New Favorites: Garter bliss

New Favorites: Garter bliss

Maybe it’s the surest sign that my brain is on total overload — the holidays, the persistence of moving boxes, the post-op husband situation — but this photo is the most calming, appealing thing I can think of in the whole wide world right now. If a therapist or yoga instructor told me to close my eyes and go to my happy place, I would call up this photo on the old mental projection screen and let out the biggest sigh. Garter stitch. Warm head. Warm hands. It’s Purl Soho’s Hat + Hand Warmers for Beginners pattern from the learn-to-knit-kit they released in fall of last year — just two versions of garter-stitch rectangles seamed into accessories — but I want so badly to knit without thinking right now that I am considering paying money for the cast-on counts. I already have the yarn!


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Marie Wallin’s Lakeland

Winter wardrobe fix, part 2: Quicker sweaters

Winter wardrobe fix, part 2: Quick(er) sweaters

So the other half of the winter wardrobe equation is, of course, sweaters. I’m finally at the point where I’m beginning to believe my Amanda will become a sweater at some point — hopefully by New Year’s — but it’s been a tremendous amount of time on one sweater in the midst of an actual wardrobe shortage. I’m committed to picking up where I left off (i.e., frogged back to the ribbing) with my beloved charcoal Channel Cardigan, and while I have thought of that as a sweater that’s going to take some time and patience, it actually was going fairly quickly (especially as compared to Amanda). And I also have a fair chunk of my worsted-mod Perkins Cove to get back to, which should be a pretty quick finish — although I’m not at all sure I have enough yarn. Regardless, I can’t stop myself from pondering the question of other relatively quick-win sweaters I might just have to cast on.

Generally speaking, I should say, fast is not the main criteria for me when picking sweaters to knit. If I want fast fashion, I’ll just go shopping. For me personally, a handknit sweater is an investment of time, money and creative energy into a garment I can’t get elsewhere and intend to have and love for years. But when you need sweaters, you need sweaters, so here I am thinking in these terms.

If speed were the only concern, I could whip up a few top-down raglans in superbulky wool and call it a day. But I’m looking for some balance — sweaters worth investing in but that are maybe a little bit quicker to complete, due to gauge and/or proportion. I keep shooting myself in the foot by picking worsted-weight sweaters and then knitting them in larger sizes and smaller gauges, creating extra knitting for myself (and in that one particular case, for Anna). Here are a few that are on my mind:

TOP:  Uniform Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge — short, stockinette, simple or shaped neckband, worsted-weight — is probably the sweater my closet is most sorely lacking right now. I’m suddenly inclined to reassign my Slade yarn to this. (I might have enough all from the same dye lot.)

ROW 2 LEFT: Bellows, by Michele Wang, is obviously the sweater that has taken up residency in the foremost part of my brain and refuses to budge. Given the chunky gauge, and how quickly I’m seeing others knit this up, it seems like it would be wise to bump it to the head of the line and maybe have it while winter is most upon us.

ROW 2 RIGHT: Grandson Cardigan, by Josh Bennett, on the other hand, has been on my mind since I tried on the sample in May. It’s a lot of cabling, but it’s superbulky on 13’s — wouldn’t it still be a warm, snuggly sweater in no time?

MIDDLE: Gable by Hannah Fettig, is simple with a fairly abbreviated shape, and a basic pullover (or two) is another legitimate hole in my wardrobe. It’s fingering knitted on 5’s, but I have the urge to knit it in aran weight. I’ve been longing for a sweater in Berroco Blackstone Tweed (because I so love the way my Super Simple Mitts have aged) and this might be just the thing.

BOTTOM LEFT: Quiver by Megh Testerman is worsted-weight and short, with an interesting allover pattern that doesn’t require the fiddlier bits of its knitting all that often.

BOTTOM RIGHT: Chevron Cardigan, another good chunky cardigan by Michele Wang, would be even quicker if it were a little shorter, which is how I would want it.

What’s a wardrobe-challenged knitter to do?


Winter wardrobe fix, part 1: Simple sewn tops

Winter wardrobe fix, part 1: Simple sewn tops

There’s been some turmoil going on in my home life the past few months that I haven’t really been talking about publicly — health issues with my husband that are finally (hopefully) being resolved thanks to surgery last week — but that means we have basically still not moved into our house. If you only saw the kitchen, you would think somebody lived there (albeit someone who apparently likes bare walls) but if you peered into what we call My Room, you’d think there were squatters in the house. When we moved to Nashville, we didn’t actually move to Nashville but to a town outside of town where the rents are dirt cheap and we were able to get enough space that Bob would have his painting studio in the daylight basement and I would have a room where my sewing machine could be out 24/7. Living the dream! Until … squatterville. The other thing keeping me from putting the room together and to use is that I haven’t had time to give any thought to how to furnish and organize it. But with things turning around finally, I was doing stuff around the house Sunday and a lightbulb went on over my head. Suddenly I could see the room all laid out, and immediately ordered my favorite industrial shelves and a worktable (happy early birthday/Christmas to me!) to use as a cutting table and for blocking. Now all I need is a table for the sewing machine itself (or a dining table so I can commandeer the table we’re currently eating on). And I’m fantasizing about a serger, but I’ll have to win the lottery first.

