Category Archives: finished object: sweater

And then you get a sweater

Between late January and early April I worked on the Dusseldorf Aran, as a brightly coloured respite from the winter and a “someone else’s pattern” respite from my own design work. I enjoyed it. I would have liked to have finished it a bit sooner, and gotten some winter wear out of it this past season, but I’m pleased enough that it will be waiting for me in my closet come October.

May8-Dusseldorf4

It’s a lovely pattern (Fiona Ellis, for Interweave Knits Winter 2009), and the pleated sleeves are completely fun. Granted, they are also a bit less practical, and this won’t be a sweater to wear while, say, washing dishes in the sink, but it’ll be a nice warm and dressy sweater all the same. The yarn is Ultra Alpaca from Berocco, in a stubbornly bright magenta shade that I found at Stitch in Jordan Station, Niagara, last year. I brought the pattern and materials with me to the Vogue Knitting Live event just to use as a reference for a sweater class with Anne Hanson, and then back in my hotel room later on I thought, “you know, I actually want that sweater. I will cast on right now!” So I did. I made a few modifications – lengthening the torso by about an inch and a half or so, lowering the neckline slightly, and adjusting to a smaller size than normal to account for my slightly looser gauge than what the pattern called for. It worked out well.

May8-Dusseldorf5

I hear a lot from knitters who consider sweaters to be in the “wow that’s hard, one day I’ll do that” category. And I get it – a sweater is a commitment. This is more time and yarn than many other kinds of projects. But it’s all incremental. Casting on – check your gauge, check your measurements and size. Choose where you’re going to modify the pattern, if you have to. (Hint: your body may not be the same body as the one in the pattern schematic.) Then move on to the hem, then the decreases, and before you know it you’ve finished the body and are moving onto the sleeves.

Then the finishing looms, but then you do it and when you’ve sewn up the seams and woven in any ends, then you have a sweater. I often think the reason I procrastinate the most on the finishing stage (seriously, it could be a single skein shawl with only 2 ends to weave in, and I’ll leave it for a week until I get around to sewing them in), is because then the project isn’t a project any more, it’s a garment and I don’t get to knit it any more. Which is odd since I actually really love getting to move on and choose the next project, but I suppose it’s some weird way that my subconscious says “hey, you LIKE the knitting part, remember? Let’s make it last longer!”

May8-Dusseldorf2

Anyway, I like sweaters. Socks and other accessories have colonized so much of my knitting in the last year or two that sweaters often get left aside, and I would like to knit more of them. Really, they are the best example of knitted satisfaction – in a sea of commercially-made sweaters that don’t fit you exactly right and aren’t made in the materials you prefer or the colours you might choose for yourself, the knitted sweater is the best example I can think of, of knitters wielding their power to make their closet more satisfying. Heck, I bet Tim Gunn just wishes he had a shelf full of handknit sweaters. It sometimes takes a sweater or two to get there – like anything else in knitting, the first results are often less than perfect. But it doesn’t mean you can’t get there with a little effort.

So if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go have a visit with my stash and ponder more sweaters. Who cares that summer is around the corner? Happy Monday!

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Filed under cables, finished object: sweater, sweaters

So long, 2010

I’m a little late and a dollar short on my look back at 2010, and as I once again look ahead to a busy first few months of the new year (‘day job’ teaching, and of course a lot of knitting plans), I’m glad to have taken it a bit slow for these first few days of the new year. It has been restful to allow myself a bit of time to work on my current projects and think about new ones, without interruption.

I’ve also been wearing my last big project of 2010, and grabbed some photos of it yesterday thanks to Bridget, which means I can finally report on it here and call 2010 officially wrapped up.

Jan7-Yoke1

This is my fair isle yoke cardigan, worked from instructions found in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Around. It is based on her ‘percentage system’, instructing you to do the math for your own body and essentially design your own sweater to fit. As written, the pattern instructions are for a pullover, but I decided to plan it out as a cardigan using a steek down the centre to create the gap for the button band (as described in my previous post). I’m happy with how it turned out, though I do wish in retrospect that I had used just one more button, allowing for slightly closer distance between buttons.

Jan7-Yoke3

It was an enjoyable knit, and one which really progressed fairly quickly once I dedicated myself to it (it was sadly put aside more than once, for a couple of weeks at a time), since the majority of it is plain stockinette stitch. And because I’m Like That, I decided to choose my own fair isle motifs for the yoke (and sleeve accents, for fun), which took a bit more brain time for decision-making but again moved pretty quickly once I sat down to do it. I’m happy with the final result and would be happy to knit another one – perhaps even take the foundational ideas into some designs.

