New Favorites: the chevrons of BT Winter ’15

New Favorites: the chevrons of BT Winter '15

Yesterday Brooklyn Tweed released what must be their most sweater-heavy collection to date, BT Winter ’15. (One hat, one scarf and fifteen sweaters!) I couldn’t help noticing that my favorites all happen to feature chevrons of one kind or another:

TOP: Sanford by Julie Hoover has a small-scale allover chevron pattern on the body, combined with plain sleeves

MIDDLE: Cordova by Michele Wang has columns of staghorn cables that have the effect of chevrons, mixed with swaths of trinity stitch

BOTTOM: Midway by Veronik Avery has a larger-scale chevron and textured mix

But my actual favorite sweater from the batch — because omg I am so predictable — is by the illustrious Norah Gaughan who has just joined the BT design team. Marshal, below, doesn’t have a chevron anywhere on it, but on a cardigan this military, the chevron patches are implied—

New Favorites: the chevrons of BT Winter '15

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: the other Lene Holme Samsoe sweaters

Cardigans for first-timers: Or, how button bands happen

Cardigan patterns for first-timers

Ever since putting together the Pullovers for first-timers post, I’ve been laboring over a cardigan version! And here it finally is: good starter cardigan patterns, whether you’re a beginning knitter or have been knitting for years and have just never tackled a cardigan before. Cardigans simply are trickier than pullovers. (Much trickier to write about; potentially trickier to knit.) And since the pullovers post includes an overview of sweater construction methods, I’ve organized this one according to the key distinguishing factor amongst cardigans, which is the button bands. Throughout those categories, I’ve included a mix of the basic sweater types (top-down seamless, bottom-up seamless, seamed). All of which provides a fairly broad sampling of the many approaches to cardigan construction. As before, I’m giving you one very basic option in each category, followed by options that involve fancier knitting. If you are already comfortable with cables, lace, short rows, etc., there’s no reason your first cardigan can’t include those things.

If you haven’t read the pullovers post and/or don’t already have a basic familiarity with sweater construction types, you might want to take a minute to read that post before proceeding with this one.

Cardigan patterns for first-timers

MODIFIED SHRUGS / INVERTIBLES

Just like the drop-shoulder group in the pullovers post, these sweaters (a step up from the simple partially seamed rectangle known as a shrug) skirt the complications altogether. They don’t really hew to sweater construction in general and don’t have buttons or bands. Because they’re fairly abstract shapes to begin with, some of them can also be worn upside down.

suggested pattern:
Prewrapped Wrap from the Purl Bee — one T-shaped piece with picked-up ribbing along two edges, plus two little seams (free pattern)

or if you’re feeling more ambitious:
Cocoon Shrug by Nancy Ricci — three or four rectangles seamed into a cardigan with a double-thick collar (should be downloadable soon)
Stranger by Michiyo — five rectangles; involves grafting two front rectangles together at back neck, picking up stitches for the rectangular back, plus two more rectangles for the sleeves (see also Inversion Cardigan by Jared Flood)

pros: simpler to knit in many regards; the varieties of construction can be fascinating; potential for getting multiple looks from one sweater
cons: because they aren’t really shaped to the human form like a traditional sweater, they can sometimes look a little ill-fitting no matter which direction you wear them; won’t really teach you anything about true cardigan construction

Cardigan patterns for first-timers

NO BANDS / FAUX BANDS

Whether or not they have buttons, not all cardigans have button bands. Sometimes the collar or band is simply a swath of stitches along the fronts worked in a contrasting stitch pattern to the rest of the body.

suggested pattern:
Casco Bay Cardi by Carrie Bostick Hoge — no bands or collar (or cuffs, or waistband!); buttonholes worked right into the top-down seamless, garter-stitch body

or if you’re feeling more ambitious:
Purl Soho Cardigan Coat from Purl Soho — bottom-up seamless construction wherein a simple mix of garter and stockinette stitches create the illusion of bands; garter continues upwards for the yoke and neck (see also: Park Street by Pam Allen)
East Matunuck Cardigan by Amy Christoffers — also bottom-up seamless, joined at the underarms; a cable-and-lace motif worked along the fronts creates the collar; with this type of bottom-up integral collar, once you get to the yoke the “collar” stitches are worked separately from the body and joined at the end (see also: the fully seamed Sun Prairie cardigan; free pattern)

pros: none of the additional knitting/seaming of a button band; bands are structurally unnecessary for an open-front cardigan
cons: if you do want buttons, lack of structural bands can exacerbate the gaping-closure problem common to handknit sweaters

