Off the Naughty List

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Once upon a time, I knit most of a sweater. I had some trouble with the sleeves, and I put it down. It languished for years on what I assumed was the naughty list, but a few months ago when I picked it up and looked at my notes, I could find…… nothing wrong. Just the body (complete), one complete and seemingly fine sleeve, and most of another sleeve. All it needed was literally one more row on the last sleeve, and the yoke. (For you non-knitters here from Facebook, a sweater’s “yoke” is the shoulder part that connects the sleeves to the body.)

Stunned, I cast my mind back, and finally recalled that though I had had to re-do one of the sleeves for some reason, I had not, in fact, ragequit the sweater. I’d just stopped because my brother’s wedding was coming up, and I needed to spend 100% of my knitting time on his wedding blanket, a task that ended up taking nearly a year but was totally worth it. (Click through if you haven’t seen that lately; it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve made!)

When I was done with the blanket a year later, this sweater was a thing of the distant past. The sleeve problem loomed in my mind, even though (apparently) it had actually been solved. So I moved on to other projects, and this sweater continued to languish. But this past December, I picked it up again and realized that it really only needed ~10 hours more knitting, and I would have an entire brand new beautiful sweater! Ta da!

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The pattern is Lavandula by Triona Murphy for Twist Collective, and I did make some modifications. I noticed from looking around on Ravelry that one surefire way this thing could turn into a disaster was for the lace pattern to not fully cover one’s boobs & the body ribbing to start halfway up them. Since I have a long torso as well as some, ah, blessings in the boob department, I added two repeats of the lace pattern to what the pattern called for before I began the neck & shoulder shaping. (That’s 4 total repeats of the lace pattern before the shaping, despite the fact that I was in the size range that called for only 2.) In retrospect, I could have cut a couple inches from the ribbing part to avoid ending up with such a very long cardigan, but I don’t think it’s so long as to be weird, and my boobs are fully covered in lace, so MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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This boob-zoom is brought to you not merely by my desire for you to behold my ability to alter a pattern to fit my body, but also these rose buttons, which I think are SO PERFECT for this cardigan. (From Jo-Anne’s!) I did add more buttons more frequently than the pattern called for, to avoid bust-gapping. (There are 8 total buttons, with I think 10 rows between them, and no button at the very bottom.)

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By now you may be noticing the cuffed sleeves. This is because I wet-blocked this sweater, and I forgot that wet-blocking causes superwash yarn to grow. The sleeves were knit bottom-up, though, so I wasn’t able to just unravel them shorter. I tried, believe me, and it was a nightmare and I eventually cut my losses and decided to cuff them.

The yarn is Tosh DK from Madelinetosh in the “Tart” colorway, a gorgeous deep red yarn with a bit of black in it. I bought it from Imagiknit in San Francisco, which is basically Disneyland as far as I’m concerned. The salespeople there insisted on getting down all their skeins of Tart and unfolding them and helping me choose skeins that really matched, that had a similar amount of black in them. Bless them. I did not alternate skeins in this project, and the color is very even. Behold the yoke:

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Here’s one last shot for you, which I insisted on taking because let’s face it; this is not not a sexy librarian sweater:

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Sweater Weather

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I was worried that it would be too hot to photograph this sweater this weekend, what with the record-breaking heat in California, but it rained yesterday (!!) and the heat wave passed sooner than predicted. Today it was in the mid-70s and overcast, which is what we in southern California call “sweater weather.”

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This is the Oana Cardigan by Elena Nodel, and I spent most of this summer knitting it. You know how sometimes a pattern comes along and you’re like “I must knit that RIGHT NOW” and you drop everything and buy the yarn immediately? This project was like that for me, with the added urgency that Anne Hanson was offering it as a kit with any of her yarns as a fundraiser for Elena’s cancer treatments. I love Anne’s yarns, I love long, swingy cardigans, and I hate cancer, so this seemed like a perfect storm.

The yarn I chose was Barenaked Wools’ Hempshaugh Fingering, in the “kasha” colorway. It’s 40% merino, 30% silk, and 30% hemp, which seemed like a good blend for a southern California cardigan. I won’t lie, the hemp makes it a little scratchy — but as long as I wear long sleeves under it, I’ll be fine.

