Knitting in the Winter: Trailhead

Trailhead.1

Trailhead cardigan

trailhead-2.jpg

Trailhead.6

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.

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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

Bedford2.3

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!

Knitting in the Fall: Svalbard Redux

Svalbard.2.1

Svalbard

Svalbard.2.2

Svalbard

Pattern:   Svalbard, by Bristol Ivy, from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People 6.

Yarn:  Laramie, a hand-dyed merino wool in worsted weight from Mountain Meadow Wool (Buffalo, Wyoming), in color Prairie.  The yarn is rustic but soft, in a color that is outside my comfort zone — but the ladies at the yarn shop convinced me that it goes with my complexion . . . .

Modifications:  I knitted this cardigan a few years ago but never liked the Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool yarn: it had almost no memory and was unaccountably itchy around the neck.  Svalbard 1 became one of the few sweaters I never frogged, and I gave it away without regret.  But I liked the pattern itself, hence Svalbard 2.  The only modifications I made were shorter sleeves.

Thoughts:  It was a fun knit four years ago, and it was a fun knit this time around.  I like this version much better, I even like the colour!  It is a big long on me, but now that I am solidly middle-aged, coverage is a good thing.

Knitting in the Fall: Stonecutter


Stonecutter1

Stonecutter

Stonecutter3

Pattern:  Stonecutter by Michele Wang, from BT Fall 2013.

Yarn:  Merino wool/silk/cashmere blend yarn from Lambspun.  I recycled the yarn from a cardigan I knitted for Mom about 10 years ago.  Green was her favorite color, and though she loved the cardigan, she didn’t wear it much because she thought it too nice for everyday wear.  I found it neatly stored away in her closet, brought it home, took it apart, and waited for inspiration to strike.

Modifications:  I made it pretty much according to pattern but with usual adjustments for length of sleeves.  The sweater grew with blocking, but I don’t mind the extra room.

Thoughts:  I like Michele Wang’s patterns; she does interesting designs that are aesthetically pleasing and fun to knit.  Having said that, today’s knitters seem to expect over-written patterns, and this one is no exception.  I continue to be surprised by 16 pages of instruction:  does anyone really need 4 paragraphs on how to wash and block knitting?

On to specifics:  I also continue to be surprised by many knitters’ enthusiasm for the tubular cast on, particularly the perception that the tubular cast on gives a sweater a more “professional” finish.  I have not seen too many hand-knit sweaters where the tubular cast on looked truly polished, and the model for this pattern is NOT one of them.  The cast on looks very bulbous to me and does not flow into the ribbing.  Obviously, the cast on is a design choice, and I prefer the traditional long-tail cast on for an edge that is flexible, clean, and does not draw attention to itself.

The designer also spent too much bandwidth on the selvedge:  I personally do not find the “wrapped chain stitch selvedge” particularly neat or structured.  In my experience, careful sewing together of edges can correct pretty much any minor imperfections in the knitted flat pieces.  This is another area, as with the cast on, that knitters should be able to figure out on their own.

Finally, I must comment on the Elizabeth Zimmerman “sewn bind off” recommended by Michele Wang.  Clearly I did not use this method:  it is fiddly, and for this particular neckline, unwarranted.  The usual bind off gives a neat and flexible finish that disappears into the gentle roll of the reverse stockinette neckband.

I am not against designers having their personal preferences, but there are many knitters tackling these patterns who are not experienced, and who may think that because a designer says to do this or that, that these methods are in fact the best.  The best, of course, is whatever works and produces the result desired.

Knitted for the Fall: Nora’s Sweater

Nora's Sweater

Nora’s Sweater

Nora's Sweater, back view

Nora’s Sweater, back view

Pattern:  Nora’s Sweater, by Pam Powers, from Interweave Knits Winter 2009.

Yarn:  Beaverslide Yarn 100% worsted-weight  lambswool, in “coralbells.”  This yarn was recycled from the Winter Wonderland coat I knitted in 2010 but never wore.  And of course the Winter Wonderland coat was recycled from Sylvi, which I also never wore.  Good thing Beaverslide yarns are pretty sturdy!

Modifications:  I tried to minimize the number of seams, so I think what I did was I knitted the back cable panel first, then picked up stitches for the sideways construction of the sleeves.  I knitted the pleats together during cast off so that I would have just two layers to sew through when attaching the bottom part of the jacket to the top.  The front borders were knitted as part of the front pieces, and sewn to the bodice where the borders form the collar.

Thoughts:  The jacket was interesting to knit, but it is definitely not a universally flattering design.  The pleats are cool, but they add quite a bit of bulk.  This coat should be worn by someone tall and slim; I am short and lean, and this sweater just overwhelms my small frame.

Knitting for a Friend: Winter Wonderland Coat

Because she really wanted one, in pink:

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland, side view

Winter Wonderland, side view

Winter Wonderland, back view

Winter Wonderland, back view

Pattern:  Winter Wonderland Coat, from Inspired to Knit by Michele Rose Orne.

Yarn:  Cascade 220, in cotton candy pink!

Modifications:  I knitted this coat for myself a few years ago out of Beaverslide yarn, but never wore it.  It really is a coat for someone much taller, and fortunately for my friend, she is at least 8 inches taller, and slender to boot.  I more or less followed the directions last time around, but there were things I should have done differently — and I got to do them this time.  I knitted the skirt — fronts, back, button bands, and side godets — all in one piece.  The bodice was knitted in separate pieces so that I could have side seams to provide some support for the coat.  The shoulders were bound off together pretty tightly using three-needle bind-off, and the sleeves were knitted on with short-row shaping for caps.  It annoyed me before having to knit the collar separately, so this time I rewrote the directions to pick up stitches from the bound-off neckline.  As before, I did not do buttonholes, and used Norwegian clasps for closures.

Thoughts:  The Cascade yarn is lighter than the Beaverslide yarn, and I think it will hold its shape better for such a heavy coat.  I still don’t understand the separate godets — the inserts made the skirt bulge once sewn in, plus the seam line for reverse stockinette never looks good on the “public” side.  I am quite pleased with the elimination of most seams, though I can understand the need for stabilization.  We’ll see what happens when she has worn it a few times 🙂