Knit the Look: Vasilisa Pavlova’s waffle sweater

Knit the Look: Vasilisa Pavlova's waffle sweater

Knit the Look is hard in the summer, but we’re all ready to dream about “transitional looks” right about now, am I right? I love the simplicity of this outfit on Vasilisa Pavlova: a beautifully proportioned waffle-stitch sweater in ivory paired with a black mini. (For me, that would be shorts.) Tahki Stacy Charles has a free pattern that’s a good starting point here, the Biella Pullover. To make it look like Vasilisa’s, knit a size with 6 or 8 inches of positive ease. For the body, start with 6 or 7 inches of ribbing, then skip the waist shaping and knit another 7 or 8 inches in the waffle pattern (depending on how long you want the body of your sweater to be — the slightly short length is key here). Same thing for the sleeves — knit a nice long ribbed cuff before starting in on the waffle work. Wear with everything you own.

For the rest of the outfit, see Vanessa’s original post.

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Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

 

Fancy ladies in Estonia

Fancy ladies in Estonia

In the category of Instagram feeds I wish I could beam myself into, the most recent additions are those of @fancyjaime and @fancyamber, the co-owners of Denver’s Fancy Tiger Crafts. If you already follow them, you know they’re perpetually off on some yarn-related adventure or another, but this most recent one takes the cake. They popped into Iceland for a minute on their way to Estonia, where they attended the sort of craft camp where you learn to carve bone tools as well as knit intricately patterned mittens. The photos have been totally amazing, but they’ll be pushed down-feed by their next adventure soon, so go look right now: @fancyjaime and @fancyamber. And/or read all about it next Monday on their blog.

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Best. Swatch. Ever.

Best. Swatch. Ever.

You all know I’ve had Channel on the brain (and the approved knitting list!) since trying it on back in March, but my fever escalated around the time of Squam. I was packing for that trip, knowing it would be cool nights and mornings, and was shocked to have nothing suitable: no sweatshirt and only super wooly sweaters that I could not bring myself to put into a suitcase in June. What I wanted and needed was my Channel cardigan — the one I’m planning to knit in this fantastic O-Wool Balance, which is an organic, washable, cotton-wool blend that knits up into a light, airy, not-too-warm fabric. I.e., the perfect all-seasons cardigan. I have two more trips this summer that all but require this sweater, except of course the sweater does not yet exist. But behold my swatch! The best swatch of all time.

I wanted to practice the charted stitch pattern, and particularly the English Rib portion, which is a little conflictingly described in the pattern. The chart includes the two ribbed sections and the chevrons in between, and I added five stitches of moss stitch on each end, since that’s what happens in the sweater. However, gauge for the sweater is actually given over moss stitch, not the charted stitches, so after knitting a few repeats of the chart, I switched to moss for a couple of inches, which gave me the necessary four vertical inches of moss to measure my gauge. The swatch has since been machine washed (it came out practically dry! damn, I love this yarn) and measured, and I appear to be spot on pattern gauge. And the fabric couldn’t be better for what I’m wanting. I had a blast knitting this, so I’m as eager as can be to cast on.

Of those two upcoming trips I really want this sweater for, one of them is next week. And though it’s not an opportunity to wear it, I hope to do a meaningful amount of knitting on it. I’m traveling with my entire family (in celebration of my parents’ 50th anniversary) to a retreat place somewhere in the mountains of NC, where I’m told reception is spotty, at best. I’ve got blog posts queued up for you, but:

IMPORTANT SHOP NOTE: I’ll be packing orders this weekend and will drop them at the PO Monday morning on our way out of town. The rest of the orders from Sunday through Friday will ship during a special session on Saturday the 26th. So if you’ve got something you know you need next week, get your order in today!

New Favorites: Summertastic wash cloths

New Favorites: Summertastic wash cloths

Do you know I have never knitted a wash cloth? It’s such a classic thing to knit by the dozens — and such a common starter project — but I don’t really use wash cloths, so it’s never really interested me. But suddenly it’s on my mind. In part because of this great new Purl Bee pattern, Washcloths and scrubbing mitt, and in part because I’m having a “coming full circle” moment over here. Bob and I are currently staying with our dear friends in Nashville, the dynamic brother-sister duo of Meg and DG. Meg (of KnitKnotes fame*) is the one who taught me to knit when we were visiting them in 2011. When I went to see her at Haus of Yarn before flying home, I bought a booklet of wash cloth patterns, thinking that would be a good learning tool, but then there was that whole wash cloth disinterest thing, so I never did it. Now here we are again and Meg just recently taught DG to knit. And what is he knitting in front of me each night? Not just wash cloths, no. He started out knitting these 50 states wash cloths (he’s cuckoo for map stuff) and promptly decided to knit them into a blanket. Maybe it’s that, maybe it’s watching my friend Leigh knit so many Grandmother’s Favorites over the last couple of years; maybe it’s the inherent logic of knitting small, quick, cotton things in the summer heat. Whatever the reason, wash cloths (and their upsized friends, the dish towels) are feeling super appealing to me right now, so I consulted my favorite patterns and it turns out they’re all from my friends over at the Purl Bee — i.e., all of them free:

