The accidental V-neck

The accidental V-neck

Last Wednesday night I cast on my quickie black raglan sweater, and I began knitting it in earnest the next day while stuck in a waiting room for a couple of hours. I knew I wanted to make the drop from the back neck to the front a little deeper than I have on improvised top-down sweaters of the past. And this is a crazy fast bit of knitting. And my mind was elsewhere. I didn’t even have a ruler on me, just a rough idea of how tall I wanted my little crescent of fabric to be before I cast on the front neck stitches and joined in the round. So mindlessly I knitted, and quickly it grew. Even when I was casting on only five stitches, it didn’t occur to me what I had done. Late that night, I pulled the little yokelet over my head and … duh! … I’d made a V-neck by accident. A sort of gentle V, since I had cast on 5 stitches and not none, but a V-neck nonetheless. Given how fast it was to knit that bit of yoke in the first place, it would have been nothing to rip it out and start again, but I pretty much instantly decided to live with it. As I see it, I have two options: embrace it, or take it as a design challenge. By the latter, I mean creating a little V patch like a sweatshirt (always my favorite thing), which could be knitted a few different ways or could be wool gauze sewn on, which would be a pretty marvelous little detail.

I’m not really a V-neck wearer, so it feels a little foreign to me, and it’s obviously unlike my original sketch, in the upper left corner up there. I still want that sweater, and will very possibly still want that sweater (and still want it to be black) if I finish this as a V-neck. On the other hand, maybe the universe was trying to tell me something. If I decide the V isn’t filling up that whole in my heart, I can always rip out whatever edge treatment I put on it and do the patch thing instead. So for the moment, I’m embracing it. But it did mean stopping to ask what kind of hem treatment and what shape of sleeve will work best with the V. After sketching it out (such a necessity for me!) I’ve decided the original shape and details are still best, so I’m headed for the lower right sketch. As fast as this is going, we’ll know how it turns out in about 10 minutes.

NOTES: There is no pattern for this sweater. I am improvising it, and you can too: There’s a whole top-down tutorial right here. This yarn is Lettlopi, worsted-weight Icelandic wool, knitted on US10.5 needles at 3.5 sts and 5 rows per inch.

Anna Vest KAL: pattern details

Anna Vest Knitalong: Pattern details

Hey, happy Saturday — just popping in with a quick addendum to Thursday’s official plan for the Anna Vest knitalong. There’s less pattern detail on the Ravelry page than I had realized, so for those who don’t already have the book to refer to, here are the vitals:


Approximately 520 (603, 688, 774, 873, 968) yd / 476 (552, 630, 708, 799, 886) m worsted-weight yarn

Shown in Thirteen Mile Worsted (100% Organic Wool, 210 yd / 192 m per 100 g skein). Color: Light Gray Heather; 3 (3, 4, 4, 5, 5) skeins. (See Thursday’s post about a yarn discount from Tolt.)


Needle sizes are recommendations only. Always use needle size necessary to achieve given gauge.

Needle A: Main Fabric
US8 / 5.00mm straight or circular needles; optional DPNs for pocket linings

Needle B: Ribbing
US6 / 4.00mm straight or circular needles (two sizes smaller than Needle A) and 16-in circular for armhole edging

Needle C: Button Band
US5 / 3.70mm straight or double-pointed needles (three sizes smaller than Needle A)

2 stitch markers, blunt tapestry needle, 5 18-20mm buttons and matching thread and needle to attach


20 sts / 27 rows = 4 in / 10 cm in Andalusian Stitch with US8 needle


Womens’ Sizes S (M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X); shown in size M
Chest Circumference: 34 (38, 42, 46, 50, 54) in / 86 (96.5, 106.5, 117, 127, 137) cm
Intended Ease: 1–2 in / 2.5–5 cm for a tailored fit; 4–6 in / 10–15 cm for a slouchier look

The model is wearing the size M/38″ with 3″ of positive ease.

ALSO: I thought the book was available as either a print or ebook, but it turns out the digital version is included with purchase of the print book and not sold separately. My apologies for being misleading/confusing on that point. For those of you concerned about the Canadian conversion rate,  there are a couple of Canadian stores that have stocked the book, so check to see if you can order it from them — Bad Anna’s in Vancouver and Beehive in Victoria.

The official plan for the Anna Vest knitalong

The official plan for the Anna Vest knitalong

Ok, lovelies — I’m thrilled so many of you have piped up to say you’re psyched about knitting the Anna Vest with me next month! So here are all the official knitalong details—


We’ll be knitting my Anna Vest pattern, which is contained in the book Farm to Needle, published by and available through Tolt Yarn and Wool. It’s a really beautiful and important book full of several fantastic patterns along with profiles of the yarns and the farms they come from. And it’s available as a print book or an e-book. For pattern sizes and yardage, see Ravelry.


The pattern is written for the remarkable undyed worsted from Thirteen Mile (which you can read all about in the book!) and my friends at Tolt have kindly offered 10% off purchases of this yarn (undyed or plant dyed) for knitalong participants. Use code ANNAVESTKAL at checkout — offer good through 02.03.16.


