Barn Sweater, “mendfulness” and Taproot 11

Barn Sweater, "mendfulness" and Taproot 11

If you’ve seen this perfect lazy-Saturday sweater design by Carrie Bostick Hoge, the Barn Sweater, and have been wondering where on earth Taproot 11 is, I’m happy to report that it’s now waiting for you at Fringe Supply Co! I got a glance at the sweater and ordered an extra-huge pile of this issue … which then went to California before getting rerouted to Tennessee. My fault. But the important thing is: It’s here now! Of all the Taproot issues so far, this is the one I am most yearning to sit down with for an uninterrupted expanse of time. Among the many great home and skincare potion recipes and knitting and sewing patterns (this time for a Hauschen Doorstop made from old quilts) is an essay on “mendfulness” — such a fantastic word! — by Katrina Rodabaugh (who you may remember from my account of that rather moving “Boro and embroidermending” class I took last spring). It’s a great issue.

I’ve also restocked the bentos, added a smattering of Bookhou large pocket and oblong pouches, and did you get your copy of the new Pom Pom yet?

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Cable amazement of the 1960s-80s

Cable amazement of the 1960s-80s

An exceptionally thoughtful blog reader emailed me the other day to say that she had come into possession of a friend’s grandmother’s collection of vintage knitting publications and that there were some Aran sweater (aka fisherman sweater) booklets in there she wondered if I would like. WOULD I?! Yesterday evening, just as the daylight was waning, I pulled them out of my mailbox — 5 booklets (dozens of patterns) ranging from 1963-1987 — and nearly fainted. I’d give just about anything to be able to republish these patterns (despite every stitch being written out; not a chart in the bunch!) but in lieu of that, I thought I’d show you some of my favorite photos. Pardon the quality, but I couldn’t stand to wait for a better lighting situation/location than the parking lot at dusk.

The last photo below just absolutely kills me. Thank you so much, Catherine!

By the way, while all of this was happening, the Swon Brothers were shooting a music video outside my studio, so I was already swooning a little. Damn, those boys can SING.

Cable amazement of the 1960s-80s

I need to get publication rights for this one so we can all knit it for next year’s #fringeandfriendsknitalong, am I right?

How to knit and measure a cable swatch

After a lot of lead-up and planning, it’s finally time to get this #fringeandfriendsknitalong going! And Kate is here today to do just that, with her thoughts on how to properly knit and measure a cable swatch. If you’re new here, we’re knitting the Amanda cardigan from the book Essentially Feminine Knits. More details here.
—kt

How to knit and measure a cable swatch

BY KATE GAGNON OSBORN

I’m going to assume that, as Fringe Association readers and knitalong participants, you’re all smart cookies and on board with the value of swatching. If you’re not convinced, let me know, and I’ll give you my spiel. (Watch out: It’s long. And determined.)

How to knit and measure a cable swatch

PART ONE: YARN CHOICE

When choosing a yarn for this sweater, there are a few things to keep in mind, most importantly recommended gauge, fiber content, and ply.

The gauge listed in the Amanda sweater pattern is 27.5 sts and 28 rows to 4″ in the honeycomb stitch pattern with Grignasco Loden yarn. Cable patterns “pull in” the stitches — the cable crosses create a scenario where more stitches fit into a smaller space — so the gauge given for a cable pattern may be deceptively smaller than the stockinette-stitch gauge for the same yarn. You can see in the photo above how much narrower the cable swatch is than the stockinette swatch with the same number of stitches. As a result, it is imperative that you A) look at the stitch pattern of the given gauge and B) swatch in order to determine whether your yarn and needle choice is correct. (Your new life mantra: needle size isn’t important; gauge is!) When substituting yarns, the first step is to check the stockinette gauge listed for the recommended yarn, as this will guide you in determining a good substitute. Recommended gauge can be found on the ballband, but if you don’t have a skein available (or, as in the case with Loden, the yarn is discontinued) Ravelry is a wonderful resource, as is the manufacturer’s website. The stockinette gauge for Loden is 18–22 sts over 4″. Start by looking for yarns that have the same recommended gauge when knitted in stockinette.

