Category Archives: finished object: sweater

Pardon me, I couldn’t hear you over how awesome my sweater is

Legendary, folks. Legendary. It is done, it fits like a dream, and it is going to kick all kinds of ass when I wear it at Rhinebeck this fall. This is Autumn Rose.

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Pattern: Autumn Rose, by Eunny Jang (published in Jamieson’s ‘Simply Shetland 4′)
Yarn: Palette fingering weight, from Knit Picks
Needles: 3.25mm Addi Turbos
Cast on: April 25, 2009
Bind off: July 23, 2009 (then a couple more days for washing/blocking)
Modifications: Many.

Oh, where do I start with the modifications. The most obvious one was the colour scheme. I went with Knit Picks’ Palette because I own quite a lot of it, and I quite like the colour selection now that they have been expanding the heathers line. I hope they will continue to expand further, as it can only make the yarn more versatile as a colur-work tool. The original Autumn Rose colours in the pattern are gorgeous, but just not a good fit for my own colour preferences. I tend more towards reds and purples and jewel tones and the original scheme reads more on the rustier – or, well, ‘autumn’ side of the spectrum. After much swatching and indecision, I settled on the one you see here.

In place of golds, I made use of the new green shades Knit Picks added to their Palette collection recently. The main one is clover (in place of old gold), and the others from darkest to lightest are spearmint, edamame, celadon, and green tea heather. In place of the oranges and blues used in the original, I used purples and reds. The main one is garnet heather (seen next to clover in the ribbing sections), and the others from darkest to lightest are merlot heather, bark, clematis heather, huckleberry heather, and lilac heather. (Aside: if Knit Picks ever discontinues the garnet heather shade, I may not survive. It is my absolute favourite).

Also, let it be known that swatching is WORTH IT. The only thing keeping me on the ledge while I fretted over whether it was coming out too small was knowing that my swatch did indeed block out to gauge after I washed it (when knitting sweaters remember to both knit and wash your swatches, friends, much tragedy could be saved.)

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Another key area in which I made modifications is in the length and sizing. Essentially, if I had knitted this pattern purely according to the written instructions and not put any thought into it, it would have been several inches shorter, the waistline would not have fit me, and the shoulders would have been far too snug. This alone does not make this a bad pattern – it is extremely gorgeous, make no mistake. It simply means that this pattern is designed for a person several inches shorter than me. This is also a pretty common thing for me, the only difference is that with a fair isle patter like this, you can’t exactly rip out a few inches and start over as easily as with a plain single colour project.

I think that anyone making this sweater would be smart to begin by drawing their own pattern schematic based on their own body and the desired measurements you want, then ensure that once you have begun and established the chart, your knitting follows the length measurements you need and the stitch counts you need for width based on gauge.

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Never forget that when you are knitting a sweater, whoever designed it is never going to be exactly as smart as you. That pattern was not designed for your body, and your job – which you are entirely qualified for – is to know your body well enough to adjust whatever it is you are knitting to fit yourself. This concept generally gets emphasized in the context of knitting plus-sized sweaters (and rightly so), but I’m here to tell you that as a tall woman, never once have I encountered a sweater pattern that hasn’t required some modification. I’ve added length to sleeves and hems, and re-placed waistlines so often now that it’s become second nature, and I generally need to add at least an inch or more between the waist and armholes in order to ensure the waist actually sits where my waist is. The moral of the story is, if you want your sweaters to fit – know thyself! Measure your body, know your gauge, and know how much ease you want to achieve, and make it so.

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The original Autumn Rose pattern calls for an extremely low neckline, so much the better to accommodate negative ease around the bust and provide a very modern look. I did, however, raise the neckline about 2 inches, which I have seen from Ravelry is a pretty common modification. I am pretty happy with this decision and am comfortable with how this would look over a tee or camisole from my own wardrobe. Essentially, I set the neckline to begin at about the same time as the armhole decreases. Additionally, I lengthened the shoulders by spacing out the last several decreases a little more than what the pattern specifies. I have broad shoulders, so this was a good decision for me.