Official cast-on day is February 15th, and I’ll kick things off that day with a blog post about how to knit the inset pockets. Other than that, this is a super casual knitalong — no deadline, no sign-up process, no prizes, no panelists. Just some knitters happily knitting together, and winding up with great garments!


Tag your pics and projects with #annavestkal on social media and Ravelry so everyone can see what you’re up to.


Please note that there’s an error in the print book: “Page 73, Next row (WS): BO 6 sts, work in pattern to end of row, continuing neck shaping as follows:” — should be deleted. It seems to only be a problem for the Right Front (Left Front is okay).”


One thing I want to note about choosing a size for this pattern: When I finished the predecessor to this vest and wore it to Stitches South, countless people of all heights, shapes and bust sizes came into the booth and asked to try it on, and it looked awesome on every single person! It looks good slouchy, with positive ease, and just as good fitted, with negative ease. I almost didn’t have the pattern graded for that reason, and have now seen the Anna sample on a range of bodies as well, and witnessed the same phenomenon. So while the pattern does offer a range of sizes, I’m mentioning that you almost can’t go wrong with the size 38.

So that’s it —I’m really looking forward to knitting this with you all!

Queue Check — January 2016

Queue Check — January 2016

This whole Queue Check series of posts started rather spontaneously last year, but reading this IG post by Sara yesterday I realized how truly helpful it’s been in keeping me organized and on track and accountable to myself. Not that I’ve finished everything I’ve started, or never ventured off course, but at least there’s a record of it all to refer back to! So here’s where things stand in this first month of the year—

Bob’s sweater — there’s light at the end of this tunnel; hoping to finish within a week
Seathwaite Hat — waiting for me to have a quiet daylight moment to do the join round on the brim
1898 Hat — waiting for me to finish Seathwaite
My grey sweater — on hold until after the quickie black raglan

– The quickie black raglan Lettlopi — casting on the instant I finish Bob’s (improvising it)
– The Penguono x Joseph cardigan — delayed by the snowstorm, but it should be cast on this Saturday
– Version 2 of my modified Hemlock Tee in this salt-and-pepper Italian wool
– Blue-and-white stripe cotton tunic — i.e., first of several sleeveless band-collar Gallery Tunics

But wait! You may recall there’s one more WIP on the shelf — the black vest I cast on last fall from my own Anna Vest pattern. I mentioned before I’d love to do this as a (totally casual) knitalong. If I set a date for sometime in mid/late February, how many of you would want to join me? It’s a perfect winter-into-spring garment!

p.s. I’ll be knitting and available to offer advice at Craft South tonight from 5-7. If you’re in the Nashville area, come knit with me!


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: Queue Check Deluxe: Holiday 2015

KTFO-2016.1 : Wool gauze pullover

KTFO-2016.1 : Wool gauze pullover

This year I want to do a better job for myself and the blog of documenting how the things I make wind up being integral parts of my wardrobe rather than random disembodied garments. (Part of the whole mission to make things that do so, you know.) That objective is inspired in part by my friend Jen Beeman of Grainline Studio, who happens also to be the pattern drafter behind this great pullover, which is a modified version of her Hemlock Tee, details of which I’ll get to in a moment. It’s arguable whether this is truly my first finish of the year, though — I hemmed that blue dress the day before we left for Florida, so technically that was first, but I’m not convinced it’s finished. I think I’m going to make it sleeveless! So that will be for another day.

For now, I present you this woven pullover I’ve been talking about since October, which in this first iteration is every bit as good as I had hoped. You may recall this whole thing started when I was professing my love for my beat-up old sweatshirt and lamenting the fact of there being exactly one pullover in my closet as we headed into colder weather. I knew sewing a few woven replicas of that sweatshirt would be quicker than knitting sweaters, and time was of the essence. My thinking took a little detour when I saw that Karen Walker top with the knit ribbing, but once I was cutting muslin and working out my pattern, I found myself heading back toward my original vision, and am very happy with how it turned out. It’s a fantastic layering piece. Now that I have the pattern worked out, I can surely whip one out in under three hours. It doesn’t take a lot of fabric — this one was sewn from some scraps of an amazingly light and warm wool gauze I bought a few weeks ago (for $15!) when Elizabeth Suzann was clearing out some fabric. And it will be just as wonderful and useful in linen as it is in wool.

In this case, I photographed it with some of my oldest and dearest: my trusty Endless Summer Tunic, my 15-y-o me-mended jeans, and a beat-up pair of ankle boots. But you can see from the sketches up there how versatile it is! I can’t wait to make more.

Pattern: Hemlock Tee by Grainline Studio (modified, see below)
Fabric: Unknown black wool gauze
Cost: free pattern + $15 fabric = $15

. . .