Cardigan patterns for first-timers

PICKED UP BANDS

Crewneck cardigans have straight front edges. V-neck cardigans have fronts that slope away from each other at the neck. Either one lends itself to button bands worked from picked-up stitches, knitted perpendicular to the body fabric. For a crewneck, you simply pick up along each front edge and knit; the neckband is worked separately from stitches picked up around the neckline. For V-necks (like Fable and Uniform), you pick up one set of stitches all the way around — starting at the right front bottom and working up the right side, around the neck and back down the left front. Common stitch pattern options for picked-up bands include ribbing (twisted rib, garter rib), garter stitch and seed stitch.

suggested pattern:
Louise by Carrie Bostick Hoge — worked bottom-up or top-down, an ultra-basic crewneck cardigan (with optional color-blocking); bands picked up along the two straight front edges and worked in garter stitch (see also: Uniform Cardigan for an ultra-basic boyfriend cardigan)

or if you’re feeling more ambitious:
Fable Cardigan by Kate Gagnon Osborn — an equally basic stockinette cardigan but this one’s fully seamed with set-in sleeves and has a shawl collar shaped with short rows
Trillium by Michele Wang (see blueprint at top of post) — bottom-up circular yoke with subtle chevrons and nupps and an intriguing series of short rows for back/neck shaping; button bands in twisted broken rib (hey, mine’s finally on Ravelry!)

pros: Picked-up edge provides some structure; less work than a seamed-on band (assuming you find picking up stitches easier than seaming)
cons: Arguably less structure than a seamed-on band

Cardigan patterns for first-timers

VERTICAL BANDS

Whether for straight crewneck fronts or designed to run from the bottom front edge to the center back of a V-neck, vertical bands are typically 1×1 ribbing worked (on smaller needles) to the length of that edge and seamed into place.

suggested pattern:
Linney by Amy Christoffers (pictured as knitted by blackbun) — bottom-up one-piece body with set-in sleeves and seamed vertical bands

or if you’re feeling more ambitious:
Dwell by Martin Storey — fully seamed, with set-in sleeves and seamed bands, and the addition of cables and pockets! (see also: Broadstairs)
Amanda by Lene Holme Samsoe — I know! but vertical bands worked simultaneously with the waist ribbing then set aside, worked upwards independent of the body and seamed on; perfectly suitable first cardigan for anyone comfortable with a cable chart

pros: 1×1 ribbing at tight gauge creates a denser, firmer band; seams provide optimal structure; least likely to stretch out at a different rate than the sweater; arguably the most “professional” looking band
cons: slightly more work than picked-up bands

Cardigan patterns for first-timers

PROVISIONAL BANDS

I’m not distinguishing between basic and advanced here because this is the tricksiest set in the mix. I’m seeing this lately, though, so I wanted to throw in a couple for the more intrepid among you: top-down seamless sweaters that start with a provisionally cast-on collar/band and are worked outward and downward from there.

Cedarwood by Alicia Plummer — with the look of an integral shawl collar
Skygge by Olga Buraya-Kefelian — with the look of a seamed-on vertical band

pros: Seamless; fascinating knitting process
cons: No real structural underpinning as with a picked-up or seamed edge

. . .

Hoodies, zippers, sideways kimonos, steeks … there are seriously countless kinds of cardigans out there, but if I didn’t keep this reasonably basic and first-timer-y, it could go on for days.

If you are knitting seamlessly (from the top or bottom), do consider adding a basting stitch wherever a seam would/should be, as described in How (and why) to seam a seamless sweater!

Helpful? Will one of these be your first cardigan? Let’s hear about it —

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PROFOUNDLY UNRELATED: I’m one of the guests on this week’s Woolful podcast (along with the lovely Felicia Semple). I’m scared to listen, so I’ll count on you to tell me how many different ways I put my foot in my mouth!

