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 from the Winter: Fuse Cardigan, Pentagon Aran Pullover, Phyllo Yoked Pullover, Kaari redux

Spring cleaning continues, and I am finally documenting the sweaters I finished months ago:

Fuse Cardigan

Fuse Cardigan

Pattern: Fuse Cardigan, by Veronik Avery, from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People Vol. 2, Winter 2012.

Yarn:  Woolen spun sport weight Cormo yarn from Elsa Wool Company, in medium grey.

Modifications:  It was a somewhat complex pattern from the shaping point of view, so I think the only thing I did was do the usual tweaks related to my short stature.

Thoughts:  It is a really interesting design, and I appreciate the fact that the cardigan looks good with the neckline draped as well as undraped!

Pattern:  Pentagon Aran Pullover, by Norah Gaughan, from Knitting Nature.

Yarn:  A merino wool-silk-cashmere yarn from Lambspun of Colorado, in clary sage.  I bought this yarn years ago and in December recycled it from another Norah Gaughan sweater.  It has held up very well.

Modifications:  I made the collar shorter, and changed the sleeves to top-down inset sleeves instead of drop-shoulder sleeves.

Thoughts:  Norah Gaughan rules!  Knitting Nature has some of Norah Gaughan’s best designs; having said that, I really have to squint to see the pentagons . . . .  Still, a great pattern that is a cool alternative to traditional arans.

Phyllo Yoked Pullover

Pattern:  Phyllo Yoked Pullover, by Norah Gaughan, from Knitting Nature.

Yarn:  Rowan Calmer, in mandarin (discontinued).  I confess, I bought the yarn because of the Rowan mystique, and because the fiber makeup of Calmer intrigued me.  The yarn was on closeout, so it was cheap . . . .  but it was orange.  No getting around it, it looks like orange sherbet.  But, the yarn worked perfectly for the pullover, and surprisingly enough, I actually look good in orange!

Modifications:  I shaped the waist, shortened the sleeves, changed the depth of the phyllo lattice, and made the neckline smaller so it wouldn’t fall off my shoulders.  Never did like the 80s off-shoulder thing . . . .

Thoughts:  To this day, I am not convinced that the phyllo yoke pattern works as presented in the book.

Kaari, redux

Pattern:  Kaari, by Norah Gaughan, from Berroco: Norah Gaughan Vol. 1

Yarn:  Handspun, undyed yarn from Lambspun of Colorado.  As with most of my projects these days, the yarn was recycled from another sweater.

Modifications:  I knitted the pullover in the round (I thought the yarn would be sturdy enough not to need seams for structure), and picked up the stitches for the pocket band from bottom and attached it next to the side seam (rather than sewn into the seam).  I didn’t like the curl at the top of the pockets, so did a few rows of seed stitch.  I also wanted to make the neck line narrower, but obviously did not succeed.

Thoughts:  This version of Kaari is more successful than version one, which got recycled into Freija.  I wish the neck were narrower, but other than that, I like the pullover, and the rusticity of the handspun wool is perfect for the whole conception of the sweater.

Knitting at the End of Winter: Moire (Skirt) Dress

Moiré Dress

Pattern: Based on the Moiré Skirt, from Norah Gaughan’s Knitting Nature: 39 Designs Inspired by Patterns in Nature. When I first saw the skirt, I was unimpressed: I just could not see the moiré because of the busy yarn (Berroco Zen) Norah Gaughan had chosen.  Then I saw the skirt on Ravelry, done in a smooth yarn, and I could finally see the beautiful “interference” pattern.

Yarn: Woolen-spun, 2-ply, worsted weight cormo from Elsa Wool Company, in medium grey.  A lovely, rustic but soft yarn from an independent producer in Bayfield, Colorado.  Someday I am going to do a road trip to that corner of the state.

Modifications: It is part of my continuing obsession with knitted dresses . . . .  The skirt part is unmodified except that I knitted it in the round, did the waist in a 2 x 2 rib in a sage-colored yarn left over from another project, and winged the bodice and sleeves.  The sleeves were picked up from the top and knitted downwards, the caps shaped via short rows.  And because I did not calculate the sleeve shaping, they are roomier than they need to be.

Thoughts: Norah Gaughan’s interpretation of the moiré concept makes for a truly unique cable pattern.  Hurray for knitting geeks!

Ogee Tunic

Ogee Tunic turned into dress: modified from Ogee Tunic, pattern by Norah Gaughan

Ogee Tunic turned into dress: modified from Ogee Tunic, pattern by Norah Gaughan

Yet another knitting post!

Norah Gaughan must be one of the original knitting geeks; her designs are inspired, and inspiring.  A few years ago she produced Knitting Nature, which drew on her background in biology (evolution and ecology emphasis).  The Ogee Tunic is her take on the concept of fractals in nature.

Yarn: Another hoarded yarn from Lambspun of Colorado, this time a merino/silk worsted weight blend, in the color “barn red.”

Gauge: It is what it is …

Size: Improvised.

Modifications: I used a heavier weight yarn because I wanted to “blow up” the ogee motif.  Now, Norah Gaughan called her original a tunic, but I think it was too short to be a proper tunic.  My version evolved (this is knit-speak for knitting-on -the-fly) into a long tunic/dress as I went along — I was imagining a knitted version of the  beautiful  salwar kameez DH bought for me in India.  I casted on many stitches for the skirt, then did a bunch of shaping so the skirt would drape better, added the open-work part of the ogee pattern to the back, and used a Norwegian clasp for neck closure.

And in the end: Perhaps a little large, but I comfort myself with the thought that a kameez can be roomy and flowy.