You wanted to see the inside, right? Right, I thought you did, that’s why I took pictures of it. There’s the white crocheted edge of the cut steek, now tucked away neatly inside the neckline. You can also see all the ends of the yarns from all of the colour changes, which were woven in as I worked each new pair of colours.

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When I learned to knit fair isle, the first project I made was a Philosopher’s Wool sweater. On their website the Philosopher’s wool folks have a video about knitting two-handed for colour-work, and this along with a personal tutorial from my friend Dee was essentially all the instruction I had on two-handed technique. I use the same general approach not just for knitting but for weaving in new colours a few stitches before the change-over (you can see where all the ends are sticking out there just before the side seam, on either side). This essentially means that you are weaving in ends as you go, which saves you from having to weep the tears of a thousand rivers weave in all the ends after you are finished the whole sweater. All that’s left is a bit of trimming, sew in the ends at the bind-off and cast-on edges, and you’re done.

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On my last post a few days ago when I was cutting the steek on this sweater, a lot of you commented on what an act of courage it must be to do this, or how brave I must be to be working steeks or colour-work. And you know, that absolutely tickles me because the fact of the matter is, ‘brave’ is probably the last adjective in the world I would use to describe myself. If I made you a list of all the things I’ve shied away from doing because of being too chicken, well…it wouldn’t be a very pretty list. But after knitting a sweater like this (and this may be easy to guess based on how many other possible ways there are to stress out about a project like this, as described above), the actual cutting of the steek becomes sort of beside the point. In the process, I’d forgotten that steeking is something that really does call for a bit of moxy. So, if making this sweater makes me in any way brave…I’ll take it.

And Elspeth? Since we are supposedly both knitting this sweater to wear for Rhinebeck 2009…If you don’t find a way to make this sweater yourself, even though I know you’re sweating bullets over getting gauge…I’m comin’ for you. That’s right, YOU.

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And YOU TOO, if you don’t get out there and knit yourself some fair isle. Grab your favourite colours, grab a stranded pattern, any pattern, no matter how simple or how difficult, and DO IT. You’ll never look at knitting the same way again.

(Also, thank you all for the birthday wishes/spinning congrats yesterday, they were fantastic.)

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Filed under fair isle, finished object: sweater

Two for two

In my head, I’ve totally been participating in the NaKnitSweMoDo (or whatever it’s called when you pledge to knit a sweater a month for a year), but so far the 3rd month of the year is coming to an end and I have only finished two sweaters. Oh well. Hope springs eternal, yes?

This is also my second from last Winter’s Interweave Knits – the Climbing Vines Pullover by Joelle Meier Rioux. I call it a win.

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Sadly the late-March weather has been giving a lot of clouds and not quite as much outdoor photoshoot light as one might prefer, and some of the best shots came out slightly blurry. Perhaps fittingly so, given that the yarn is Dream in Color Classy ‘Blue Lagoon’, and it certainly does have an ‘underwater’ look about it.

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I’m happy with the ease on this, I worked it for about 2 inches of positive ease and it fits comfortably. I did add about 1.5 ins of length overall and wish now that I’d added about an inch more, but I’ll live. It’s comfortable, relatively fitted, and I can happily go out into the world in it this spring. Tall girls, take note – definitely one for the modifications. Another thing I will note about the pattern is that the sleeves are quite snug. If I were to do it again I’d add 4-6 sts at the beginning of the cuff and adjust from there. The 3/4 sleeves are great for spring but are less accommodating around the muscles of your arms when they hit mid-forearm.

The Dream in Color is designed to prevent pooling, however between skeins there was the occasional variation in colour and consistency, so I alternated skeins every 2-3 rows while working the body. I still ended up with a bit of flashing, as you’ll note from the pictures above, but at least it’s an overall effect. You can see an example of this on the shoulder, where the top 2 inches were done in a new skein, and the colour changed obviously.

