Knitting in the Spring: Freja

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Freja

Pattern:  Freja, from Brooklyn Tweed, designed by Jared Flood.

Yarn:  Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK.  I recycled the yarn from the Norah Gaughan Tweedy Aran Cardigan  I knitted about 10 years ago.  I loved the pattern, but I just didn’t wear the sweater enough to justify not reusing the yarn.

Modifications:  Because of the DK-weight yarn, I knitted somewhere between size 43 and 47 to have about 6″ ease, and made the jacket longer to cover my hips.  I didn’t see the point of the side shaping at the bottom (the increase, then the decrease), so I didn’t do them.

I didn’t like the collar seam at the back of the neck, so I reworked the pattern just to eliminate that one seam:

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Freja collar

I started with a provisional cast-on for one side of the collar extension, worked it long enough for 1/2 of required neck width, then worked the other side of the collar extension using the stitches from the provisional cast-on.  With the back neck now wide enough, the collar extensions were placed on hold, then I picked up the required number of stitches from the neck to work the back piece from top down, casting on the shoulder stitches as I went.  All neck and shoulder shaping were via short rows.  When the armscye depths were achieved, the back stitches were put on hold, and I started on the two front pieces.  I picked up the front panels from the back shoulders and joined the stitches to the collar extensions that were on hold, and knitted each front piece from top down.  When armscye depths were same as the back, I joined the fronts and back on a circular needle to eliminate the side seams.

I don’t like patch pockets, so the two pockets were knitted in, with the pocket lining stitches knitted together with the pocket fronts at the bottom, one row before start of bottom band.  I then had two seams per pocket to sew instead of three.  The pockets are deeper than specified so that whatever I put in them will actually stay in there.

Thoughts:  I enjoy the whole Brooklyn Tweed aesthetics, and this Jared Flood pattern is  the epitome of BT design:  pared down, stylish, and very wearable.  Perhaps I lose some “stability” with my modifications, but the truth is that I am a process knitter, and most of my finished sweaters never get more than two or three wearings per year.  I can almost imagine knitting this cardigan again, with elbow-length sleeves and openwork lapels.

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Knitting in the Winter: Fly and Watermark

The older I get, the more I appreciate the comforts of a cardigan.  In fact, the one item of clothing I wear almost everyday is a slop-around-the-house cardigan — and it is also the only knitted item in my wardrobe that I did NOT make.  It belonged to Mom, and is one of three in different colors that she rotated  as her house sweater.  It is several sizes too big, it isn’t wool, but I love its utilitarian shapelessness.  I look like Mom wearing it.

And then there are the cardigans I knit for my self . . .

Fly

Pattern:  No actual pattern — I call it Fly because I knitted it on the fly 🙂  The bottom band is a reversible cable from Lynn Barr’s Reversible Knitting: 50 Brand-New, Groundbreaking Stitch Patterns.  

Yarn:  The black yarn is a Lambspun of Colorado DK-weight merino/silk/cashmere blend in the color “black platinum.”  After frogging the original sweater coat, I used the yarn for the Dickson dress, and now for Fly.  I still have leftover yarn.  The yarn had color variations clearly visible on right sleeve cuff and across the upper back.  I don’t mind.

The red yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed DK, in the color “rage.”  The yarn was left over from Red Knight.

Thoughts:  My long-term goal is to use up my yarn stash before I die.  The Graduate Student doesn’t knit, and I don’t know that she will ever pick it up.  So . . .  I just wanted to use up odd balls of yarn, and I didn’t want to knit hats or scarves.  This little cardigan did not require planning; it was truly one of those “cast on and stop when finished” sort of a project.  I don’t do gauge swatches, and this project was no exception.  I knitted the reversible cable first, then picked up the body stitches from the cable, leaving room on the cable ends for the front bands that I would pick up later and seam to the body.  The armscye and neck shaping were guesstimated — I wanted somewhat fitted sleeves, and a neckline somewhere between crew and scoop.  In the end I decided not to have buttons, so the ribbed bands are on the narrow side.

The project was uncomplicated, the black and red combination turned out well, and most important, the cardigan fits!

Watermark

Pattern:  Watermark by Jared Flood, from Brooklyn Tweed BT Winter 19.  It was love at first sight!

Yarn:  Elsawool woolen-spun worsted-weight cormo yarn in “40% medium grey.”  This yarn was recycled from the Moire Dress I knitted 10 years ago.  The dress did not fit well through the shoulders and upper arms (I wasn’t as good at knitting on the fly back then), so I only wore it a couple of times before finally frogging it last summer.