Then there’s the fiber. Loden is a 2-ply blend of 50% wool, 25% rayon, and 25% alpaca. The wool provides loft, the alpaca warmth and drape, and the rayon drape and strength. You could look for a blend as a substitute, keeping wool as the primary fiber, or go with a 100% wool yarn. Just keep the weight of the fibers in mind — an all-alpaca yarn may have too much weight and drape; mohair and yak in a blend will provide loft; silk adds weight, etc. I also recommend sticking with a plied yarn, as the plies will really make the cables stand out.

I’m knitting my Amanda cardigan with the Fibre Company Savannah. I know it to be a great sweater yarn, and it fulfills all of the properties of Loden, as it is a 2-ply yarn with multiple fibers, is at least 50% wool content, and a DK/light-worsted weight gauge.

How to knit and measure a cable swatch

PART TWO: SWATCHING

If you’ve never knitted with the yarn you’ve chosen, begin swatching with the recommended US8 needles. If you are familiar with your yarn and have a decent idea of how it behaves, feel free to adjust your needle size accordingly from the get-go. (Now is a good time to repeat that mantra: needle size isn’t important, gauge is!) For my swatch, I began on 7s because I’m pretty familiar with Savannah and knew the 8s would be too large. It is also important here to note the needle type you are using – bamboo, metal, etc. — because different needles may give you different gauge. Bamboo can be stickier and may create tighter stitches; metal is slicker and may create larger stitches. So always swatch with the same needle that you will be knitting your garment with.

The Amanda pattern does us a few huge favors when it comes to gauge: 1) there are two different stitch patterns/gauges given, and 2) one of the gauges is over a set number of stitches, not inches, as is typically the case:

• Gauge #1: 27.5 sts + 28 rows = 4″ (10 cm) in honeycomb pattern on larger needles
• Gauge #2: 13 sts of diamond cable = 2.5″ (6.5 cm) wide

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Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

When Anna and I first talked about finding a fisherman cardigan to knit together this fall, I never imagined what it would evolve into. Today I’m thrilled to introduce the group of five amazing women who’ve agreed to knit the Amanda cardigan in the spotlight with us — forming our so-called Panel of Experts — and I’m already in love with this project based on what follows. (Be warned: this post is mammoth so I’ve broken it onto a couple of pages.) To introduce you to the seven of us/them, while also giving you some food for thought with regard to your own Amanda, I’ve asked a few simple questions about the decisions we’ve each made so far. I’ll go first, since that’s my swatch adorning the top of the post, but make sure you click through!

As promised in the big planning post, Kate’s detailed post on how best to swatch for this will be up on Monday! So if you’re at all uncertain about where to start, sit tight, savor this post over the weekend, and we’ll have that for Monday morning.

—kt

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KAREN TEMPLER, of this here blog and Fringe Supply Co. (Instagram: @karentempler)

Yarn: I’m using natural-colored O-Wool Balance, which is a machine-washable blend of 50% organic wool and 50% organic cotton. I love the fabric this yarn creates — very light and soft and multi-seasonal — but I also intend to wear the hell out of this sweater, so I want it to be easy to wash.

Swatch: I knitted the back chart from the right side over to the center braid because I wanted to see the whole thing — especially since there are no photos of the back of the sweater. And I also did a little ribbing at the top and bottom, wanting to see if it rolls nicely into the stitch pattern. I got gauge on US8s and thought I would probably like the fabric better if I went down to 7s. It turns out I’m really pleased with the diamond panel after washing and drying the swatch. But after the wash, my honeycomb cables are sort of spreading out — they look like I’m doing some trendy drop-stitch thing. I don’t hate the look of it, it’s just not intended. And I haven’t done honeycomb before so I’m not sure if it would be solved by going down a needle size? So I’ll swatch it again on 7s and see what I think.* I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on that. Also, my swatch is only 3 inches of pattern height so I have a general sense of my row gauge (and that it will shrink up about 8-10% in the wash) but will measure it again once I’m 4 inches into the body.