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PREVIOUSLY in Beginning to knit: Colorwork for first-timers

Hole and Sons and the unicorn sighting of the yarn world

Hole and Sons and the unicorn sighting of the yarn world

A lot of you remember (I know, because I get asked about it) when I posted last spring about how Instagram-famous British farmer @benjaminhole was making a yarn from the fleece of his Poll Dorset sheep, under the brand Hole & Sons Wool. Many of us eager knitters, myself included, waited and waited — and waited — for any subsequent news on the release of the yarn. Last summer there was a photo with a note that it was done and needed labels, then it would be ready. Weeks after that came another saying once the harvest was done. Seven weeks ago @kararosenlund got some. Other than that … silence. I don’t know about you, but I’d given up hope. Then one morning the week before last, I was lying in bed scrolling through Instagram and saw a comment from @thesachemfarm saying “@karentempler did you see this?” I recognized the photo instantly and knew exactly what it meant, so I literally leapt out of bed and ran for my laptop, expecting the supply would only last a minute and guessing I might already be too late. I pulled up Etsy, found it, placed a hasty order, and refreshed to a blank page. It was gone. The yarn, and for a moment even the shop. Then the shop came back, but empty. Did my order go through? And if so, what exactly did I order?

The product page at the time said only that it was 50g balls, no mention of gauge or yardage, so I had no idea what I was buying. Assuming it was tiny fingering-weight balls (given the geographic context, the look of the balls, and the relatively small price tag), I had plopped 10 grey in my cart and wondered what on earth I would do with them. For a few hours, it looked like maybe the order hadn’t gone through and it wouldn’t matter. Then came two notes from Etsy saying they had cancelled it, and more notes from Sue Hole (“Ben’s Auntie,” she said, aka @harpstone) — who I only later realized had made the announcement on Instagram, and who I hadn’t been following — that there was a problem between them and Etsy about taking payments, but that my yarn was on its way. At this point, I almost had to wonder if it was a scam — someone using the Hole family name and photos to make a fake Etsy shop — but the messages from Sue seemed genuine enough, and she wasn’t asking to be paid until the yarn arrived, seemingly understanding how fishy it all looked. So I waited again, to see if it would materialize.

Friday afternoon, my sopping-wet mailman handed me a sopping-wet plastic mailer, which I assumed was something else. When I tore it open, you can imagine how far my jaw dropped. Not only is it here, it isn’t tiny fingering-weight balls at all — it’s a sweater’s worth of dk/worsted-weight splendor. With a perfect hand-drawn label by Ariele Alasko, who totally won the talent lottery. (I mean.) And of course, I instantly began fantasizing about what it would become. Whatever it is, I will not be rushing into it! I feel so lucky (and almost guilty) to be in possession of this yarn — from sheep I follow on Instagram, ha! So it needs to be something special, and probably something very classic and British. Like a vest. Probably a vest.

Obviously the question on everyone’s lips is will there be more? Sue tells me they have another batch of fleece ready to go to the mill and it will be a couple of months before it’s yarn. I don’t know how long after that before it appears in the Etsy shop, but she’s promised to keep me posted. Meanwhile, following @harpstone is probably your best bet.

Next of the Best of Pre-Fall 2015: Moody blues

Next of the Best of Pre-Fall 2015: Moody blues

These two knits make me dizzy. Literally and in a drunk-with-joyful-inspiration sort of way. At the top is MM6 Maison Martin Margiela’s crazy sweatshirt. I do think it’s some kind of tapestried jersey and not sweater knit, but it gives me Linden ideas, and also makes me want to attach marled sleeves to a stranded sweater body. (As long as someone else knits the body for me. Tag Team, anyone?) And then we have Mulberry’s insane colorwork-meets-stockinette coat. The stranded portion includes some kind of extreme mohair that makes the patterning look like a painting that’s been splashed with water and is beginning to bleed. Oh so beautifully.