Here’s an action shot to show you the swingy-ness:

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The pattern calls for size 6 needles, but I needed to use 7s to get gauge. I was a little concerned about how loose the fabric would be, but I like it this light and swingy. I guessed correctly that this whole thing would get a little bigger if I wet blocked it, and I wanted to wet block it to get the hemp to soften up a bit, so I knit both the sleeves and the body a little shorter than I actually wanted them, which turned out to be a good plan. I’m very happy with the fit!

Here’s the back:

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That little panel of ribbing in the back helps cinch the waist in a little bit. I can’t say enough good things about this pattern; some parts are a little counterintuitive when you’re knitting them, but it all comes together beautifully in the end.

I knit this in the 41.5″ size, and it ended up using every single gram of three skeins of the Hempshaugh. I actually bought a fourth skein because I was worried about running out, and it’s a good thing I did — what I have left over equals exactly the weight of one skein, which means that I’d have had to unravel my gauge swatches and pray to the yarn gods to get to the end of that second sleeve. I wouldn’t have loved having those joins in the cuff, either; cuffs get a lot of wear and they might have come unraveled eventually.

I was going to end this post with a thank you to Elena for the lovely pattern and wishes for better health, but I’ve just learned that Elena passed away in June, which is heartbreaking.  The family’s GoFundMe page is still up, though, and I bet they could use some help paying off the medical bills, so maybe go help them out? Thanks, everybody.

A Tale of Two Sweaters

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Every knitter knows “the sweater curse”: if you knit a sweater for somebody with whom you are in a romantic relationship before you marry them, your relationship is doomed. It makes a certain amount of intuitive sense: for one thing, a sweater is a huge investment of time and energy, which might make the recipient uncomfortable. Furthermore, a sweater rarely comes out exactly perfect, which might cause the recipient to not want to wear it much, which might create tension in the relationship. The theory is that if you’re committed enough to each other enough to marry, then your relationship can stand the strain of a possibly-wonky sweater. Or else it’s magic. Who knows? What I know is that I flouted this ancient wisdom once in my youth, and I reaped the consequences. In my case, I think the actual sweater didn’t have any direct effect on the end of that relationship, but I was not fool enough to test the sweater curse twice. Though Pat had been asking me to knit him a sweater for years, I refused to do so until we were married. His marriage proposal, which was written down for me to read, ended with the words “now look at the sweaterless guy over there,” where he was kneeling with a ring.

So how could I do otherwise than to knit him a sweater immediately after we got married? I had to finish my brother’s blanket first, which you can read about in the previous post, but once that was done, this sweater was the first order of business.

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The pattern is Reece by Jane Ellison, from Queensland Collection Book 9 — yes, I had to track down this obscure print book to find the pattern that my husband wanted. That’s love, folks. He wanted something pretty plain and not flashy, but he was also fairly particular about what that meant, and there just aren’t as many mens’ sweater patterns out there as you would like. The pattern called for knitting the sleeves flat, though, which I hate and avoid whenever possible; I knit them in the round from the top down instead, just from measurements and math.

The yarn is KnitPicks Swish DK in the “dusk” colorway. The zipper came from Zipperstop, a website that will sell you a zipper in a custom length & color. I hadn’t intended the color of the zipper to be quite so much brighter than the yarn, but Pat decided he liked it that way. I also decided after about two minutes of trying to sew in the zipper myself that I would just pay a tailor $20 to have it professionally installed, which was better for everyone. I did manage to hand-sew in a zipper once, but it was on the sweater for He Who Shall Not Be Named, and maybe the less we can repeat that situation the better.

This past winter, I also knit my very first pullover:

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Cardigans tend to make more sense in southern California, but I do wear pullover sweaters in the winter, especially at night in our apartment where we tend not to run our ancient inefficient gas heater & just pull on layers of clothing and blankets. And I had loved Norah Gaughn’s Lempster since its debut in Knitty in 2013. I especially loved it in the original yarn, Berroco Abode, a thick-and-thin yarn with a lovely speckling effect — I just didn’t like any of the samples showing up on Ravelry in more conventional yarns nearly as much. However, when I decided to finally knit Lempster this past fall, I was dismayed to find that the original yarn had been discontinued. Fortunately, this had happened recently enough that I was still able to find it for sale at a variety of places; it was just hard to find sweater quantities in colors I liked. I couldn’t find the original blue colorway in sufficient quantities, but I eventually decided that the muted purple of the River colorway would also be very nice, and that’s what I settled on.

