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.

Advertisements

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.

Knitting in the Winter: Manzanilla

IMG_3915

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: 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.

Knitting: Dresses for the Winter

Wisteria2.2

Wisteria dress

Years ago, I knitted the Wisteria in its original sweater form: https://opiegp.wordpress.com/2009/05/31/wisteria/

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: https://opiegp.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/knitting-for-the-fall-vortex-street-pullover-bryn-mawr-dress-halliard/

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: Dickson Dress

I love the idea of a knitted skirt, but I don’t wear skirts: they don’t tend to sit in the correct place on my body, they creep up or down and end up everywhere except where they should be.  On the other hand, I have an ongoing love affair with knitted dresses, so when I see interesting patterns, whether for tops or cardigans or skirts, I turn them into dresses.  Hence, the Dickson Dress:

IMG_3564

IMG_3565

 

Pattern:  Dickson, by the wonderful Norah Gaughan.

Yarn:  Lambspun of Colorado DK-weight merino/silk/cashmere blend yarn, in the colour “black platinum.”  At least I think that is the colour name.  I bought the yarn about 15 years ago, and until two years ago, it was a sweater coat.  I did not realize until I started working with the yarn that there were two distinct shades of black.  I know that is the nature of hand-dyed yarn, but nevertheless I was surprised because the owner of Lambspun has always been amazingly careful with her quality control, and I have never had problems with variations within each dye lot.  Anyway, when I frogged the coat I thought I had separated out the two shades, but I was wrong.

Modifications:  This is a top-down dress knitted in the round.  I improvised the V-necked bodice and did my usual knitted-on sleeves with short-row shaped caps.  I didn’t feel like “finishing” the neckline, but I did do two rows of single chain crochet at the back neck (in a pink yarn!) to prevent the dreaded stockinette roll.  The skirt portion is the actual Dickson pattern with not as many rows of ribbing at the top.

Thoughts:  Another winner from Norah Gaughan!  The problem with improvisation is that I never quite know what the garment will look like until I do the final blocking and get it on my body.  I like how the neckline turned out, but the sleeves, which were meant to have a bit of puff, looks a bit wide.  The skirt portion turned out great, pity about the line of color change.  Sigh.  But, I will wear it and I’m sure that shade change will be less obvious when the dress is in motion 🙂

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.