Leaving Cardigan

I’ve finally finished my Leaving Cardigan! I started it way back in April, finished knitting it in June, and then couldn’t find the time until about a month ago to actually do the seaming and weave in the ends. But now it’s done!

This pattern, like all of Anne Hanson’s, is lovely — but it was definitely a learning experience.

  • Lesson 1: “I’ll just knit a sleeve as my gauge swatch” is a cute idea, but when you finish a whole sleeve in fingering-weight yarn and then it doesn’t block out to the right dimensions, it has NOT saved you any time. Just knit the damned 4″x4″ swatch like you’re supposed to.
  • Lesson 2: Zero ease is a bad idea when knitting a cardigan that’s going to button all the way down the front. This basically fits, but you can see it straining at the buttons over my bust, and I really should resign myself to knitting at least one size up from my actual bust measurements from now on.
  • Lesson 3: Due to my long waist, I should always always always add at least an inch or two of length to a sweater’s body. This looks fine, but it’s supposed to hang longer and I think it would  be more flattering if it actually did so.

I’m not entirely to blame for Lessons 2 and 3 — these are things I already knew, but I thought that the mythical “growing” properties of superwash yarn would make up for both the length and width problems. Unfortunately, this didn’t grow nearly as much in the blocking stage as my Leitmotif Cardigan did.

This is still pretty awesome, though. The yarn is Madelinetosh Pashmina, and after knitting two sweaters in Madelinetosh yarns I can say that I am officially an addict. Their yarns are both lovely and durable, and their dye jobs are incredible.

And have you checked out the sleeves on this thing??

I seriously considered just knitting the sleeves with the rib going all the way down to the bottom and omitting the lace pattern on the forearms because I thought it was a little busy, but I’m very happy that I decided to follow the pattern. It’s an amazing detail that really sets this apart from other sweaters.

The only real problem here is that this was meant to be a light-gray sweater — the colorway, believe it or not, is called “composition-book gray” — but as you can see, it’s entirely purple. I fell in love with its unexpected non-grayness when it arrived in the mail, but my wardrobe still needs a light-gray sweater. So at some point in the near future I’ll be starting yet another sweater!

Mission Accomplished

Yep – that’s me with Michelle aka Fickleknitter, showing off my fresh-off-the-blocking-board shawl from October’s Fickle-Zen KAL. Try not to get too excited, but I finished and blocked this thing mere hours before last week’s Southern California Handweaver’s Guild Weaving and Fiber Festival, with the express purpose of stalking Michelle and getting this photo. Michelle was lovely in person, and my shawl got tons of compliments at the festival — and everyone was delighted to learn that the designer was local and was vending at the festival.

I wasn’t able to do a proper photoshoot of the shawl until this afternoon, though:

The yarn, to remind you, is Zen Yarn Garden‘s Serenity Lace II. It’s lovely and soft, and the dye job is gorgeous. (The colorway is “raspberry.”) Both the pattern and this colorway are exclusive to the KAL for now, but I’m guessing they’ll become publicly available eventually.

The thing I like best about this pattern is its wide and shallow shape — it’s a canny way to get a useable shawl out of a single skein of yarn, because the width makes it very wrappable.

The stitch patterns of the shawl are probably best seen in this somewhat crappy blocking photo:

Knitting this was quick and fun, with a nice result. And unlike last year, I showed some serious restraint at the fiber festival. These two lovely skeins of locally-ranched alpaca yarn are the only things that came home with me:

The ladies of Alpenglow Yarn were lovely to talk to, and I highly recommend their yarn and fiber if you’d like to support a small farm with natural dying methods. (This, of course, is undyed yarn — but their naturally-dyed stuff was beautiful as well.)

And speaking of small farms, I don’t think I’ve shown you my current spinning project:

This is Jacobs wool that I received in a Ravelry swap about a year ago. It’s a lovely color — the wool is sort of heathered gray and black, and it’s been dyed blue on top of that. My plan once I finish plying this is to finally start spinning up some of that Jacobs fleece that I got from my friends’ farm last summer, and make something striped gray and blue. I’ve been hesitating about using it just because there’s so much of it, and I keep thinking “maybe I should save it for when I get a wheel and can spin it all and make a sweater,” but that day is a long way off, so I really should just start using it now. Updates forthcoming!

What I’m Knitting Now

Now that the parade of summer projects is over, it’s time to show you what I’m actually working on at the moment. You may recognize this yarn as the sport-weight alpaca that I got from Twist: Yarns of Intrigue at Vogue Knitting LA just a few weeks ago — I just couldn’t keep my hands off it! The pattern is Anne Hanson’s Monkey Bread Scarf: simple, big, luscious cables that I thought would be the perfect snuggly thing for this yarn. And no, the whiskey bottle in this shot is not a coincidence — this colorway definitely reminds me of whiskey. But we do keep our liquor bottles on our kitchen table, and in the new apartment the kitchen is one of the best places to do knit-photography. Unfortunately our new porch is shaded all day long, so opening the windows and turning the lights on in the kitchen yields better light than outside in most cases.

What you see here is what I’m doing with the lovely hand-dyed yarn that my friend Heather sent me from her home in Bainbridge Island. I’m knitting it into linen-stitch pillow-covers for two currently-hideous pillows in our living room. There’s no pattern here — I just knit a swatch in linen stitch and measured the pillows and cast on accordingly. I figure I have enough yarn to do the front of each pillow in linen stitch like this, and their backs will be in plain garter stitch in some leftover blue yarn that I have in my stash. There will definitely be before-and-after pictures at some point! I just love the way that the colors of this yarn are mixed up by the linen stitch.

And last but not least, I’ve been participating in a mystery knit-along that is a collaboration between Fickleknitter Designs and Zen Yarn Garden. It’s my first mystery KAL, and it’s been fun! The yarn is just gorgeous; it’s ZYG’s Serenity Lace II, a heavy laceweight that is 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. It’s beautifully soft, and with a composition like that I expect it to be very durable. I actually just finished knitting this last night after motoring along as fast as I could for the past few days, because I plan to block it tonight and wear it to the Southern California Handweaver’s Guild Fiber Festival on Sunday where… wait for it… Michelle aka Fickleknitter will be appearing! So my plan is, of course, to stalk her and make her pose for a picture with me and my finished shawl. I explained to Pat that this is considered knit-blogging gold, and he told me that I live in a very strange world.