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I made a few modifications to the original: I knit the sleeves full-length, and I did the cable motif on the back also, as you can see here. This sweater is not for the faint of heart: in addition to the charts’ being complex, the construction (especially at the beginning) is really confusing, and in a few key places the directions are just plain wrong. The following Ravelers’ notes were key in helping me figure out what the heck I was doing: FuzzyPumpkin, Sophie7toes, Ephiphonora, and Handstitch. Another issue I had was that in blocking, this thing grew like 4 inches of length, which I ended up just unravelling. The Berroco Abode was super sticky and GREAT for unravelling without losing more stitches than you intended — which was, alas, something I had to do a lot in this project. I got to be an expert at fixing messed-up cable crosses several rows back without unravelling whole rows, which there really ought to be a knitters’ trophy (or at least a merit badge?) for.

But I really like how it came out, and the Berroco Abode makes a sweater that is lofty and lightweight while still being warm — it’s great for chilly California winter days, which is in fact when these photos were taken. But don’t worry: soon enough you’ll see me sweating in the summer heat while bravely sporting fall and winter wear for the sake of getting through my project backlog!

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Emelie

Image 1We’ve covered the chuppah, so here is the sweater I knit for Amanda’s wedding. To be fair, I started it without having the wedding specifically in mind, but the general idea of this sweater was “neutral-colored thing to wear over summer dresses in the evening,” so I quickly realized it would work well for this occasion and motored to finish it in time. The pattern is Emelie and the yarn is Anne Hanson’s Breakfast Blend Fingering in “Oatmeal.” This was a case where the yarn was the inspiration for the project — Anne brought this yarn out in (I think) the early spring and I was desperate to knit with it, and it occurred to me that the “Oatmeal” colorway would be perfect for “neutral-colored thing to wear over summer dresses in the evening.” So I looked through my Ravelry queue, and Emelie seemed to fit the bill. I loved how customizable the pattern is, and the trim, tailored look of the whole thing.

ImageFoolishly we didn’t get any pictures of the sweater at the gorgeous wedding location, so you’ll have to settle for these beer-wielding reception pictures. I chose to knit the 11″ version of this sweater, going for a cropped look — it works great with dresses like this, but I have a little regret that I didn’t knit the 13″ length, which would have been more versatile. I’m going to have to decide how I feel about visible swaths of t-shirted midriff. But a bonus of knitting it at this length is that my whole third skein of yarn is untouched! So I think I’m going to knit a pair of Anne’s delicious Waffle Creams socks with the leftovers.

Aaand I’ll leave you with a grainy-but-amusing after-dark shot. ‘Til next time!

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Rainshine

IMG_5604 Knit from my own handspun yarn! This pattern is Rainshine by Boo Knits. I’ve had a couple of her lovely shawl designs in my queue for a few months now, but this is the first I’ve actually made. I don’t think I ever even showed you an in-progress shot of this, it knit up so fast! But I do like to include fiber-to-yarn shots in my posts about handspun items, so here’s the yarn when I was spinning it up: IMG_5245_2 Two ounces of a 50/50 merino/silk blend from the Sincere Sheep, purchased from the artisan herself at Vogue Knitting LA last fall. I spindle-spun 420 yards of laceweight yarn, and used a little more than 350 yards of it in this shawl.

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I did the extra rows for the “more dramatic” edging that the pattern offers as an option, but I didn’t use beads and I didn’t do the crochet bindoff, because without a bead to weigh down the middle of that 10-chain point, I thought it might lose its shape and become a loop instead of a point over time. Also, the crochet bindoff was going to be a huge pain in the ass.

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Overall, I’m very happy with this piece. I think it’s a good match of pattern to yarn; I wanted something for this lavender color that was going to be sort of wispy and ethereal, and this pattern fits the bill!