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Because this was mostly stockinette, I was able to work through it pretty quickly during my evening knitting time, and the actual knitting only took me 15 days. Now I am left with the decision, once again, as to which sweater to make next. Naturally this means that I have since cast on 2 new pairs of socks and one shawl, but no new sweater yet. Stay tuned as further news bulletins occur on that front.

And finally, I am really looking forward to a bit of rest in a few weeks when the term comes to an end, as I have once again picked up the current variation of viral plague circulating throughout Ontario, and would very much like to stop coughing some time soon. Thankfully the new Sock Summit website is up to distract me, my plane ticket to Portland is now booked for August, and Rebecca and I are already plotting. How soon is August? Can it be August now?

At least April will be here soon. I see lace knitting in my future.

Keep the knitting close by!

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Sweater Time

Just because it is now officially March, it is less than a month until spring starts on the calendar, and the retail stores have been trying to convince us for weeks that it is already time to buy tee shirts and sandals and flowing spring dresses, around these parts in Ontario we can’t stand down just yet. The temperatures are well below zero this week, I’m on my second cold since mid-January, and lordy oh lordy do I have sweater stash that needs knitting up.

This was a big motivator for me in starting the Blooming Cardigan. It was a perfect gauge match for the Wild Apple Hill Farm wool I bought at Rhinebeck in 2008 (a rustic, wooly aran wool with heathery texture), and I thought it would just be a nice way to knock out a sweater. I liked the style but didn’t anticipate loving it the same way I have known and loved other sweaters.

Well, I’m here to tell you I was wrong. I do love this sweater. I might wear it all week, in fact.

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Pattern: Blooming Cardigan, by Sarah Hoadley, in Interweave Knits Winter 2008
Yarn: Wild Apple Hill Farm 2-ply, blackberry colourway
Needles: 5mm for the body and sleeves, 3.75mm for the ribbing and collar. If I did it again I’d go up to 4.0mm on the ribbing.
Modifications and Notes:The main modification I did was to add length. I’m 5’9″ and with most mainstream patterns, I typically add 1″ before beginning the waist shaping decreases, and 1″ between the waist and the armholes. This is one of those times where all my assumptions about what I knew about gauge, what I knew about the right length I need for me, the right spot to put the waist shaping…it all worked perfectly. It took me several sweaters at the beginning of my sweater-knitting time to figure all this out, but now that I have, sweaters are my favourite. (Well OK, except for when socks are my favourite.)

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The other main modification I did was to change the little cable twists at the edge of the bobbled nosegay pattern, so that they were twisting in opposite directions instead of the same direction. I also moved the nosegay pattern towards the center a little bit, so that I could keep it intact after doing the armhole shaping decreases. Other than that, I did work the body in one piece, and eliminated the sash purely for personal preference, but the pattern itself is well written and suitable for a variety of skill levels. If you’ve got something aran and tweedy or heathery sitting around, give this a whirl.

This took me about a month and a half start to finish, but if I”d dedicated myself to it more monogamously it would have been finished in a few weeks. I have to start knitting at 16 sts over 4 ins more often.

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I have to say that the more I spend time looking at this Winter 2008 issue of Interweave Knits, the more I like it. In fact, there isn’t much I wouldn’t knit from this issue, and there aren’t many magazine issues I can say that about. I think this issue has been getting less love among knitters because whenever I hear people talking about the new Spring 2009 issue, it is often with a “thank goodness it’s better than the last issue” tacked on in passing.

Well, Winter 2008 IK, I’m here for you. Let’s be friends and knit things together, we’ll have a grand old time.

Happy knitting!

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It’s the hardest part

Not the knitting, not the bobbles, not the psychological stamina of getting through all the seaming and then remembering to still knit the sash…nope. The hardest part is waiting for the danged thing to dry so you can sew the buttons on already and call it a day.

Aran-weight wool sure is warm and toasty but after a hand-wringing and two towel rolls it still needs another day’s air dry. The Blooming Cardigan is almost there….

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Check out that hot bobble action.

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The next hardest part? Figuring out which sweater to knit next. It’s a good thing swatching fills that between-time nicely.