My 2010 had some good knitting in it.

Mar21-Neptune7

All in all in 2010, I completed 30 projects or so – a great number, but one which is actually smaller than my totals for any of the years past. I think this is because I devoted more of my time than ever before to projects of my own design, and with design comes time spent in progress and thought before anything can be completed. I’m happy with the projects I did this year – 5 sweaters, 11 pairs of socks, 6 pairs of mittens and gloves, and many other shawls, hats, and other accessories.

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Oct8-Staked4

I completed many projects that I’m quite proud of, and I’m glad for the things I’ve learned through them. I tried my hand at shawl design for the first time (and then a second time), and have been lucky to have worked with different and beautiful yarns from several Canadian dyers. I travelled to Rhinebeck once again and met up with a lot of wonderful knitting friends, new and old. I expanded by knowledge by taking more knitting classes, and taught a few more knitting classes myself. I look forward to more of all of this in 2011.

I hope your 2011 has gotten off to a good start! Happy knitting, and happy weekend ahead.

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Filed under elizabeth zimmerman, fair isle, finished object: sweater, year in review

Making the deadline

On Friday, during the van ride down to Rhinebeck, I knitted the 2nd sleeve.

On Friday night, I sewed the sleeves to the body over margaritas.

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And on Saturday, I wore the finished sweater to Rhinebeck. (Royale, available on Ravelry and on Patternfish.)

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It was awesome.

I also bought some yarn. More about that tomorrow. There’s some more knitting and drinking to be done first. Hurray for knitting weekends!

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Filed under design, finished object: sweater, sweaters

Take Two

I told you I had another thing to show you that I was getting done for this weekend’s Knitter’s Fair in Kitchener-Waterloo. Lo and behold, it is done, though I regret muchly that I wasn’t able to wrangle a clothed-person photo session with it. I can ensure you that I have in fact put on the final sample and I love it and am very glad Kim is letting me hang onto the sample, otherwise Things might Happen and one doesn’t like Things to Happen when there are precious skeins of yarn hanging around.

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This is the Stage Door cardigan, for Indigodragonfly yarns, and will be available at the fair tomorrow in print copy, as also will be the yarn I made it in. It is delicious. Merino/Silk DK, in a colour named “I am filled with ennui (dramatic sigh)”. Kim took the name inspiration from a Glee line spoken by (I think) Kurt, ergo the pattern name had to take theatrics into account, n’est pas?

[ETA]: Now available on Patternfish, and in my Ravelry store.

I’m quite happy with the end result. It’s long, shaped (high waist), and very easy to throw on and then pull off again. I kept the foundation simple with stockinette because quite frankly, when there is 50% silk in the house, drape is what you want. Mmmmm, silk.

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The detail around the neck and collar are also a win for me. Just enough interest and texture to keep you paying attention, but not overwhelmingly so. And it’s very comfy. At 20 sts/28 rows over 4 inches, it’s also pleasant as a fall-to-winter knit.

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And with that, my weekend is drawing very close to starting. I’ll be back next time with more purchasing details on this and the Allons-Y shawl/scarf from my last post. I hope your weekend is knit-a-riffic, whatever corner you’re in!

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Filed under design, finished object: sweater

Royale

Okay, so usually when I finish a design and then put it out into the world for public consumption, I am immediately filled with a strangling mix of glee and terror, when all my insecurities about things I could have done differently/better/while inhabiting a different personality/with more Zen/whatever immediately jump up and down on my head.

Not this time. Or, at least I can say that the glee part of my brain is winning, for the moment. I love this pattern. I love it to little tiny bits. This is the ‘Royale’ pullover, (available here in my Ravelry store, and here on Patternfish) and my second of two designs for Tanis Fiber Arts this season (just in time for the Knitter’s Frolic on Saturday!)

May6-Royale11-Full

I’d been wanting to do a pullover pattern of some kind for Tanis, as I’d done a cardigan jacket for her last fall, and I also knew I wanted to do something with cables. Once I got the yarn in my hands – this is a “new and improved”, deeper, richer version of her standard ‘garnet’ colourway – I knew exactly what this needed to be. No wimpy cables here. No no. Regal, royal, decadent cables. And nice and fitted, yes please. Tanis’ superwash Aran is wonderfully comfortable to wear and there’s no reason not to put it into a nice modern fit. I’m a particular fan of the 3/4 sleeves and scoopneck, if I do say so myself.

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The front and back each feature a large cable motif framed by a smaller one, and the smaller cable motif is then repeated along the centre of each sleeve. Additionally, I’ve written the pattern so that the tiny cable twists from the motifs grow from the ribbing at the hem and cuffs. The cable patterns are all fully charted, and once again I strongly recommend cabling without a cable needle to speed things along, which I’ve talked about recently as well.