Cast-on: I’m planning to do a tubular cast-on. I like that more substantial edge.

Size/ease: With my big shoulders, it would be easy for this sweater to make me look like a linebacker, so I’m planning to keep it fairly fitted. But I do button my cardigans sometimes and will be layering this, so want a little bit of ease. If I go ahead and knit it at pattern gauge, I’ll probably go with the size 35, which is about a half-inch of ease. If my gauge gets smaller/tighter (going down a needle size), I’ll cast on the 38 knowing it will come out somewhere between the 35 and 38.

Concerns/trepidations: I’m a little concerned about the neck shaping. Based on the pattern and many of the project photos, I think it’s perhaps too sloped (not rounded enough) to lay nicely. So we’ll talk about neck shaping as we get into this whole thing.

Body construction: Haven’t decided yet, but I’ll probably knit this in pieces, as written. I’m toying with knitting the body in one piece but I don’t think I want to knit rows that long in this stitch pattern. Each row would take me an eternity, whereas shorter rows will make me feel like I’m making progress. Plus I like a side seam.

Button bands: I’ve never done them the way this pattern is written so I’m eager to see how that goes. I might put a ribbon backing on it, though.

Other mods: I have long arms, so I’ll need to tamper with the sleeve lengths. And again, I know my sweater is going to get shorter when I wash it (this is why we block our swatches!) so I need to put some extra length in the sleeves and body to account for that. I also think I’m going to do a right-cross center cable in the diamonds on one side, and a left-cross on the other side, so they’re mirrored instead of all twisting the same direction.

*Although this time I’ll do it as Kate recommends in her post about swatching, which will post on Monday!

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Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

ANNA DIANICH, Owner of Tolt Yarn and Wool (Instagram: @toltyarnandwool)

Yarn: Imperial Yarn Columbia 2-Ply in the color Natural

Swatch: For my swatch I followed the sleeve chart and started with a US8 needle and then went down to a 7. I got gauge on a 7. The fabric is a little dense but the cables look great. I think this garment will be rain- and wind-proof.

Cast-on: Long-tail, because that’s how I roll.

Size/ease: Choosing a size is always difficult for me. I decided on the 35″ — I hope it’s not too snug.

Concerns/trepidations: I’m knitting this in pieces as written. I usually avoid seamed knits so I’m a little nervous about this. Since it’s seamed, I won’t be able to try it on which also makes me a little uneasy.

Body construction: I’m knitting it in pieces, yikes!

Button bands: I haven’t decided on this yet. I think I might just do the button bands as I’m knitting the front pieces of the sweater. Is this a bad idea? Anyone??

Other mods: I love Karen’s idea of mirroring the diamond shape cables so I’m going to make that mod.

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Amanda knitalong: Meet the Panel!

KATE GAGNON OSBORN, Co-owner of Kelbourne Woolens (Instagram: @kelbournewoolens)

Yarn: The Fibre Company Savannah in Natural

Swatch: I got gauge (astonishingly both stitch and row!) on US7. I knit 3 separate swatches. (More on this in my post here on Monday.)

Cast-on: The good ol’ long-tail.

Size-ease: I’m knitting the 2nd size, the 35″ bust. That is 0″ ease, which I think will be good for the cardigan. (I typically wear cardigans open.)

Concerns/trepidations: About many, many things. (Why does my kid love pistachios, but cry when I try to feed her fruit? Will our dog ever get to a point where he doesn’t need twice-daily insulin shots? Should we look into that safety recall, or after 120K miles are we confident the brakes on our car are probably fine? …) Happily, none of them are Amanda-cardigan related, though!