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One more knitting week left in February. Better make it count!

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Filed under finished object: sweater, swatching, sweaters

Finishing things

The upside to a workday at home is that it is extremely easy to have a break to blog about your finished knitted things. The downside is the lack of photographers.

As a result, while I’d love to show you a fantasic Finished Object photo-shoot of my completed Twist Cardi (which has been patiently languishing for weeks while I finally went out and got buttons), the best I can show you is this:

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I’ll wrangle a photographer later, this sweater deserves better. It turned out very comfy and warm, more like a jacket than a cardi, which is what I intended. For this shot I did a public service and cropped out my blotchy face…shady winter light is not a friend to portraits…but I can report that the hood is lovely and functions well.

On the hat front, I did indeed manage to finish the Inga Hat of previous posting, with some extra yarn that reader Robyn handed off to me last week when I handed over her blog contest winnings from last month (other winners – your yarn is in the mail! Mea culpa. I don’t know why it takes me so long to get to the post office). But sadly it is indeed too long. The blocking for cloche-effect did actually work, but the crown still sits too high. I am going to try one last effort of ripping out the last 6-8 rows and sewing it up. If that doesn’t work…Well, then it’s a fair isle felted tea cosy for me.

But I did finally get to another hat, after perusing Ravelry and discovering the Norwegian Star Earflap Hat (Ravelry free download link) from Tiennie. This one worked. I did have to pull out the first attempt after a couple of inches once it was clear I needed to go down in needle size, but once I got the circumference worked out the rest was just fine. Thanks to the 2/3 of a skein of the same petal pink Patons, which just happened to be sitting in my stash from last year, I now have a hat to go with the gloves I finished a couple of weeks ago.

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I figure if you’re going to make the decision to make an earflap hat, you might as well go full tilt and add pompoms to the i-cord tassels. (A decision which I feel is validated by other Ravelry users doing the same thing). My only concern is that the combination of tassels and the pink shade may have resulted in a hat more suitable for someone closer to 13 than 30, but I’ll go with it for now. It’s warm, it fits, and I’ve got all winter to make Hat Attempt #3.

The pattern is very well written, and gives you 3 child circumferences and 3 adult circumferences, and is infinitely variable in colour combinations. Since the fair isle section is only 15 rows, it is easy to adjust length by adding or removing rows to the solid colour sections. I call this one a win.

Although I still have quite a bit of work to get done in the next few weeks, and a Mt-Everest-sized mountain of prep to do for next term, I’m very much looking forward to the fun parts of December. Knitting, baking, and hibernating ahoy!

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Filed under finished object: accessories, finished object: sweater, sweaters

Soon. Soon.

In 2 more sleeps I will be on my way to New York City, to the waiting and generous spare bed of my knitting pal Rebecca, then on Saturday it will be off to the New York Sheep and Wool festival, aka Rhinebeck. Wait, there’s something missing in that description, what was it…oh yeah: WOO HOO.

I am so excited. I’ve been looking forward to this like whoa. It’s smack-dab in the middle of the term when both students and profs alike are getting a bit weary, and so far I haven’t had a bad trip to New York yet (knock on wood). For about a month I’ve been saying “I wish Rhinebeck was right now”, and soon it will be, yee-haw! I’ve got two or three vendors in mind that I want to get to first, and after that will be very happy to browse at leisure, and I’m hoping to run into a few of you fellow knit-bloggers out there too. Also, word on the street is that it’s going to be sweater-weather this weekend, which means a wonderful parade of knitwear will be waiting to be ogled.

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Thankfully, my own Rhinebeck sweater has been completed and ready and waiting for a week now, and lo and behold, it is lovely. My Cabled Swing Cardi fits beautifully and I think it looks darned smashing. Sadly it’s a bit grey out right now and this is probably not the best light for photography…and it would be even better to be wearing it IN the picture, but a photo session just hasn’t been in the cards the past few days. I’ll try to make up for that on the weekend.