May5-Royale1

I’ve included instructions for 6 sizes, between 30″ and 49″ (garment bust size) and recommend that this be made for slight negative ease or zero ease if at all possible. Schematics are also included, so feel free to modify at any time if you wish – i.e. change the length, change the height of the neckline, etc, if you feel you would achieve a more comfortable fit this way.

This is certainly a skilled knit, but one that is not too far out of reach of any knitter who has a few sweaters and a few cabled pieces under their belt. Once you establish the cables and get started, everything repeats and you start to get into a rhythm. There is waist shaping, and the body and sleeves are each worked in the round, then once you reach the neckline and armholes the front and back are worked flat, back and forth, as is the sleeve cap once you reach that part of the sleeve.

May6-Royale1

As usual, please let me know if you find any errors or concerns. This has indeed been through a test-knitting phase by a friend of mine, but naturally there is always the possibility of something slipping through the cracks. Contact me at crazy.knitting.lady[at]gmail.com and I will do my best to help with any questions.

And now, I am off to put the finishing touches on one last thing that I’ll show you tomorrow. It’s been a busy little while here at Knitting To Stay Sane, and I’m just glad to finally be able to show a few things off.

Happy knitting, as always!

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Filed under cables, design, finished object: sweater

Finishing is Fun

Although I’ve finished a few projects in the past month, I’ve been a little bit slow in getting the FO photos together. My Cassidy cardigan is one such casualty. I finished it in time to wear at Rhinebeck – yea verily, I was sewing on the buttons the night before – which was darned useful as I knitted it in Ultra Alpaca and it stood me very well as a warm outdoor garment.

This past Saturday I wore it into Toronto for my yarnly engagements – a class at the Naked Sheep, and hanging-out time at the Purple Purl – and got Jennifer to take about a bazillion pictures of me while I was at the Purl, figuring that there would be at least a couple of shots that turned out. Turns out yarn shops make good photography backdrops, as one might well anticipate.

Oct31-Cassidy6

Pattern: Cassidy, by Bonne Marie Burns / Chic Knits
Yarn: Berocco Ultra Alpaca, ‘oceanic mix’ colourway
Needles: 4.5mm Addi Turbos
Cast-on: September 12, 2009
Cast-off: October 13, 2009.

Modifications: The only thing I did differently was to add length, as I usually do. It adds up to about 1.5 ins added both before and after the waist shaping. The waist then sits where my actual waist is, and covers my hips comfortably. Tall girls unite! Modifying patterns for length since time began.

Oct17-RhinebeckATouchOfTwist

This is a very comfortable sweater, the Ultra Alpaca is a gorgeous, heathery shade of turquoise, and I have been getting nothing but compliments on it when I wear it out and about. I am even contemplating doing a second one some time in the future…or at the very least, more Ultra Alpaca sweaters. I love this yarn to bits and pieces.

While I’m here, let me just put in a PSA for the benefits of working sweaters in pieces. Now, there are different forms of sweater construction and I’ve done several of them. I think there are times when working a sweater in the round is appropriate and enjoyable, and I’ve done many sweaters in the round. Sometimes it’s because the pattern told me to, other times it’s because I’ve preferred it in the round and modified the pattern to suit my interests.

Cassidy directs you to work in separate pieces which are then seamed together, and I went with this. Here are my reasons three:

1. Portability. I knitted about 2/3 of this sweater over 2 weeks, largely because every time I got on a bus or train, I pulled this out of my bag. It is a lot easier to carry around a piece of a sweater to knit one at a time than to eventually be carrying around most of an entire sweater, which you will be doing at some point if you work it in the round.

2. Structure. Here i used Ultra Alpaca, which is 50% wool/50% alpaca. Alpaca is wonderfully warm and drapey, but also much less elastic and springy than wool. As a result, things made with alpaca and, to a certain extent, alpaca blends, will want to sag and stretch a little bit more than things made with plain wool, which bounces and blocks right back into place after you handwash it. Seams add structural integrity and strength to the garment, and sometimes you want a little bit of extra of that to go around.

Oct31-Cassidy4

3. Control. Cassidy, as you can see above, has a hood. If I had done the sweater all in the round bottom-up and attached the sleeves as I went, I would have ended up working the hood with the entire weight of the sweater in my lap. When you’re working the hood back and forth up there at the neck, you’re flipping back and forth and it can be cumbersome to do that with a whole sweater. Here, I seamed up only the body, worked the hood, then attached the sleeves last.