– Re-drew the front neckline for a smaller, higher neck opening

– Straightened the sides (removed the A-line, in other words)

– Marked where I wanted the finished length to be (based on my beloved sweatshirt), then drew the cut line for front and back pieces 1.75″ above that

– Widened the sleeves an inch on each side without any change to the upper curve of the sleeve cap; redrew the underarm curve accordingly

– Sewed the shoulders, sleeves and side seams according to the pattern instrux, but with a 3/8″ seam allowance, because I’m weird like that

– Neckband is a 2″ bias strip, pressed in half lengthwise, attached (while stretching pretty aggressively) to the right side of the garment with a 1/4″ SA, then folded upwards and pressed; top-stitched in ivory with longer stitch length (3.5) and black bobbin thread

– Waist band is two pieces each 4.5″ x [the finished width of the garment + 3/4″], pressed in half lengthwise — I seamed two ends together (right sides facing, 3/8″ SA), then lined them up with the garment and marked where to sew the other ends so the circumference would match the body; then attached with right sides facing and 1/4″ seam allowance; folded down and pressed, and top-stitched in ivory, same details as above

– Hemmed sleeves to the length I wanted, turning them 1.5″ twice and stitching as close as possible to the fold line

Winter silhouette 3: Everything over narrow

Winter silhouette 3: Everything over narrow

In the interest of keeping it realistic, this third and last “silhouette” for this winter is also pants-based — I’ll save learning how to wear skirts and dresses (and finding time to make them) for spring. So there were the skinny pants and the wide-cropped pants, and here we have the pants in between: a narrower shape that’s still a bit cropped but straight in the lower leg. This includes the made-in-L.A. Point Sur/J.Crew jeans I mentioned in the last post as well as a pair of awesome tobacco-colored men’s chinos from the unworn pile in my closet, which I’m having altered. I often buy men’s pants because they fit me better in the rise and lower leg than narrow-cut women’s pants, which seem to be made for people with no calves. However, men’s pants are generally too wide in the thigh. In high school, I was in the habit of reshaping the legs myself, as well as hemming them, but the fact is I hate hemming and would way rather pay someone to do it. If it costs me fifteen or twenty bucks to take these pants from never-worn to always-worn, so be it! (But before this year is out, I’m vowing to attempt to sew a pair of pants for myself.)

Here’s the amazing thing I’ve discovered: this whole wardrobe planning thing works! Thinking it through like this, I zeroed in on a few very high-impact pants decisions — buying a new pair of jeans (the right pair!) to replace the two failing pair, buying the wide-cropped pants I’ve been yearning for that give a whole different look to things, and altering the unworn chinos, which are another welcome alternative to jeans. And by thinking through the tops and narrowing it down to things that really work in combination with each other, I landed on these three pieces that really are amazing building blocks. You can take any of the top combos from all three of these winter silhouette posts and put them with any of the pants — the only exception being the boxy pullovers on their own, which isn’t an option with the skinny pants. But basically now the pieces I own and the few pieces I’m making add up to an incredible number of possible outfits, whereas before it was all missed connections.

I finished the first version of the woven pullover over the weekend and will post details on that soon, and have gotten Bob’s sweater to the point where I can imagine reaching the end of it, at which point I’ll cast on my quick little black sweater. And in the meantime, there will be tunics. But already, it’s way easier to get dressed in the morning.

It occurs to me I also apparently mean to only wear one pair of boots this winter: I drew every one of these outfits with the same combat boots. But for a lot of these looks, all that’s needed when transitional season comes is a change of footwear.

So almost two years after tearing it all up (gawd, I just reread that post — wow) I finally feel like I’m getting the upper hand over my closet again.


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Winter silhouette 2: Boxy over wide-cropped

Winter silhouette 2: Boxy over wide-cropped

Winter silhouette 2: Boxy over wide-cropped

In a moment of weakness (hypocrisy, really) and desperation for some pants to wear this winter, I broke down and bought a pair of wide-cropped black jeans from J.Crew.* While I’m not happy about their unspecified origins — and can only hope against hope that they were made in a respectable factory — I’m extremely relieved to have them. Other than those black skinny pants from winter silhouette 1, I’m basically down to just two pairs of disturbingly threadbare jeans. (Every time I leave the house in either one of them, I think “today’s the day the crotch rips open in public.”)  So not only were these needed, they are sliding right into my wardrobe the way a hardworking garment should.

As previously discussed, what looks modern to me with regard to this pants shape is a cropped, boxy top layer — either on its own or over a tunic-length top — but I’m also really loving a tucked-in top for the first time in a long while, and that could be a tee or a woven top. So these examples are easy outfits built from the same pieces you’ve seen before — those already in my closet or my current queue: the tunic(s), the woven pullover, the black lopi raglan. Of which, all I’ve accomplished so far is working on a muslin for the woven pullover, which underwent some design changes in the process. More on that front soon!


(Indispensable Fashionary Panels via Fringe Supply Co., as usual.)

*I also invested in a pair of Point Sur jeans — J.Crew’s new line of jeans made in Los Angeles. I’m thrilled that they’re doing this and want to support it. And while I’ve never spent anywhere near that kind of money on jeans before, I understand the cost and also think it’s a reasonable expenditure, since I’ll wear them a thousand times.


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Winter silhouette 1: Short over long over skinny