Knitting in the Winter: Rhapsody in Cables

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Rhapsody in Cables

Pattern:  Rhapsody in Cables, by Joji Locatelli.

Yarn:  Alice Starmore Scottish Fleet, in cream.  I have never worked with this yarn before, and it surprised me by how nicely it bloomed and softened with washing.

Modifications:  Scottish Fleet is a 5 ply gansey yarn, so I knew my gauge would be off.  I guesstimated the third size to get the fit I wanted.  I also wanted the sweater to be tunic length, so I added an extra band to the front bottom, a zigzag cable pattern that I think works well within the context of the over all design.  I also have a fear of cling, so I added some shaping stitches in the back to give the tunic a slight A-line.

Thoughts:  I love Joji Locatelli’s aesthetics.  Many designers try new approaches to sweater construction that are intriguing on paper and interesting to knit, but the end product frequently have zero wearability (I am thinking in particular of this bolero by Norah Gaughan).  This tunic has a very simple silhouette, and Joji Locatelli could have stuck to a fairly conventional construction method, but she chose to do something different — and it was a delightful knit.

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Knitting in the Spring: Arabella

Arabella

Pattern:  Arabella, by Ann McCauley, from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People 7.

Yarn:  Kiwi Wool in cream, a DK weight yarn from Lambspun.  I bought this yarn many years ago in both undyed and the cream colors.  This incredibly soft yarn that has held up well through various recycling projects.

Modifications:  I adjusted the gauge for a thinner yarn, but other than that, I made the sweater pretty much according to pattern.  As usual, I picked up stitches for the sleeves and knitted them from top down (because I really hate sewing in sleeves) and made them shorter than specified.  I also winged the collar; even with proportional adjustments for the gauge, I picked up fewer stitches than the math indicated.

Thoughts:  I love the swing shape of the tunic, although I am not enamoured of the squared-off shape of the split hem.  If I were to knit this again I would start the decrease of the sides from the bottom rather than wait until after the side seams are joined.  The sweater is simple and elegant.

Knitting for the Fall: Vortex Street Pullover, Bryn Mawr Dress, Halliard

A few knitting projects from the summer!

Vortex Street tunic dress
Vortex Street tunic dress

Pattern:  Vortex Street Pullover, from Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan.

Yarn:  In 2010, I made the uninspiringly named Drops 103-14 cardigan.  The sport weight yarn is from Marr Haven, in “burgundy heather.”  I thought the Drops sweater would be the final incarnation for the yarn, but of course I was wrong.  Even though the yarn came off a cone, you can see the distinct colour variation, quite obvious on the yoke.  Oh well.

Modifications:  Change the yarn weight, change the pattern!  I could not understand why Norah Gaughan knitted the pullover in pieces — if any pattern should be knit in the round, this is it!  So, I knitted the tunic from top down, in the round, got rid of the floppy turtleneck and changed the size of the neck opening, shaped the sleeves and body (because no one, including the skinny model, looks good in floppy tubes), and added an extra “vortex” cable at the hem end to compensate for the smaller gauge and the added length of the dress.  Also, the directions for shaping the yoke just did not work for me; as written, it resulted in a “pouch” at the upper back, which would have been great if I have a hump . . . .  Anyway, I fiddled around with the shaping for the back, and now it lies nice and flat.

Thoughts:  I love Norah Gaughan, but sometimes her designs just do not work.  The original pattern is, IMHO, one of those designs.  The neckline allowance was so big that no amount of ribbing was going to bring it in enough to make an attractive turtleneck; the armscye as written would have drooped lower than the bust; and of course, the aforementioned pieced construction for the pullover (and the excuse for that sounded pretty lame to boot) just made no sense. Having said all that, the vortex cable pattern was pure fabulous Norah!

Bryn Mawr Dress
Bryn Mawr Dress

Pattern:  From Interweave Knits Fall 2013, the Bryn Mawr Dress by Alex Capshaw Taylor.

Yarn:  Undyed light DK/sport weight Kiwi Wool yarn, left over from the Alpaka Tunic I knitted in 2010.  It was already a recycled yarn at that point . . . .  The yarn is very soft and wonderful next to the skin, but I am going to have to figure out what to wear underneath it, since the skirt clings terribly with tights.

Modifications:  Short woman = modifications!  I shortened the skirt by one pattern repeat, shortened the bodice, and did not do the sewn-down hem because I did not like how it looked.  The pink band at the bottom is just stockinette left to roll naturally.  I also did not like the original neckline — it seemed neither here nor there, not quite crew, not quite turtleneck, so I opened it up to suit my neck and face.  The sleeves were knitted on from top down, using short row shaping for the cap.