Body construction: Pieces! Forever and always!!

Button bands: Definitely not as written. I can’t decide whether I am going to knit them as I go, or pick them up. I think I might pick them up because I don’t like the look of loose ribbing and it will be too loose on the 7s if I knit them with the body.

Other mods: I already cast on fewer stitches for the sleeve cuff, but will increase before the cabling to match the pattern. I also plan on doing the yoke in pieces and seaming it all. It isn’t really a mod, but I’m cabling without a cable needle throughout.

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New Favorites: Slouchless beanies

New Favorites: Slouchless beanie patterns

Here’s a confession: I’m not the biggest fan of slouchy hats. They look super cute on lots of people, I concede* — I just personally prefer the look of a tidier, shorter hat. Given that slouchy beanies have been all the rage the past couple of years, I am always the one sussing out crown depth (multiplying the pattern’s row gauge by the number of rounds knitted for the crown) and modifying work-even height so my total hat height is about 7.5-8 inches. Not all hats lend themselves to this very readily. SO! I am thrilled to see the tides seemingly shifting and a number of fantastic patterns for what I’ll call knitted caps hitting the pages of Ravelry. These are all calling out to me: “Forget all those sweaters, Karen. Cast on a hat! You know you want to …”

TOP LEFT: Hutchin by Jared Flood

TOP RIGHT: Dauphine Hat by Julia Farwell-Clay

MIDDLE LEFT: Archway Hat by Adrienne Larsen

MIDDLE RIGHT: Mistake-Rib Beanie by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas (free pattern)

BOTTOM LEFT: Richting by Andrea Rangel

BOTTOM RIGHT: Apple Pie by Tin Can Knits [For a slouchier version, see Courtney Kelley's Kiva Hattu]

*Case in point: The gorgeous photo of the blonde model in the purple slouchy Skiff does make me want that exact hat. I think I have enough Thistle left from my Trillium to have it, too.

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First of the Best of Spring 2015: Creatures of Comfort

First of the best knits of Spring 2015

It’s early days, but already the Spring 2015 collections are making me think I could learn to love warm-weather dressing. (Hot-weather dressing is another story.) One of my favorites so far is Creatures of Comfort, due in large part to the presence of that elusive garment I love so well, the vest. The show combines haberdashery vests and sweater vests — sometimes in the same look. But I also think that slouchy black-and-grey pullover paired with the sunny yellow skort (what do you call it?) is the perfect between-seasons look.

First of the best knits of Spring 2015

Someday vs. Right Away: small-scale Amanda alternatives

Someday vs Right Away: small-scale Amanda alternatives

So the Brooklyn Tweed Fall ’14 Collection is out, and it’s a doozy. I don’t think there’s a single piece that won’t factor into some future post of mine, and a least a couple I can see myself knitting. (The one I most want in my closet right this minute is Docklight.) There’s nothing that quite meets the Amanda parameters, construction-wise, but if you just want to knit a cable sweater along with us,  there are lots of lovely choices there. However, it’s possible you’ve been wishing to participate in the Amanda knitalong (aka #fringeandfriendsknitalong) but feel like a densely cabled cardigan sweater is beyond your skill set and/or your availability. If that’s true, and you’d like to join in by knitting a smaller-scale piece with all the cable goodness, the BT collection contains two good Amanda alternatives:

LEFT: the Shackleton scarf by Michele Wang has a lot in common with Amanda, combining honeycomb and (softened) diamond cables

RIGHT: on an even smaller scale, there’s Jared Flood’s Skiff hat, which, like Amanda, has moss-filled diamonds as its main motif

Both would be great if you’re a cable addict itching to knit some lush cables, or if you’re newer to cables and up for the challenge of expanding those cabling skills and knitting from a moderately complex cable chart. All of which will factor into the knitalong discussion. Something for everyone!

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PREVIOUSLY in Someday vs. Right Away: Cables and lace