TOP LEFT: Soft Cotton Knit Dishtowels — mmmm, garter stripes

TOP RIGHT: Washcloths and Scrubbing Mitt — fantastic use of that crazy Habu yarn

BOTTOM LEFT: Slip Stitch Dishtowels — you know I’m intrigued by that slip-stitch colorwork action (see also)

BOTTOM RIGHT: New Log Cabin Washcloths — I’ve also never knitted a mitered square (quelle horreur!)

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*DG did the design work on the KnitKnotes, by the way. Told you they’re a dynamic duo.

Togue Stripes

Togue Stripes

Verdict on this tank sweater: BIG LOVE. So quick (actual combined knitting time), so simple, so useful here in the land of 90-something-degree days. Dress it up, dress it down. And it’s forever entwined in my memory with Squam — this yarn and the green needles and porch floor and weathered decking were just the most soothing and pleasing visual combination. I love love loved it.

Togue Stripes

As you know, I wanted a cross between Pam Allen’s two recent tank sweater patterns. I wanted the weight and gauge of Togue Pond with the look of Saco Stripes — specifically the A-line shape, plain lower edge, stripes (obviously) and wider “straps.” So here’s what I did:

— Knitted it in the Kestrel yarn (in Pebble and Senza) using the Togue Pond pattern (second size).

— Omitted the waist ribbing and short-row shaping — I simply did one purl round after the cast-on and then worked straight in stockinette.

— Cast on with US10 needles and worked the first couple of inches, then switched to US9′s, then to US8′s after the top stripe. When I do it again, I’ll just start on US9′s; it’s already getting to be a little more flouncy at the waist than I’d like.

— Anticipating that it would grow with blocking and over time, I knitted it shorter than I wanted it. Unfortunately, I didn’t write it down, but I think it was 13 or 13.5 inches before dividing for front and back. After blocking and a couple of wears, it’s now 15 inches (not including the ribbing).

— I worked the first stripe 3 inches (I think) from the cast-on edge. The Senza stripes are 2 rows each, with 6 rows of Pebble in between.

— I staggered my waist decreases a little differently (just keeping them in the grey), and did fewer of them. When it came time to divide for front and back and work the armhole shaping, I had eight more stitches than the pattern called for, which gave me two extra stitches in each “strap.”

— I did the 3-needle bind-off for the shoulders with wrong sides together, so the seam is exposed. I also have a bad habit of forgetting to bind-off when doing a 3-needle bind-off — I just do all the k2tog’s and wind up with a row of live stitches. So then I go back and pass the stitches over each other to bind them off. Which actually makes a nice substantial looking exposed seam.

— I had seen comments on Ravelry that people were picking up fewer stitches for the neck/arms than the pattern called for. I picked up 96 for the neck and the same number as the pattern for the armholes.

— To counteract the growth tendency, I deliberately did my bind-offs a little on the tight side.

— I did not do jogless stripes, and I did not carry the Senza yarn up the sides either, because I knew it would show through, given the loose-ish gauge and high contrast. So when weaving in each of those Senza ends, I did one duplicate stitch from the right side of the fabric to even out the jog, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Our first evening in Nashville, we were over at our friend Jo’s for BLTs. I wove in the last of the ends on her deck and she threw it in her washing machine while we ate, then laid it out to air dry. I’m already in love with the fabric and know it will just get softer over time, so definitely put me down as a linen convert.

Togue Stripes

Elsewhere

Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

Elsewhere is exactly where I am these days, y’all. (I have free license to say y’all as much as I want now, so watch out!) My life is as disrupted as it can possibly get — and instead of getting more settled, it keeps finding ways to get more unsettled. But I am GOING WITH THE FLOW. Let’s just say I’m getting really good at shipping orders from the back of my car. Next week though (knock wood knock wood knock wood) I will finally have access to my new studio, so at least there will be some partial new normal to come, and hopefully a return to regular blogging. Meanwhile, fibery links for you to explore:

— Sarai Mitnick on why it’s ok to be a selfish sewer (or knitter!)

— “I love it because it was knitted by hand and with love. Its imperfections make it special and they make it mine. They make it better than all of my straight, even, normal-necked knitwear.

