Elsewhere, new goods, and come to Nashville!

Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

I have a little Elsewhere for you today, for starters:

I also want to talk to you about Stitches. Many of you have asked if I’ll be having a booth at Stitches West again this year, and after a lot of deliberation, I’ve decided not to. One of the many reasons is that Stitches South is moving this year, from Atlanta to my newly adopted hometown of Nashville! So I’m concentrating my energy on the (hopefully) much bigger booth I’ll have at Stitches South in late April, and I’m encouraging you to come. If you’ve ever thought of traveling to Nashville, I can’t think of a better time. The Stitches shows (where I learned so much of what I know) are so worth going to — whether or not you have to travel to get to one — but they’re generally near destination towns, not in them. South will be right here in Nashville, at Opryland. So in this case, you can partake of the amazing classes and the marketplace and get to enjoy the town. It also coincides with the Nashville Flea Market, which I’m told is ranked in the top-ten fleas in the country but I can tell you is the best flea I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot. Restaurants, music, hiking trails, the flea, and a chance to attend Stitches. Why would you not come?! I’ll have more to say about it between now and April, but you should seriously take a look at the class schedule and give it some thought. Grab a friend and come together!

Elsewhere, new goods and Stitches South!

And I have exciting shop news: First, there’s some amazing micro-batch yarn from Abundant Earth Fiber, which you can read more about right here. Because there is so little of it, I’m declaring that it will be for sale at 10am CST this morning, and when it’s gone it’s gone, so set an alarm. Also, as noted above, the Wabi Mitts kits are back in stock in all colors and larger quantities this time, so hopefully you can get the one you’ve been wanting! And the beloved wooden gauge rulers are also finally back in stock.

Happy shopping, happy reading, happy knitting, and happy weekend!


PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere

Knitalong FO No. 5: Anna Dianich

Knitalong FO No. 5: Anna Dianich

As you know, the mega-event known as the #fringeandfriendsknitalong started simply with my dear friend Anna Dianich and me wanting to knit a fisherman cardigan, and her gorgeous, woolly version is now complete. Here are her final thoughts—

You were knitting for Team Seam, following the pattern as written. The flat pieces/seamless yoke hybrid is not a construction method either of us had encountered before. What were your thoughts on all that in the end? Were there times during the knitalong, seeing other people’s progress, where you wished you’d done anything differently?

Yes. I was constantly doubting myself and questioning the pattern as written. Many times I thought how silly it was that I didn’t do the sweater seamlessly and wondered if I should have not done the button bands as written. Now that the sweater is done I am very happy that I chose to be Team Seam! I actually feel much more confident about seaming sweaters and, I can’t believe I’m saying this, I actually enjoyed the seaming process. I did follow your lead and seamed my raglan sleeves. They look so much better and there is more strength in that area that gets stretched and pulled every time I slip my arms into the sleeves.

You’re the first panelist to have completed the button bands as written — that is, casting them on with the waistband, then setting aside those stitches, knitting them the rest of the way separately and seaming them on. Had you done a vertical band before? What do you think of it, and tell us about having gone through with the ribbon backing I bailed on. (Should I regret it?)

I felt like I had made a big mistake by doing my button band this way. After seeing everyone else picking up for the button band I thought that doing a vertical button band would be more complicated and fussy. I have never done a vertical button band like this before (actually, this is the first time I’ve heard of it) but it was just fine. I did have a freak-out moment when I tried on the sweater after doing the button band (and before blocking) and the button bands flipped open, I had this same issue with my New Treeline Cardigan. I am happy to report that this is no longer an issue — the blocking fixed that problem.

I didn’t plan on doing the ribbon backing, but after all the hard work that went into this sweater I really wanted to add a little something special. Again, this is something I’ve never done before but after late night texting with Tif and a reading a couple of online tutorials, I dove right in. I am very pleased with the way it turned out, and I also enjoyed the process and learning a new skill.

As you’re knitting this sweater and approaching the join at the underarms, the pattern tells you to end your sleeves on the same chart row as you ended your body pieces, so the yoke patterning will line up. For some of us, because it’s a 40-row chart, this meant making the sleeves a little too long or the body a little too short. But you had a revelation that escaped the rest of us.

As you know from knitting my Lila sleeves, I have long arms. I wanted the sleeves to be a bit longer but if I had ended the sleeves at the same place in the chart as the rest of the pieces, the sleeves would be way too long or too short. I decided that as long as the honeycomb pattern matched up it didn’t matter where I was in the diamond pattern.

Brilliant. You chose a really woolly wool for your sweater, and I think it’s gorgeous — I keep saying it looks like a cloud compared to mine. Are you happy with your yarn choice for this pattern?