Thoughts:  I don’t like reverse stockinette — it always looks a bit unfinished on the “right” side, and seams always come out sloppy.  But, this design won me over, so I knitted it as written.  I’m still not crazy about the reverse stockinette, but the lovely twist stitch cables make the background recede, so I am very pleased with the over all “look” of the dress.  I also liked the clever shaping achieved within the cable pattern — subtle and well-done!  I also usually knit for positive ease; this dress is the lone exception in my hand-knit wardrobe.  I made the smallest size, and the bodice is just about an inch negative.  This is the “sexy secretary” sweater dress, but still appropriate for this 50-something woman 🙂

Halliard pullover
Halliard pullover
. . . . and Tula!
. . . . and Tula!

Pattern: From Twist Collective Winter 2010, Halliard by the talented Kate Gilbert.

Yarn:  Worsted weight Malabrigo yarn, in “glazed carrot.”  It will probably pill like crazy, but I don’t care 🙂

Modifications:  I like the idea of the knitted-on I-cord, but to me it just looked sloppy at the joins.  I substituted garter stitch for body and arm bands, and I like the results much better.  I did not do the kangaroo pocket: not many women can carry that off without looking distinctly paunchy.

Thoughts: I love the elegant design of the side cables running down from the neck and raglan sleeves and joining again into the sides of the body.  This is a simple but distinctive pullover, and was a joy to knit.

Knitting in the Winter: Alpaka Tunic

Alpaka Tunic

Pattern: Alpaka Tunic, design by Deborah Newton, from Interweave Knits (Fall 2009)

Yarn: Undyed DK/sport weight merino wool yarn from Kiwi Wool, bought at Lambspun of Colorado many years ago.  I recycled this yarn from DH’s sweater — and since I knitted the original sweater with the yarn doubled, I now have enough yarn for another project.  The yarn is incredibly soft and drapes beautifully; it is the closest thing to cashmere I have ever worked with.  And like cashmere, if you just look at it wrong it pills …

Modifications: I used 6 and 7 needles and a mix of directions for the two smallest sizes  to end up with a tunic that is about 48″ at the hem and ~36″ at bust.  Substituted two rows of seed stitch at neck and sleeve ends, picked up stitches and used short rows to knit on the sleeves, and picked up fewer stitches around the neck to make the opening smaller.

Other thoughts: This was a simple but well-planned pattern, a somewhat mindless but enjoyable project.  It is feminine and pretty, but because of its shape, I think it tends to make everyone look pregnant.

Knitting for the Winter: Sylvi, Frost Jacket

Sylvi, by Mari Muinonen
Sylvi, by Mari Muinonen

Pattern: Sylvi, by Mari Muinonen, from Twist Collective (Winter, 2008).

Yarn: Beaverslide Yarn, 100% lambswool in color “coralbells.”

Modifications:  I didn’t want a coat, because I would never wear it, but I thought a short-sleeved tunic (with a long-sleeved shirt under) would be great for wearing inside the house in the winter, when I tend to have the temperature set around 60 degrees.

Because the yarn is lighter-weight than specified, I reworked the chart vertically so that the pattern wouldn’t be compressed.  I ended up casting on the number of stitches for the largest size; in retrospect I probably could have knitted the next size down and still have a fairly roomy sweater.  Oh well.

I also didn’t like the seed stitch background — too busy, I thought — so the background is stockinette, with borders in seed stitch.  The front is plain except for one small vine-with-flower on the lower right.

What is so great: What a terrific way to exit a room!

Frost Jacket, by Norah Gaughan
Frost Jacket, by Norah Gaughan

Pattern:  OK, so it’s no longer a jacket …  Tunic/dress modified from Frost Jacket, from Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan.

Yarn:    Three years ago I discovered the joys of Webs; this heavily-discounted Araucania yarn was among my first purchases from them.  For some reason I had decided that I would expand my color palette into pinks, after having avoided the color for the last 45 years or so …  This is the third incarnation of this particular Araucania Nature Wool yarn.  While it has held up well, it probably shouldn’t be resurrected again.

Modifications:  Araucania Nature Wool is NOT a worsted weight yarn, despite what the manufacturer proclaims.  It knits up closer to a DK yarn, so I think I knitted as though for a size L.  The sleeves came out a little tight, hence the open split at the cuff end.

What is so great:  I love fractals 🙂