And you know, the truth of the matter is, I don’t mind seaming. Well, I mind it in the same way that I mind pretty much any finishing steps in the sense that it is the thing standing in the way of me wearing the item and this sometimes annoys me enough to avoid it as long as possible (seriously, I have been known to procrastinate 2 weeks on two little ends to weave in on a shawl. Two), but now that I know how to do seams and how they should look, I don’t mind them as much as I did when I was first knitting sweaters as a new knitter. It gets easier and better with practice, like most other things.

And then when you finish it all, you have a really comfortable and pretty sweater that even Fiona Ellis herself will compliment you on when you wear it to her class. More on that tomorrow!

May your Monday be as painless as possible, with knitting waiting for you at home.

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Filed under cables, finished object: sweater

Patterns Ahoy

It’s been a productive summer in many ways. I’ve had a bit of extra time to work on knitted things, and in between bits of ‘real’ work and cat-sitting stints and Sock-Summit-ing, I’ve had the time to do some pattern design work behind the scenes. This is on the one hand, exciting and creative and fun and vaguely terrifying and all the normal things that designing is. On the other hand, I am rarely known for excelling at being patient, and waiting to announce things that have been in the works for a few months is enough to drive me just a little bit batty.

Thankfully, I’m finally at a point where I can start showing you some of the things I’ve had in the works. Over the next few months, I’ll have the extreme pleasure of announcing no fewer than 4 and possibly up to 6 or 7 knitted patterns of my own design, in all sorts of garment styles and yarns. Some will be going into publications, others I am planning on self-publishing, and still others have been developed in collaboration with some wonderful Canadian dyers. The one I have to show you today fits into this last category, and is one I’ve been working on with the extremely talented Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts.

The first thing you need to know about Tanis’ yarns is that they are AWESOME. No really. They’re some of my favourite yarns that I’ve ever worked with and I’ve only known about her stuff for a little over a year. You’ll come for the beautiful colours, and stay for the fantastic quality. I have had the good fortune to correspond with her over the last few months, and we are in cahoots to develop what will, hopefully, eventually be a line of original patterns designed with her yarn in mind. The first of these designs is what I am able to show you today:

Rendezvous5b

This is the Rendezvous Jacket. It uses Tanis’ Aran Weight yarn, and is shown here in the excuse-me-I’m-going-to-get-really-noticed-wearing-this ‘Peacock’ colourway. It is available for download purchase here in my Ravelry store online (this uses Paypal), and will also be sold in hard copy by Tanis herself after this weekend. The cost in both locations is $6.00, and the pattern comes fully formatted with a colour cover page, instructions for 6 sizes (35-50″ garment bust), and pattern schematic. Tanis will be taking the pattern (and the lovely sample) this weekend to the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair this coming Saturday, so if you’re planning on being there you can definitely stop by her booth and ponder it in person.

(In fact, regardless of whether you knit this pattern, you should really go look at her yarns anyway. Have I mentioned that they’re awesome? This is a superwash yarn and has already had a hand-wash and machine-dry and it still looks fantastic.)

When I planned this pattern I wanted it to fit somewhere in the category of a little bit classic, a little bit modern, a little bit casual. Because Tanis herself is going to be distributing this pattern in hard copy when she takes her yarn to fairs and shows, I wanted it to be able to fit with a wide range of skill sets and ages. Aside from the two 6-stitch cables that frame the central panels, the entire pattern uses only knits and purls, increases and decreases, which means that even an adventurous beginner knitter should be able to take this on.

Rendezvous1b

Most importantly, I wanted to use a bit of texture. The jacket features a double-moss stitch panel on either side of the front, and down the centre of the back. This is matched by similar panels on the cuffs of the 3/4 length sleeves. Tanis’ yarns have a wonderful semi-solid tone and really need very little help showing off.

Rendezvous4b

The shape of the jacket is slightly flared at the hem, which tapers gradually to a slightly raised waistline. This is then emphasized by the button closures near the bust. (Though I know that with just a bit of thought, crafty knitters could modify this and place the waist and buttons where-ever the heck they want. Personalize away! In fact, I probably would do so if I was knitting this for myself – you know, with the adding the length for the tall gal.)

Phew. Turns out I had quite a lot to tell you this morning. With that, I’m going to help my brain re-settle and turn to a few non-knitting things for the rest of the day, and continue to look forward to Saturday at the knitter’s fair. (I mean it’s been a whole month since Sock Summit, now, a girl needs some multi-vendor yarn buying opportunities on a regular basis!)

Happy Wednesday! Keep the knitting close by.

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Filed under design, finished object: sweater