Modifications:  I don’t like patch pockets, so I made “knitted-in” pockets instead.  I also thought I was going to run of yarn, so the pocket linings are in two different yarns (hooray for using up more scrap yarn).  I knitted the sleeves on top-down using short row shaping, and also used short rows for the shoulders to create a smooth slope for sewing the shoulders seams.  The left cuff is in a different yarn — not because I ran out of yarn, but just because I felt like it.

Thoughts:   This was an uncomplicated knit without unnecessary fiddly bits.  The pattern is truly striking with a touch of masculinity, and the designer didn’t give it a silly/random Gaelic name.  I don’t have the right body type for this cardigan, but I don’t really care.  It wears well.

Knitting in the Winter: Trailhead

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Trailhead cardigan

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Pattern:  Trailhead, by Veronik Avery, from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2015.

Yarn:  The yarn was a worsted weight Lambspun merino/silk blend in the color “barn red,” reclaimed from the Ogee Tunic  that I knitted back in 2009.  As pretty as the tunic was, I did not wear it.  Then I got smaller, but the tunic didn’t . . .  The yarn had dye variations (see picture #3) that I apparently did not notice in 2009.

The old lady buttons came from Mom’s stash; she had eight buttons, so I was able to use the extra one so that I have an alternative way to wear the collar.

Modifications:  Being a short woman, the cardigan turned into more of a coat on me, not a bad thing at all since it covers my hips completely and the pockets ended up at a comfortable and useful height.  I did make adjustments to the sleeve lengths as well as raglan depths and the shoulder darts so that the shoulder girdle fit properly.

Thoughts:  Clever patterns require a lot of directions, and in typical BT fashion, this pattern was quite long.  However, I do think it was overkill to include detailed directions on how to wash and block . . .  I like the tailoring details for the shoulder; I know some knitters didn’t like how high the raglan lines are in the front, but I think they look fine.  The arms are also more fitted than I would have thought given the relaxed fit of the rest of the cardigan.  It’s a design choice that I personally would not have made, but I went with it and ultimately I think it does work for this particular jacket.  I have knitted quite a few Veronik Avery designs in the past and always appreciate her attention to details.

Knitting for the Winter: St. Brigid

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St. Brigid tunic

Pattern:   St. Brigid by Alice Starmore, from the original 1997 edition.

Yarn:  Malabrigo, worsted weight, in “shocking pink.”  I bought a 10-pack from a fellow Raveler, hoarded it for close to a decade, and finally decided that St. Brigid was a worthy project.  Being kettle-dyed, there are colour variations that resulted in a band of darker pink across the lower chest.  Oh well.

Modifications:  The original pattern called for Alice Starmore’s Scottish Heather (a DK weight yarn) knitted up into a very generous 45 (or 48) inch pullover.  So, modifications included decreasing the number of cable patterns across to finish at around 38 inches, but the same number of vertical repeats because I wanted to make a tunic.  I didn’t use Chart A, but substituted 2 x 3 ribs at the sides of body and sleeves.  I think the ribs made for easier and neater increases and decreases.  The sleeves were meant to be 3/4, but stretched with blocking to wrist length.  I didn’t want the original collar (I think it is overwhelming), so I made the neck opening square, framed with simple 3 x 3 cables.  I made the body slightly A-line with increases “hidden” within the purl stitches between individual cables.  Finally, I knitted the tunic top-down in-the-round.

Thoughts:  My all-time favorite cable pattern!  She-whose-name-must-not-be-spoken is THE master.

Knitting for the Spring: Gaia

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Gaia, version 2

Back in the days of print patterns, I used to collect knitting books.  I have original first editions of Alice Starmore books, including ones that have never gone back into print.  I did not realize how expensive those Starmore books were until I traded one for a couple thousand yards of her iconic Scottish Fleet yarn.  Anyway, in my knitting library I also had a couple of books by Jean Moss.  I remember buying Sculptured Knits because I loved the cover:

sculptured knits

This was back in 1999, and over the next few years I knitted (or rather, started) many patterns from the book, but never the Lautrec Bolero from the cover.  Gaia was one of three projects I managed to start AND finish, and I loved it.  I knitted it in a hand-spun undyed wool, and wore it for years before I decided I needed the yarn for something else.

