t that off my game.) It’s Fractal Danger by Martina Behm. I have the first 10 rows done!

Market Jacket just in time for spring

The yarn store I used to work at hosts a monthly knit-a-long. Back in 2013, the January KAL was the Market Jacket by Tanis Gray from the book November Knits. The book has several sweaters that I plan to make eventually, including this one and this one.

I started the KAL as a way of hanging out with the knitters, but once the month ended I didn’t do much work on the sweater because I had other things going and it wasn’t a “priority” project. You’re thinking… Do you have an excuse for why every project takes you two years to finish?… The answer is yes, yes I do.

Market Jacket

 

Unfortunately crappy indoor light is all I have for you. This is a top-down raglan style sweater. There are cable panels down each front, each sleeve, and one down the back. Otherwise the sweater is stockinette with garter stitch borders. It’s a nice combination of mostly-mindless with some fun when you get to the cable panels.

Market Jacket

 

 

That sort of shows the detail of the cable panels. It’s hard to take a picture of a sweater you are wearing. Inside the cable panel is a bit of lace, just to make it that much more interesting.

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That’s not intended to be a picture of my breast… just another good shot of the cable/lace. The color of the yarn is just dark enough to make taking photos a pain. In real life the detail is actually quite easy to see. The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in colorway Waistcoat.

Market Jacket

 

The only modification I made to the patter was to make the body of the sweater longer by 3 inches and to make the sleeves full length. To make the sleeves longer I continued the decrease row as established until the sleeves were wrist-length then I added the cuff. Because the torso was longer I had to add a few more button holes, keeping the same pattern as established to add the buttonholes required by the project.

Market Jacket

 

If I made this again, the only other thing I would change would be not to use YOs to make the raglan increases. I think they are pretty, but they make for not very stable shoulders. By the end of the day my sleeves have grown about 3 more inches in length and I have to shove them up behind my elbows. I think using a stronger increase, like a M1, would help combat the droop. There’s just too much stretch with a YO.

Market Jacket

 

This, plus the Wildflower Cardigan I finished in February make two new sweaters for the year so far. Of course, now it’s too warm for a wool sweater, so they’ll both have to get put away, nearly unworn, until next season. My train knitting right now is a lovely cotton, rayon, linen summer tee. Given my trend, I’ll probably get it finished just as summer is ending…

Wildflower Cardigan off the needs and blocked!

I really think my blogging frequency would improve substantially if I had a personal photographer. Sweater pictures are just impossible on your own. You either get crappy mirror selfies like so:

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Or, if you go outside to try to get some good light, you get the weird-angle mostly-boob shots like so:

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Color accurate, but not exactly great for showing off the new sweater. Putting the sweater on a hanger makes it look like a shapeless bag. I need to either get a dress form or blackmail a photographer to do my bidding…

wildflower

 

My current solution is to pack my sweaters around until I visit a friend I can beg to take some pictures. Meet the completed Wildflower Cardigan by Alana Dakos. The pattern is available individually through Ravelry, but it’s also part of the book Costal Knits which is full of gorgeous patterns. This is the first sweater from the book I have knit, but I could see myself wearing all of them!

Wildflower

I think the pockets are so darling! They’re not going to be much use for actually storing anything, but I love the little flower. The detail along the hem is pretty sweet also. It does curl the tiniest bit though, so if you are the type of person who is bothered by things like that, think twice. Watching it curl while I was knitting, I was worried it would be really bad, but it’s just the slight curl you see in the corner of that photo.

Wildflower

The yarn I used is Cascade 220 Superwash Sport and the color is Wisteria. I bought 12 skeins, but only ended up using a tiny tiny bit of the 9th. Like, all I needed from the 9th skein was a few yards to finish the side seams. I was pretty loose with my ends because I knew I had extra, so if I had been more conservative, I’m sure I could have squeaked it out with just 8 skeins.

Wildflower

The gauge listed for this pattern is very tight for a sport weight yarn (28 stitches to 4 inches.) To get that gauge, my fabric would have been bullet proof. I liked the fabric I got with size 5 needles, so I basically followed the instructions for the 36″ bust knowing that because my gauge was bigger I would end up with about a 40″ bust. It came out pretty much perfect.

When I showed the sweater to Bob he said: “You would think that it would look frumpy, but it doesn’t.” I think that’s a good note to end the post on.