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Pattern: Cabled Swing Cardi by Norah Gaughan, in The Knitter’s Book of Yarn by Clara Parkes.
Yarn: Berrocco Ultra Alpaca, colour “Lobster Mix”, 6.5 skeins. (This is much less than the 9 skeins the pattern calls for in the size I made. All evidence on Ravelry points to extremely generous yarn estimates for this pattern). I bought this yarn on sale at WEBS in the spring, and still have 3 skeins left. I’m sure I”ll think of something for the rest of it. It’s an extremely heathery brown, with shades of purple and red all mixed in, I’m pretty pleased with it considering I hardly ever wear brown.
Needles: 4.0mm for ribbing and 4.5mm for the rest.

Mods: The only changes I made were to add a couple of stitches on either side of the back to give it just an idge more ease on my shoulders – I have a fairly slim waist but slightly wider shoulders than most standard sizing accounts for given the size of the rest of me, so that’s a pretty common modification for me. I also opted for i-cord ties on both the inside and the outside front edges, instead of the button on the outside which the pattern instructs. I did this to allow more flexible ease to let me tighten or loosen the fit at the bust according to preference.

All in all, I call this pattern a win. I completed it in just over a month and probably could have had it done quicker if I’d worked on it more dedicatedly in the beginning. The cables are surprisingly intuitive on the front and once you’re finished those, the only other cabling is a small amount on the sleeves. I really like the double seed stitch texture at the top of the bodice.

I have, naturally, already cast on for another sweater. We’ll see if it comes with me this weekend to keep me company in airports.

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If I don’t get back to the blog before the weekend – have a good one, whether you’ll be fondling yarn at sheep & wool festivals or no! Catch you on the other side.

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Filed under cables, finished object: sweater, rhinebeck, sweaters

So are the days of our lives

There’s not much I can say about the Hourglass Sweater (from Last Minute Knitted Gifts) that hasn’t already been said. It’s simple, comfortable, and surely destined to become a wardrobe staple. After the usual Finished Object hemming-and-hawing, I’m pleased with mine:

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Pattern: Hourglass Pullover from ‘Last Minute Knitted Gifts’ by Joelle Hoverson
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted (in ‘holly hock’); I alternated skeins every 3 rows to prevent any pooling from the semi-solid kettle-dyed skeins
Needles: 4.5 mm circulars.
Size: Between the 37″ and 41″. I aimed for 39″ based on my gauge swatch (aw, lookit, I even swatched like a good knitter should…) and this worked out well.

Modifications: Although this is a fairly uncomplicated pattern and could use a variety of ubiquitous yarns, it is also a pattern that rewards attention to your own body shape. If I’d made the pattern exactly as written, it would have been too short and sat too high on my hips. As I often do, I added an inch in length before and after waist shaping to get the shape to match mine more evenly.

The other key ‘fit’ issue is the shoulders. A very brief search on Ravelry will turn up no shortage of finished Hourglass sweaters whose necklines turned out too wide. My sister warned me about this possibility as well, as she had made this piece last winter, so I took this to heart and worked a few more raglan decreases along the yoke. I also spaced out a few of the decreases 2 rows apart instead of just 1 row apart, since my row gauge was coming out a bit tighter than what the pattern intended (this is so rare for me as to be almost unbelievable, usually I have looser row gauge than whatever the pattern wants).

However, in the larger sizes it seems as though the opposite approach is required – that working a few decreases more often would result in a better fit. So, your mileage may vary.

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In the book this is identified as a ‘More than twelve hours’ project, which I would laughingly label an “understatement”. Although it is a fairly quick knit as far as sweaters are concerned, it’d have a hard time fitting this into a weekend. All in all I think I even managed the bulk of the work in about 2.5 weeks, but then was stalled at the end by going away on a trip and then getting side-tracked. The finishing is quite minimal as it is worked all in the round, so once you’ve done the knitting, all that remains is a bit of sewing up hems and the underarms.

This is going to be my ‘backup’ Rhinebeck sweater in case of disappointment with my intended Rhinebeck project. I’ll get to that one next post!

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Filed under finished object: sweater, sweaters