A mystery knit-along I would not have regretted. (Mystery knit-alongs scare me.)

— Jared Flood on color theory for knitters, Part 1 and Part 2

— I’m wowed by what all got made after Fancy Tiger’s Indigo Dye Day

Love this tote pattern

— and I’d like to visit the Voss Folkemuseum, please.

Have a marvelous weekend — please tell me what you’re working on so I can live (i.e, knit) vicariously! And p.s. for those who’ve been waiting, I just added some more copies of Macramé Pattern Book to the shop.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed)

In Our Tools, Ourselves, we get to know fiber artisans of all walks, ages, styles and skill levels, by way of their tools. For more on the series, read the introduction.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed)

So if you read this blog, you know what a huge admirer I am of Jared Flood, his knitting designs, and his illustrious company, Brooklyn Tweed. And I’m obviously far far from alone in that. I’ve had the pleasure of crossing paths with Jared in recent months, first at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle and then again at Squam, where he was the “knitter in residence.” (My new goal in life is to be dubbed “knitter in residence” somewhere other than my own illusory front porch.) While those encounters were just brief conversations in crowded venues, I was struck by what a pleasant and genuine person he seems to be, as I’m sure you’ll see by his answers to my Our Tools questions. I also hope you’ll love the photos (Jared had the clever idea to photograph his worktable at various moments over the course of a few weeks) and that you’ll join me in wishing him HAPPY BIRTHDAY today. Thank you, Jared!

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Do you knit, crochet, weave, spin, dye, sew … ?

Yes, I have some experience with all of these things, but my primary interests are knitting and sewing. Knitting is obviously my main “bread and butter” — both as a hobby and now as my career! Sewing is something I’ve picked up later in life, particularly after falling into a career path as a knitwear designer — learning to sew has been a natural outgrowth and feeds my interest in shape, textile architecture and fabric. Slippery slope there …

I’ve dabbled in weaving and dyeing, but would not consider myself anything other than an amateur in each area! I recently took a card weaving class, which was completely amazing. Add it to the growing list of hobbies I wish I had extra time to pursue!

I got bitten by the spinning bug in 2007 and was very actively spinning during that year. It taught me a lot about yarn (a subject that I am very passionate about!), and was probably one of the first steps toward my future as a yarn producer.

I would consider myself a pretty good crocheter, but I tend to gravitate to this hobby more for the structural nature of the craft rather than the resulting fabric/garments. I love crochet as a sculptural medium. I also have a very geeky interest in Japanese crochet charting. (If you’ve never seen these charts, they are beautiful works of art in their own right!) I’ll admit to much of my crocheting being an excuse to study and appreciate those charted illustrations!

Tell us about your tool preferences and peccadilloes.

The tools I regularly use for knitting are very simple — my general preference is to use as few tools as possible to do the maximum amount of tasks. I do 90% of my knitting work with interchangeable circular needles (I am an Addi devotee!), a tapestry needle, rust-proof (coilless) stitch markers, a large gridded blocking board and blocking wires (I absolutely adore my Handworks NW hand-burnished blocking wires – couldn’t live without them) and my smartphone (calculator and camera are in regular use!). I may have occasional use for an odd tool like a pom-pom maker or sharp scissors for steeking, but in general this simple list of tools gets all the work done that I need.

I’m probably a little bit more obsessive about the tools I use for design. I have been a lifelong lover of pens and notebooks, and my notebook collection is one area where I probably seem like a hoarder. Though in recent years, I’ve found a specific brand of Japanese notebook that I use religiously: spiral binding, hard plastic cover, perfectly sized sheets and — most importantly — a dot-rule grid. I love working on grids (which thankfully I need to do often in knitwear design), and a dot-rule grid allows me the presence of the grid without a large amount of visual clutter coming from traditional gridlines on graph paper. It’s the perfect marriage of graph paper and blank sketching paper — again, the more versatile the better.

I’m also very particular with my writing and sketching tools. I like precision tools, so tend to use Japanese writing utensils — both pens and mechanical pencils — with tip fineness in the range of .3 to .4 mm. (Now my inner geek is really coming out!)

The other tool area that I remain uncompromising about is software. I spend a lot of my time doing design and photography work on-screen, and over the years have honed in on those tools that are most well-designed and efficient for my own workflow. I spend a lot of time working in Adobe Illustrator (an absolutely amazing piece of software!) working on design mock-ups, pattern drafting, chart and schematic illustration, etc. Illustrator is seriously powerful, and having spent the time to figure out specific ways it can work for my needs has been totally worth it over the years. For digital photography, I am completely reliant on my Wacom tablet, which transforms photo processing (at least in my own head) from something mechanical to something much more painterly. It allows digital photography to feel more like hands-on work in a darkroom, which I really love.