Hibernate

A ver long time ago I bought enough Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky to make the Rosamund’s Cardigan from the Fall 2009 Interweave Knits. I couldn’t get gauge. Even though the pattern calls for chunky yarn, it’s knit at more of a aran gauge, and my fabric was practically bullet proof. So the yarn went back in the stash to wait.

I decided I really did want a sweater/jacket from this lovely rustic wool so I went to Ravelry to hunt up a pattern. I settled on Hibernate by Christina Harris. It’s certainly not the most popular pattern on Ravelry (there are only 4 projects) but it had exactly what I wanted. Oversized, styled more like a jacket than a sweater, and in the proper gauge.


At least I thought it was the proper gauge. I was a very irresponsible knitter and did not knit my swatch. The yarn relaxed quite a bit width wise, so my sweater that was supposed to have 4″ of positive ease ended up with 8″ which turned it from cutely “oversized” to “sack.” It’s being modeled by my mother in these pictures, and it lives with her now.
I cut it extremely close on yardage. I knew it would be close and figured I would do the sleeves last and make them 3/4 if I had to (how I thought I would live with a jacket with 3/4 sleeves I don’t know…) Luckily, I had just enough to make the sleeves full so crisis averted. This is how much yarn was left over.
The Rowan yarn is extremely “rustic” there is no way it could be warn next to the skin, which is why I think it’s great for this pattern. It has lots of little bits of vegetable matter that was spun into the yarn and, while I didn’t notice while I was knitting with it, the yarn is filthy. I washed it after I was done in my laundry machine (didn’t use the machine, just filled it up with water and let the sweater soak) and the water was GROSS after the 30 minute soak. See.
The pattern has a few small typos, but overall was very easy to follow and I would recommend it for anyone who already has a little sweater experience under their belt. It’s not quite as comprehensive as an absolute sweater beginner might need, but if you were adventurous and willing to look up a technique or two it’d be doable as a first sweater.
I love the pockets. This particular construction was extremely easy and it would be a fun way to work in a pop of color, because you could do the pocket lining in a fun contrast color. I chose to do mine in some similarly colored Cascade 220 because that was the best option I could find in my stash, but if you planned ahead you could have some fun with it.
I know I say this about every project lately, but despite what my Ravelry account will tell you, this was actually an extremely quick knit. The problem was I just kept getting distracted. I knit big chunks of this in single sessions, but put it on hold over and over. This easily could have been done in two weeks with focus. I’m just really short on focus lately.

February Baby

As I mentioned in my last post, there were a few new babies born to my coworkers this summer. In addition to the little Harvest I knit for Megan’s baby, I also knit a little sweater for Jason’s brand new baby girl. Baby girls are such a delight to knit for because all of adorable details you can choose from–lace patterns, pico edges, bows, there’s just so much. I decided on the classic Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February) by Elizabeth Zimmerman. The pattern is from The Knitters Almanac and is only about a paragraph long.

Zimmerman seems to be a lover-her or hate-her figure in the knitting world for her casual writing style and her “recipe” style instructions. Her patters do assume that you’re bringing a lot of knitting knowledge to the table and she doesn’t spare many words for the “how”–her patterns are all about the “what.”


Unfortunately, this was the only picture I remembered to snap just before I gave it to the dad-to-be. It’s on my messy desk under fluorescent lights. Lots of people were saying that using the recommended fingering weight yarn resulted in a newborn sized sweater. I wanted a 6mo size so I followed the same instructions but bumped up to a DK weight yarn. I used Socks That Rock Heavyweight. Color is unique. It was a mill end skein. The colors range from a medium gray to a magenta. I love the way it knit up. Girly without being overpoweringly pink.
I did not add any buttons. I think open cardis look adorable on babies over a onesie, no potential choking hazard if they fall off, and (lets be honest) I hate sewing them on in the first place.

Baby Harvest

This summer we had two babies due around the office. Luckily I have an hour long commute each way on the train, so I was able to whip up a little sweater for each of them. The first was for a baby boy due at the end of May. Can I just say, there are way fewer adorable knitting options for baby boys. You’re basically stuck with either super plain, or heavily cabled. I decided to go the plain route and chose Harvest by tincanknits. I chose the 6-12 month size hoping it would be big enough to fit when winter rolled around.


