Knitting in the Fall: Cascata



Pattern:  Cascata, by Filipa Carneiro, published in Rosarios4.

Yarn:  I believe the yarn is by Reynolds.  It is a light DK weight wool and acrylic blend yarn I bought sometime in the mid-1980s.  Mom loved mauve (and all its variations), so I knitted a lacy vest for her.  She did not wear it much because it was too nice for “everyday” wear, and she didn’t want to get it dirty.  I brought it back after she died and took it apart, and now it is Cascata.

Modifications:  I love the lace “cascade” on the left side, but did not like how rapidly the triangle grew because of the every 4th row increases.  So, I alternated the increases on both the lace panel as well as on the right (along the faux seam).  I like my sweaters to cover my hips, so I knitted all 138 rows of the lace charts.  I also started with 138 stitches at the top, as though knitting size XXS, and adjusted all the directions as needed to compensate.  Finally, I did not like how large the arm holes were on the original cap sleeves.  I had enough yarn, so I made the sleeves elbow length.

Thoughts:  I don’t usually like in-the-round yoke construction, but the designer took care to shape the neckline so that there were no “puffy” areas, and the front and the back sit properly on the neck and shoulders.  I also like the yo increases as a design element.  This was a fast knit, and a lovely pattern for Mom’s yarn.



Bear is a sweet guinea pig we have been babysitting for almost a month while his family flit here and there all over the world.  We would keep him, but his mom probably misses him!

Knitting for the Winter: St. Brigid

St. Brigid.1

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


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: Dresses for the Winter


Wisteria dress

Years ago, I knitted the Wisteria in its original sweater form:

It was beautiful, but the yarn I used was wrong for the project.  It was too soft, the sweater grew, and I never wore it.  I finally frogged it this past spring, and a couple of weeks ago I decided to reknit Wisteria as a dress.

Pattern:  Wisteria, by Kate Gilbert, from Twist Collective Fall 2008.

Yarn:  A DK weight merino/cashmere/silk yarn from Lambspun of Colorado.  This yarn has been a few projects and has held up beautifully over the years.

Modifications:  The pattern converts into a dress without fuss.  I added some bodice darts at the back to prevent “poofing” under the yoke, added darts in front and back (along with those at the sides) for smoother skirt increases, and shortened the sleeves to 3/4 length.

Thoughts:  The yarn was perfect for this project; it is light, and the dress conforms without clinging.

Bryn Mawr2.1

Bryn Mawr dress, version 2

I knitted my first Bryn Mawr dress also with the wrong sort of yarn:

Again, the yarn was too soft, and the dress was incredibly clingy and picked up static like crazy.  But I loved the pattern, so I reknitted the sweater this past spring.

Pattern:  Bryn Mawr dress, by Alex Capshaw-Taylor, from Interweave Knits Fall 2013

Yarn:  Sport weight mule-spun Elsawool in undyed medium grey.  This is a cormo wool, and I love it as much (if not more) than merino wool.

Modifications:  I opened up the neckline, and did not bother with the skirt hem.  I knitted the sleeves on from the top using short rows to shape the caps.

Thoughts:  The pattern was as fun to knit this time around as last time.  More important, the dress fits well without cling, and the cables still show up even with the darker yarn.

Knitting for the Winter: Koto



Pattern:  Koto, by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, available from

Yarn:  Umpteenth recycling of a worsted weight yarn from Beaverslide yarn.  Each time I reuse this yarn I tell myself it is the final incarnation.  Maybe.

Modifications:  I reduced the number of stitches — who can actually carry off a size small at 45″?  As it is, it is still a tad too big and the sleeves too long, so there is that Michelin Man thing going with the sleeves.  If I were more industrious, I would unravel the sleeves (which I was clever enough to pick up and knit downward from the top) and make them an inch shorter, but that probably isn’t going to happen

I also used my usual tried-and-true method of short row wraps.  I tried out the “shadow wrap method,” and while I understand the idea behind it and its application in sock knitting, I think it is overkill for this particular pattern.  Perhaps if I had used a smooth yarn, the shadow wrap method would have been more appropriate.  The Beaverslide yarn I used is rustic with a certain amount of thick-and-thin, and the shadow wrap did not produce a particularly neat finish.

Thoughts:  This was an interesting knit: I love the construction and the cool retro-future feel of the finished sweater.  I also liked the fact that the name of the pullover actually makes sense: I see the Japanese-inspired simplicity and elegance of shape, and of course I see the strings of the koto in the articulated ribbing design.  One of my pet peeves is the randomness of names assigned to patterns; I want to see a connection, I want to see the inspiration.  I recently came across a series of patterns from Carol Feller named after the seven hills of Rome.  I did my best, but I just could not see the connection between names and designs, although I appreciated the fact that she at least went for a Latin rather than yet another Gaelic word.

As with many recent patterns, I think Koto was over-written.  This may be good for novice knitters, but it was surprisingly irritating for old hands.  And while I am being grumpy . . . .  If you (that would be you, the designer) know that what you are calling the Joinery Bind Off is in fact “commonly known as the ‘Three Needle Bind Off,'” then why not just call it that?

All complaints aside, Koto is a wonderful design, and if a friend wanted one for herself, I would be happy to knit it again.

Knitting in the Spring: 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 Winter: Red Knight (aka Indigo)

Pattern:  A cross between Indigo, from Japanese Inspired Knits by Marianne Isager, and Spanish Knight, from A Collector’s Item by Jade Starmore.  I liked the shape of the jacket, but didn’t want to die of boredom while knitting miles of stockinette stitch, and I had always liked the stitch pattern of Spanish Knight.

Yarn:  Rowan Felted Tweed, in color “Rage.”

Modifications:  Rowan Felted Tweed was of course completely different (smaller) gauge from the specified yarns, but I used the directions for the smallest size and ended up with a jacket that is proportioned just right for my petite frame.  I also made the sleeves full length.

Thoughts:  I love the quiet Spanish Knight cable pattern in the tweed yarn.  Not that I’ll ever do this again, but I should have modified the collar so that it drops less in the front.  I enjoyed knitting this jacket, and love Rowan Felted Tweed — despite the yardage required, the jacket is light but still warm to wear.