Here’s what else I have going:

IMG_5624This is actually much bigger now, but I didn’t feel like shooting it again — I thought I was going to make this post two weeks ago before I went on vacation, but it didn’t happen! This is the beginning of a Laminaria shawl that I’m knitting according to Xavi’s mods in order to leave out the star chart and start straight in with the blossom chart. I made one of these the regular way back in 2009, and I love it but it’s very big, very wooly, and very gray, so I don’t actually wear it all that often. The yarn I’m using this time is Serenity Silk + from Zen Yarn Garden and it’s lovely. The picture here makes it look both more uniform and more blue than it actually is — it’s really a shifting blue-green that I hope Pat & I can capture when we shoot the finished object!

I’ve also been working on a little summer cardigan of a type I’ve been needing for awhile:

IMG_5637And as you can see, I’ve made a lot of progress! (This came on vacation with me, too; also it’s just been a long time since I’ve written a post.) It’s an Emelie cardigan; the pattern is by Elin Berglund. The yarn, which I’m totally in love with, is Anne Hanson’s new Breakfast Blend Fingering in the “Oatmeal” colorway. I’d been needing a little cardigan in a neutral color to wear over pastels etc in the warm weather, and as soon as this yarn came out I knew it would be perfect. As great as it would have been to pair Anne’s yarn with one of her own patterns, I also knew that Emelie, with its cropped length option and its 3/4 sleeves and its lack of seaming, was the sweater I wanted to knit with it. And I can’t say enough good things about this yarn — it’s soft, but with a good firm hand that makes you have real confidence in the shape and longevity of the finished sweater.

I promise it won’t be such a long stretch between posts next time. I’ve actually just gotten started on an exciting “vintage” project with some yarn my mom found in her basement, but I’m going to wait until next time (when I’ve made a little more progress) to tell you about it!

River Crossing

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If you’re wondering how I managed to finish two sweaters in two weeks, don’t worry — I didn’t. I started this one last fall, then shelved it in favor of Christmas knitting, then I wanted to knit my heavier-weight Acer Cardigan first so I could get some wear out of it in the chilly early months of spring. All I head left on this one was the sleeves and the collar, which is what I finished over the past two weeks!

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This is River Crossing, from Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s lovely book Winged Knits, knit in Hazel Knits Piquant Lite in the Nickel colorway. I honestly would not recommend knitting this pattern using this particular yarn, as it’s a bit too thin, but I was dead set on marrying this color with this sweater and I’m pretty satisfied with the results.

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I was able to get gauge with the thin yarn — on the recommended needles, no less! — but the fabric is quite open and prone to stretching, and the texture around the collar doesn’t pop like it could. A plumper fingering weight yarn would make a sturdier fabric and make the whole piece tidier.

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Even with these issues, I’m happy with the finished garment — it’s a good basic sweater, and something I already find myself reaching for regularly. My only complaint about the pattern itself is that the yardage estimate seems way off — in the size I knit (36 3/4″), 1180 yards were called for and I only used 880! That means I have a lot of this pretty gray yarn left, and I’m thinking about using it as the base color in a scarf or shawl that’s striped with lots of leftovers from other sock and shawl projects. Hooray for stashbusting!

Acer Cardigan

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I’ve finally finished my Acer Cardigan! After starting it a year ago, abandoning it all summer, then ripping it out this winter because it was too big and knitting the next smallest size, this is a sweet victory. The sizing is now perfect — here it is all buttoned up:

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The sleeves are still a little big — I ignored the pattern and tried to knit them top-down to fit, but they still came out a little large. I did this because the first time around, I knit one of the sleeves as written and it came out huge. But I’m super happy with this! Here’s a back shot where you can see the cable pattern clearly:

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The yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in the “charcoal” colorway, purchased exactly a year ago at Imagiknit in San Francisco. This year for spring break, Pat and I are just hanging around Long Beach, and it’s been great so far. We’ve had a picnic, done pub trivia, gone to the roller derby, and watched all four hours and 20 minutes of the Met’s production of Die Walküre. I also bought these new sunglasses, which I love.

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I taught myself Techknitter’s Tulip Buttonhole for this sweater and it worked great! It’s definitely a little fiddly, but that video I linked to there shows you everything you need to know and the resulting buttonhole is very sturdy and strong. Pat was endlessly amused to learn that a “new” buttonhole had been recently invented, that buttonhole technology was in fact improving, but it totally is and I recommend that you check this out if you’ve missed it!