About a month ago, as part of addressing the issue of overcrowding in my yarn cabinets, I found the Cable-Down Raglan by Stefanie Japel.  I must have knitted the pullover about 10 years ago, but I have no clear memory of this sweater.  Except for this one work, I can look at all my other projects and tell you about the pattern, the knitting process, the changes, and the yarn.  l don’t know what happened . . . .

Pattern:  Gaia, from Sculptured Knits: 48 Timely Designs Inspired by the Decorative Arts of the 20th Century.  

Yarn:  Unknown DK-weight tweedy merino wool yarn.

Modifications:  I modified the pattern to knit seamlessly from top down, with the sleeves picked up from the top and caps shaped via short rows.  The front bands were knitted on as I went, with regular short rows to make sure the bands didn’t flare.  The original cardigan had a soft point collar, but I don’t like collars in general, so no collar here.  The sleeves were supposed to be full-length, but since I did not have enough yarn, they became three-quarter.  The bottom band is knitted from leftover kid mohair/silk yarn from another project; I like the contrast of colours and texture.

Thoughts:  I love this version of Gaia!  One thing I did that I did not do on the first Gaia is keep the small pockets set into the bottom band.  I never understood the concept of teeny tiny non-functional pockets, but these days I think any pocket is a good pocket.  I made these bigger than the pattern pockets, and they will in fact fit my mobile phone, credit card, and some change.  Finally, about the Little Old Lady buttons: Mom, like Moms of her generation everywhere, left behind a big collection of buttons.  These buttons came from her hoard, and I love them on this cardigan.

Knitting in the Winter: Manzanilla

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Manzanilla

Pattern:   Manzanilla by Joji Locatelli, from her Authentic Collection.

Yarn: A merino/silk/cashmere blend yarn from Lambspun of Colorado.  This yarn has been many projects, including Rosamund’s Cardigan and Silver Belle.  I had hoarded so much of this yarn that I was able to make the Wisteria dress as well as this pullover.

Modifications:  I used a DK weight yarn because I find worsted weight to be too heavy for wear.  Since I am still on the tunic kick, I gave the body A-line shape and lengthened it a couple of inches.  I also made the back a tad longer and gave it a slight curve with short-row shaping.  Instead of grafting the sleeve seams, I used a three-needle bind off.  And, not obvious in the photo, I sewed a button at the top of each side hem to stabilize the split hem.  Finally, I widened the width between the garter ridges progressively from top to bottom.  

Thoughts:  I just love this sweater!  When it came off the needle, the sleeves were quite snug, but I was able to open things up with a bit of judicious blocking.  Joji Locatelli designs lovely, minimalistic sweaters, and her experiments in construction produce clothing that are actually wearable.

Knitting in the Fall: Bedford Redux

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Bedford

Pattern:   Bedford by Michele Wang, from Brooklyn Tweed Fall 2011

Yarn:  About 10 years ago I went to a wool market and got sucked into buying this hand-dyed silk and kid mohair yarn. The yarn was absolutely gorgeous, and I had visions of knitting something luxuriously fabulous with it.  It didn’t matter at the time that I really dislike mohair.  I really thought if I had just the right project, I would LOVE mohair.  It never happened.  The yarn became three different sweaters, and this is the fourth and final incarnation, because of course mohair should not be frogged, ever, let alone three times.

Modifications:  This is the second version of Bedford; I didn’t wear the first version  because while there wasn’t anything wrong with it, it was just a tad too thin to wear a shirt underneath.  And at some point I needed the yarn for a new version of Bryn Mawr dress . . . .  For this Bedford, I knitted the raglan two stitches wide instead of four, made the body longer and the sleeves shorter.

Thoughts:  For such a detailed (over-written, as I think BT patterns tend to be), the directions for the neck shaping doesn’t work.  It is a good thing that I haven’t followed neck or sleeve instructions — for ANY pattern — for at least a couple of decades, mainly because I am a small woman and I routinely modify patterns to suit my dimensions and preferences.  But back to the instructions:  Michele Wang really should have done a better editing job with the directions for neck shaping.  Her buyers, and Brooklyn Tweed  fans in general, deserve better.

As for the finished sweater . . . .  I don’t love variegated yarn, I don’t love mohair, so I am pretty sure I will not be wearing this top much.  On the other hand, I do like how the sleeves turned out:  even though I also don’t like reverse stocking stitch in general, the purl fabric works well for this variegated yarn.  Maybe some day, someone will see me wearing this sweater and love it so much that I will just give it to her!