I knit my Amanda using Imperial Yarn Columbia 2-Ply, which is considered a worsted-weight yarn but it it really acts more like an aran. When I knitted the swatch, I loved how dense the fabric was — this sweater would keep me warm and toasty here in the cool and foggy PNW. My problem is I love my 6″ x 6″ swatches dense like this but I need to imagine how an entire sweater would feel knit this densely. I mean, I still need to bend my elbows, right? As I was knitting, I worried that this sweater would be like a very heavy straightjacket, but after washing it the fabric relaxed and bloomed and it’s perfect! I should have trusted my swatch.

I’m so glad you texted me that night and said you couldn’t get that girl’s sweater out of your head, because this all turned into such an amazing experience. You basically started all of this! — are you happy with how it turned out? And are you eager to embark on another cable sweater or have you had enough?

I can’t take credit for this. I did want to knit the Chicago-to-Manchester-Airport-Fisherman-Cardigan, but you were the one who found the perfect pattern. And if it weren’t for this amazing knitalong that you hosted and the talented panelists, my Amanda cardigan would still be sitting in a project bag next to my other neglected knitting projects. This amount of cables can be intimidating, but I was really surprised how easy this stitch pattern was to memorize. And doing this project really built my confidence in knitting cables without a cable needle, dropping down and fixing cables, and seaming.

I am THRILLED with the way this sweater turned out!  I had many, many doubts and if I did it again I would make my neckline a bit higher, but I really love it. I actually love it so much that I am a little scared to wear it. I’m nervous about having things spill on it. I take it off when I drink coffee, and I eye my kids’ fingers before they reach out to touch my sweater. No peanut butter and jelly on my Amanda, please.


Thank you, Anna! Some of you may be wondering what happened to panelist Amy Christoffers. Unfortunately, life happened and she had to bow out awhile back. But Rebekka Seale is still knitting and has taken a fascinating detour. I’ll talk to her about that on the blog next week!


PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: Basted knitting: Or, how (and why) to seam a seamless sweater

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


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


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


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


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


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 —


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!


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.

There is such a thing as knitting too quickly

There is such a thing as knitting too quickly

The speediness of Bellows has been backfiring on me a little bit. I went racing into it without the kind of care and consideration I try to exercise, and as a result, mistakes have been made. Before I cast on the first stitch on that plane two weeks ago, I did study the schematic and strategize about size, with my swatch’s gauge in mind. What I hadn’t done is blocked my swatch. I guess I thought I knew what it would do when soaked because I knitted my Amanda in this yarn. But was Amanda held double? On 11s? With this textured stitch? Nope.

So hasty mistake number one: I cast on a larger size, the third size, because of my apparent smaller gauge. Sped through the first sleeve. Soaked it. Blocked it, and was impressed that, with only a little coaxing, it pinned out to the third-size dimensions just fine. “Oh, so I needn’t have worried about any significant difference in gauge,” I blithely mused … without completing that thought. I sped through the second sleeve, and only then realized — duh! — that if my blocked gauge is pattern gauge after all, my sweater will be the third-size dimensions, not smaller as I had wanted. So what I had on my hands was two sleeves for a sweater with almost 10 inches of ease, when what I wanted was 4-5 inches. What to do? Well, Balance is machine washable, so I crossed my fingers and threw them in the wash to see what might happen.

They came out beautifully and I laid them out gently closer to my desired dimensions, so I think all is well. But I confess these embarrassments to you guys in the hope that someone (if not me) will learn from my mistakes. Block your swatch!

Hasty mistake number two: I forgot to mirror the cables on the second sleeve, so both sleeves have right-twisting cables. I think this one is partially haste and partially ambivalence. As much as I love and want this sweater, I don’t think this is the most compelling cable motif. But, eh, so they all twist one direction — not the end of the world.

The one other “mistake” I made on purpose. When I knitted the first sleeve, I worked the cable in the cuff ribbing, even though I don’t like that. I almost never like that. I thought about not doing it, and I’m not sure why I went ahead with it, but it bugs me. So I didn’t do it on the second sleeve. I may leave it alone and call it asymmetry, or perhaps I’ll rip out the first cuff and re-knit it downwards without the cable.  I’ve never done that sort of surgery before and have huge admiration for all who do, and here’s a good small-scale opportunity to try it. Right?

I’m taking at least one day off this weekend, hoping for a fair chunk of knitting time, and that’s what I’ll be working on! How about you?


p.s. that great flat Bookhou pouch is coming back to the shop soon.

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.


PREVIOUSLY in Pre-Fall 2015: Camel sweaters