A few other pieces of software that I can’t live without are PathFinder for Mac (a browser replacement for Finder that is incredibly feature-rich and geared towards power-users who manage a wide variety of files, folders, directories, servers, etc.), OmniPlan (a beautiful solution for project management, which I rely on for all sorts of project planning, most notably scheduling for all of our overlapping collection schedules at Brooklyn Tweed), and Curio (a “mind mapping” software that I use for visual planning and organization — when curating or putting together a design collection, color story or pattern roster, for example).

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed)

How do you store or organize your tools? Or do you?

I’m a very organized person in general, and I like for my tools and supplies to have a good system of order. First, I am constantly trying to whittle down my tools to only the most essential things I need. If I haven’t used a tool for a year or more, I most likely will donate it or give it away. I find the constant process of editing my tools very liberating – and a sort of meditative practice, like constantly reassessing yourself and your needs for your current situation.

For the tools that I do use regularly, I like compartmentalized organizers or other custom-sized vessels. (I have a weakness for the Container Store.) I keep my circular needles organized in hanging case with sizes clearly marked. Circular needles are by far my most beloved tool for knitting.

How do you store or organize your works-in-progress?

With my knitting, I’ve been working hard for the last few years to minimize both my stash and the number of unfinished, outstanding projects that I have languishing. It’s certainly been an exercise in self-control, as any avid knitter can probably understand — but it’s been a very rewarding payoff. For the first time, I have only a handful of in-progress projects in my life, and as such can store them in very simple ways. I love woven baskets, so store most of my projects in various corners of my living space in baskets that I’ve been collecting over the years.

My ultimate goal would be to have 1-3 projects “in-process” at any given time. I haven’t gotten there yet, but it’s a goal that I’m slowly but surely moving closer to.

Are there any particularly prized possessions amongst your tools?

I inherited my mother’s sewing machine — a Japanese machine from the late ’70s that works wonderfully. I love knowing that I’m working on the machine that churned out tons of awesome, neon children’s clothes for my brothers and me in the late ’70s and early ’80s.

Do you lend your tools?

Not usually — but I think that has more to do with the fact that I am a very solitary maker; my crafting pursuits and social life don’t intersect much. (Aside from my day-to-day interaction with my team at Brooklyn Tweed, which provides plenty of creative stimulation!)

When it comes to lending tools, I usually prefer to give something away instead — it’s all part of my constant effort to pare down my tools to only the essentials. As I get older, I notice that I tend more and more towards a minimalist approach to my tools and possessions in general.

What is your favorite place to knit?

I like knitting really late at night when the world has gone silent. I find that this is the best time to let my mind wander and to really enjoy the process of making stitches.

What effect do the seasons have on you?

I am a fall and winter creature to the core. I have a quiet, pensive personality – and I find that my innate personal traits seem more at home in the colder months, when the weather forces us to slow down, stay indoors, and contemplate the inner workings of our lives.

Spring and summer can be lovely, of course, but as a Pacific Northwest native, I am severely ill-equipped for East Coast heat and humidity in the summer, even after almost a decade living here!

I do, of course, knit year-round — and very happily. I don’t discredit the role my air conditioner plays in my ability to knit with wool even during the hottest days of summer, however.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed)

Do you have a dark secret, guilty pleasure or odd quirk, where your fiber pursuits are concerned?

While I don’t think it should be considered a “quirk,” I absolutely love swatching. I know I am in the minority of knitters with this, but there it is!

I love spending time and care on my swatches, getting a feel for a new stitch pattern and a new fabric, studying the behavior of the yarn at a certain gauge, and getting to know the essence of my garment before I begin work on it. A lot of people seem surprised or shocked that I finish my swatches with the same care I do any other knitted item (charting them, wet blocking, weaving in ends, squaring all the edges, etc.) but to me it just seems like good sense. Plus, I love having perfect little swatches around me — they give me inspiration and help fuel new ideas.

What are you working on right now?

For Brooklyn Tweed, I am working on my designs for our Winter 2015 collection, scheduled for release in January of next year. In my personal knitting, I’ve been playing around with some linen yarns, and am working up an open-gauge linen pullover for myself that will be a great summer “knock around” item. I absolutely love linen — and especially love that I can throw it in the washing machine and it will get softer and more worn-in with time. It’s also such a huge contrast to my true love — wool — that it feels nice to change it up and explore new fibers when I have the time.

Our Tools, Ourselves: Jared Flood (Brooklyn Tweed)

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Photos © Jared Flood