I used some old Knit Picks Swish left over from a different sweater project. Obviously machine washable is a must for baby things. The colorway is called Jade. It only took 2.5 skeins to nock this little guy out. A very fast and gratifying knit. The pattern is extremely well written for a free pattern. I would absolutely recommend it. It would also be a great first sweater pattern for someone hesitant to jump into the garment world. It’s top down knit in the round so you can try it on as you go. Shaping is minimal and you end up with a classic goes-with-everything cardigan.

Shapely

I know that when I focus I can knit up a sweater in 3 to 4 weeks depending on how complicated it is. I don’t know why then I always end up spending at least 6 months to make one. I’m just not good with project monogamy. I know I would have more things to wear if I could focus on one project at a time, but I am fickle. (So maybe I do know why it takes me so long to finish things…) Here is my latests 6-month sweater.


That is Shapely Boyfriend by Stefanie Japel from the 2011 Deep Fall issue of knitty.  I taught a seamless sweater class on it at For Yarns Sake last spring and worked through it in advance of the class. The class focused on the shaping of the body, so I didn’t bother to finish the sleeves before the class. Once the class was over it went into hibernation–hence the 6 months to finish.
The only alteration I made to the pattern was to shorten it. As designed, it’s a below-the-bum sweater but I tend not to like that look unless it’s a looser coat-style. For something I’m going to wear all day as part of an outfit it prefer waist-length styles. Because I shortened the cardigan I made fewer button holes than called for. Other than that, I knit this exactly to pattern.
The yarn I used is Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Teal Feathers. I did not behave like a good knitter and alternate skeins. If I were teaching I would tell all my students that the must alternate skeins, but in my own personal knitting, I take risks. Luckily my skeins were very well matched and I didn’t end up with any striping. I used just under 5 skeins, but if I had made it as long as recommended I would have needed to break into a 6th.
The yarn is super soft and I love that I can just throw it in the washing machine and dryer. The magic of superwash. I love it. The buttons were cheap ones I got a Jo-Anns, but they work really well with the sweater I think. I finished back in August, so it didn’t get a lot of wear right off the needles. This past winter it saw a lot of wear though. It’s experienced some mild pilling, but nothing surprising for a 100% merino yarn, and nothing my sweater stone can’t easily take care of.
My current knitting continues at a snails pace, but I still have a backlog of projects from last year that I can show you.

Wildflower Cardigan

I love the monthly knit-a-long we do at the shop. The ladies are great, and the projects are always something I wanted to make anyway. That being said, the fact that they move on to a new project every month has left me with quite a few knit-a-long victims. Projects that I started, and worked on dutifully for the month, only to drop like a sack of potatoes when the next month’s project came along.

Meet one such victim.

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That is a completed back, completed sleeve, and partial sleeve of Alana Dakos’s Wildflower Cardigan from Coastal Knits.
It’s a very lovely sweater, but it’s 99% stockinette and done in sport weight yarn. It’s boring. I need to line up some really exciting movies to watch while I work on it. About the only “fun” part is the scallop at the bottom of all the pieces.
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It only takes four rows though, then it’s back to the stockinette. There will be a few cables and bobbles when I get to the pockets on the front, but they will also be over quickly.
I pick this up for a few rows now and again, but it’s seriously slow progress now that the knit a long is over and there’s no incentive to show progress each weak.

Hibernate

Just because I’ve been working obsessively on my Swallowtail Shawl, doesn’t mean I don’t have other WIPs waiting in the wings for me to feel like picking them up again.

One of the projects that I would love to get back to (soon) is the Hibernate sweater by Christina Harris that I started in October. I cast this on and feverishly knit to the point where the fronts and back are connected at the underarm then got distracted by… I can’t remember.

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I have had this Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds yarn in my stash for a long time, just waiting for the perfect project to come along. It’s a bulky 100% undyed wool. The color of the yarn is determined by the color of the sheep. The label says this comes from a Black Welsh sheep. I love it.
The yarn has that lovely crisp wool feeling to it. A big difference from the merino Malabrigo I’m using but pleasant in its own wooly way.
I was a little hesitant to buy this pattern since there are only two projects on Ravelry. I have found a few little typos in the pattern, but nothing unusual or difficult to decipher. So far it’s worked perfectly. I’ll give a full review of the pattern if when I finish.