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PREVIOUSLY in Pre-Fall 2015: Camel sweaters

New Favorites: the other Lene Holme Samsoe sweaters

New Favorites: the other Lena Holme Samsoe sweaters

Now that my Amanda is finally finished, I was about to put the book, Essentially Feminine Knits, back on the shelf. But the problem with patterns in books is it’s easy to forget you have them. So I wanted to put a pin in a couple of them by posting them here—

TOP: Nikita is a much girlier sweater than I am typically drawn to, but I have a soft spot for cable-and-lace combos and I’m intrigued by the counterpane construction of this one.

BOTTOM: Lana is the cover sweater, more of a sweater coat, and though I think I would change all of the edging, I too would like to have that to wear with my sweatpants on a lazy Sunday someday.

There are three or four others under consideration as well, but these are the ones I have stared at the most.

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IN HOT SHOP NEWS: A lot of sold-out favorites have been restocked in the past few days (bonsai scissors, bone crochet hooks, rosewood crochet hooks, bone DPNs …) but I specifically wanted to note, because so many have asked, that I got another small batch of Knit Wit magazine in last night. Get ‘em while they’re hot!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

First of the Best of Pre-Fall 2015: Camel sweaters

First of the Best of Pre-Fall 2015: Camel sweaters

One of the things I believed about knitting before I learned to knit was that I would never again have trouble finding camel sweaters because I could just make them myself! And then, as I was lamenting the other day, I discovered that camel-colored yarn is harder to come by than it should be. There is truly nothing more classic, versatile or timeless than camel (not even grey!), as demonstrated by these very different looks from very different fashion houses for Pre-Fall 2015: Michael Kors sending out the epitome of the camel sweater over a long-cuffed white shirt and cropped dark jeans with the most amazing coat of all time, all of it very Mad Men; Chloé doing badass chic with a sleek camel turtleneck under a biker jacket with navy flares; See by Chloé showing us camel’s demure side in a simple pullover with an ironic toile skirt and matching handbag; and TSE putting together a more contemporary allover camel look built around a lattice-stitch funnel-neck sweater.

Anyone who doesn’t have a good camel sweater in their closet should knit one post haste, and there really are good camel-colored yarns out there — they’re just not in every yarn company’s palette like I might have imagined. The core, American-wool Quince and Co. yarns (Finch, Chickadee, Lark, Osprey and Puffin) all come in a seemingly perfect shade called Camel. (How did I not see that till now?) Most of the Fibre Company yarns come in some shade of camel — notably, Canopy Fingering and Canopy Worsted in Wild Ginger (a very light camel), worsted-weight Knightsbridge in Goldfirth and bulky Tundra in Larch. Woolfolk has a slightly light-brownish camel in Color 7 of both worsted-weight Far and fingering-weight Tynd. Blue Sky Alpacas fingering-weight Metalico in Gold Dust is one of the prettiest yarns I’ve ever seen. (I have a beloved super-bulky cable hat knit in Blue Sky Bulky in a nice camel that looks like it’s no longer available. So sad!) So they do exist — this is just a small sampling. And perhaps if we all knit with them there will be more added — and fewer removed — from the yarn palettes of the world.

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New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

Nobody does “simple” like Carrie Bostick Hoge. And nobody has quite the same finesse in taking existing patterns and changing them up — flipping the construction, changing the gauge, etc. — to make you look at them anew. She’s just released her Madder Anthology 2: Simple Pleasures collection and, as with others before it, it’s a combination of new patterns and reimagined favorites. Eleven sweaters and six accessories, all of them in spare but gorgeous combinations of garter stitch, ribbing and stockinette. And like a good caprese salad, where those three ingredients better each be perfection, she’s pretty much nailed it. My favorites:

ABOVE
top: Lila Winter, a bulky, top-down version of her popular Lila
bottom left: Liv, making me rethink my position on open-front cardigans
bottom right: Lainey Cowl, in chunky garter rib

BELOW
top left: Charlotte Light Accessories, a finer version of her Charlotte set
top right: Lori Shawl, lovely asymmetric (I presume) garter triangle (named for the model’s mother?)
bottom: Lucia Hoodie, making me rethink my position on hoodies

New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Mosaic scarves