So my early New Year’s resolution, which I’ve been talking about on and off here for awhile, is to really learn to sew. I learned very young and do it rarely and have forgotten almost everything I ever knew. So I want to start from scratch. As much as I truly need sweaters right now, I just can’t bring myself to buy them, and it will take me awhile to knit the handful I need. Plus who doesn’t love a sweatshirt? So I have two immediate projects in mind for as soon as I get myself organized:

TOP: You may recall I bought the new Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt pattern on my Seattle trip last month. I’d love to make it in a nice heavy fleece, but I’ve also been pondering a fancier version. I bought this gem from J.Crew recently, a glorified sweatshirt in boiled wool, and I could not love it more. Shortly after that, Purl Soho added some exquisite-looking boiled wool to the shop, and along came Linden. Seems like fate, no? Except there’s the matter of the price tag on that wool — and the fear of cutting into it. But I’m not giving up on the idea.

BOTTOM: Then just last week on the Purl Bee appeared the Sewn Raglan Shirt pattern — designed for woven fabrics, with a little gathered neckline. I love it, and am picturing it in a nice flannel. Because there’s no end of how much flannel I want in my closet.


Someday vs. Right Away: Fair isle practice

Someday vs. Right Away: Fair isle practice

As much as I might like to fantasize about knitting an allover fair isle sweater, it’s probably more of a never than a someday. I have no doubt that if I practiced my stranded colorwork more and got more comfortable with it, I’d also get faster, and a sweater like Windermere wouldn’t seem quite so far fetched. So what better to practice on than lovely little hats like Schuyler by Jennifer Burke (free pattern) and Fjordland by Dianna Walla?


PREVIOUSLY in Someday vs. Right Away: Small-scale Amanda alternatives

Knit the Look: Preetma Singh’s rollneck sweater

Knit the Look: Preetma Singh's rollneck sweater

I can never see a rollneck sweater and not think of the J.Crew classic from my youth, which I coveted for all the years they kept it in the catalog and never got to have. Seeing this version on fashion editor/drummer Preetma Singh makes me want one all over again. As did the Purl Soho Pullover pattern when it was released last year. Preetma’s has ribbed cuffs, which I love and would be a no-brainer of a mod, and a punkified hem. I personally would skip that part, but you could easily emulate it with a crochet chain. Knit it in Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist Heather in the lightly mottled Ash Gray. Or — if you’re comfortable adapting a pattern to a different gauge — you could get a chunkier and more marled look like Preetma’s by holding together two strands of a fingering-weight yarn, one in light grey and the other an even lighter grey.

See Vanessa’s post for more of Preetma’s look.


PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Danielle Bernstein’s cable beanie


Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

New Favorites: from Marie Wallin’s Lakeland

New Favorites: from Marie Wallin's Lakeland 2

These patterns published in July, part of Marie Wallin’s Lakeland: Collection Two, when the plaids and tweeds and windswept English countryside looked soooo appealing, but it was difficult to imagine ever donning a woolly jumper. That was then, this is now, and I’m coveting these sweaters:

TOP: Derwent is a chunky, heavily cabled, drop-shoulder cardigan-jacket, roomy enough to be worn over a plaid suit, apparently. I love the neckline in particular.

BOTTOM: I fantasize about knitting allover fair isle someday, and a two-color jobbie like Windermere is possible to imagine working into my actual wardrobe.

Now if only I could download them instantly like it’s 2014. “Dear Rowan — You don’t know me but my name is Karen, and all I want for Christmas is for every Rowan-related pattern ever to be available for individual download …”



- Hot on the heels of Knit Wit, Pom Pom and Taproot, the second issues of both TAC and Trouvé have arrived — and they look pretty dreamy. As always, there’s a peek inside on each of their shop pages.

- The Japanese thread snips are back!

- I’ll have another small number of Fringe Supply Project Bags this week (the rest of what was meant to be my pre-Thanksgiving batch), and will be sending an alert to the shop mailing list only. So if you want to know when they’re available, make sure you’re on the list! (Sign-up box is in the upper right corner of the shop.) I expect to have one more small batch before Christmas, as will the three stockists.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Hearth Slippers

Blog Crush: The Craft Sessions

Blog Crush: The Craft Sessions

It occurred to me when putting together the last installment of Elsewhere how often I link to Felicia Semple’s Craft Sessions blog and yet I’ve never done a proper Blog Crush about it. Well! Felicia is the founder of the Australian craft camp known as The Craft Sessions — which I dream of one day attending — and started the blog (I believe) at the same time as the run-up to the first Sessions, a couple of years ago. In addition to her being a fantastic knitter and sewist, whose every project is worth an ooh and an ahh, the blog has become an outstanding resource over time, as Felicia is not afraid to write long. She picks a topic — from keeping a visual diary to picking the right sweater pattern — and digs all the way in. That means I don’t always have time to read as much of it as I would like, but I love knowing it’s there when I do — you know? Keep it up, F!


PREVIOUSLY in Blog Crush: Woolful — who, by the way, launched her podcast yesterday