Swatching for Bob

Swatching for Bob

Ok, I’m on the brink of casting on my first sweater for my husband. Let’s recap my concerns/criteria for this project:

1. He has to love it and wear it, which means
2. it has to fit perfectly and
3. not be too hot (i.e. not 100% wool) while
4. being washable and durable. But also,
5. I have to enjoy the knitting or I’ll never finish it.

We had decided Fort would be interesting enough for me to knit but not too interesting for him to wear, and to my surprise, he even wants the elbow patches. I believe I’ve narrowed the yarn down to O-Wool Balance, which has some nice heather to it, not too far from the look of the Shelter that Fort is designed for, but is a washable merino/cotton blend. I ordered two shades of green to have a good look at (along with a hefty load of charcoal for myself) and we both love this Emerald one, which is really a sort of earthy Blue Spruce hue (not a jewel tone) that looks awesome with his blue eyes. So far so good!

But given how daunting this feels — and also because I’m thinking of using all that charcoal for my Channel Cardigan — I’m being more diligent than ever about getting to know the yarn. I knitted this big ol’ swatch so we could get a feel for the fabric and the stitch pattern. I washed it, abused it a little bit, even threw it in the dryer, which it totally shrugged off. LOVE YOU BALANCE! But as for this stitch pattern, it’s been blackballed. Bob thinks it’s too chunky looking, and I can see his point. And as much as I think it’s more interesting than stockinette as a fabric, and I do love him enough to put myself through an entire sweater’s worth of k2/p2 if his heart desired it, I can’t say I’m sorry not to be doing that. So it looks like we’re going to stick with Fort and all its other nice details, just doing it in stockinette instead of this waffle texture.

And here’s the thing I really want to mention. It turns out there are quite a few people on Instagram who are about to embark on a sweater for their husbands (all firsts, I think!), so we’re doing a knit-along. A very loose one: all that’s been declared is that we’re knitting for dudes and starting on or about May 1. I don’t think we’ve picked out a hashtag yet, but keep an eye on my @karentempler feed or @byannieclaire, who is the ring-leader on this, and we’ll make sure it’s known when we have one. [UPDATE: It's #knittingforhimalong.] Do join in!


p.s. I also cast on another sweater this weekend. So much for small palate cleansers! Or is that what the swatch was?

Can we talk about this stitch pattern?

Can we talk about this Dries Van Noten stitch pattern?

You may have heard me talking before about how I go to my friend Leigh‘s once a month to eat and drink with a bunch of creative women, who all bring some kind of handcrafty thing to work on for the evening. Last week, my friend Liz showed up with some mending in tow, including this vintage Dries Van Noten sweater vest, which I promptly stole from her. (Temporarily! I’ll give it back.) (Probably.) (I mean, she knows where I live.)

It’s an argyle sweater vest, right? Except it’s Dries Van Noten’s take on an argyle sweater vest. It’s bright blue and grey on the bottom; grey, green and another blue up top. It has pink ribbing around the neck and armholes, and a zipper halfway up one side. It’s crazy and amazing, but can we talk about the stitch pattern? I honestly can’t figure out what’s going on here, especially with the sort of double-dashes that run across the diamonds and appear to be simply woven straight across the fabric. If you have thoughts on how any of it is done, please disclose below.

Can we talk about this Dries Van Noten stitch pattern?

SPEAKING OF CRAZY: I don’t know if it’s the end of tax season or what, but I’m in the mood to pack edibles into the Fringe Supply Co. shipments again! So from now through Sunday, all orders $30 and up (not including shipping) will come with a ginger cookie — my treat.



Blog Crush: True Brit Knits

Blog Crush: True Brit Knits

One of my favorite blogs is nearly impossible to read, but I mean this strictly in a technical sense. True Brits Knits is Belinda Boaden and Wendy Baker, and you’ve no doubt seen multiple references to it/them here in the past. I love love love their blog, but can only get to their posts by way of a feed reader, or a permalink posted on social media, or what have you. I don’t know what my glitch is, but I do know that persistence pays off! (And here’s the Bloglovin page from which you can get to the individual posts if the site itself isn’t working for you either.) ANYWAY! The point is, however you get to it, get to it. I love the mix of mood boards and trend watching and swatches and sketches, and all the playing around with scale and texture — so inspiring. And you never know what they might be getting up to with patterns. (Remember Pendleton?) Most recently it’s this tricked-out aran sweater, The Highland Bling, which I like to pretend they made with me in mind. If ever I were to wear sequins, they would have to be ironically crusted onto a fisherman sweater, right? Brilliant.

Blog Crush: True Brit Knits

SPEAKING OF AMAZING CABLES: To my immense astonishment (and gratitude!), the enormous stack of Cable Fashion Drama I had, which I thought would last awhile, is already down to a handful of copies. I’m hoping to be able to score some more of them, but at best we’ll be waiting for the slow boat again. Just so you know.


A very twisted selvage

A very twisted selvage

Last night, I went to Claddagh Yarns for a talk by Narangkar Glover (maker of the Knitters Graph Paper Journal) about color theory and knitting. Without giving it a moment’s thought, I wore dark jeans, black oxfords and a black-and-ivory striped tee. But I at least I was knitting with purple yarn!

You may be wondering what’s become of my Tag Team Sweater Project sweater since Seattle, and though it looks barely changed, there’s been a fair amount of knitting. On the way home from Seattle, I picked up stitches for the buttonhole band. (The pattern gives actual stitch counts between buttonholes, and I approve of the placement, so I wasn’t worried about calculating spacing.) Picking up 3 stitches for every 4 rows, as indicated, I wound up with about 56% of the prescribed number of stitches. Like: whoa, major discrepancy. Although I couldn’t explain it (we stuck to the pattern length, and our row gauge might be different but not that different), it was clear that if my stitch count was so far off from the pattern’s, I wouldn’t be able to use its stitch counts for the buttonholes, so I had to abort that mission. Back home, over the course of a few different sittings, I redid the pick-up several times. I knitted one whole band to completion to prove to myself that it was way too short. Ripped it out and picked up higher and higher ratios of stitches before realizing the problem was exactly what I had expected on day one: the selvage stitches.

Trillium has a selvage treatment called Wrapped Chain Selvage (which is called Twisted Stitch Selvage in Slade). Anna and I debated whether or not to do it — I feared it would eventually complicate my life, but she wanted to try it, and you know I do like to try new things so I was persuaded. Then I sort of forgot it was there. With normal stockinette, there’s the usual running thread between every edge stitch and the one next to it, and you pick up stitches in the gaps between those threads. With WCS/TSS, each gap is two rows tall, with the corresponding running threads being twisted around each other, tight enough that you might not notice it’s out of the ordinary. So instead of picking up stitches in each gap, you pick up one in a gap, then plunge the tip of your needle between those two twisted strands and pick up a stitch from there. Oy. At least I finally figured it out, and the bands were short work after that.

So all I have left now is the sleeves, which I’m downsizing from the pattern. Think I can get through them in a weekend?


IN DRAMATIC WEBSHOP NEWS, the hotly anticipated Cable Fashion Drama is back in stock! This slender-but-jam-packed Japanese pattern book generated a waiting list as long as my arm — I’ve never seen anything like it. But the waiting list people have all been alerted to its presence, so it’s time for you to have a crack at the stack. You can order your copy right here.

Also freshly restocked: Japanese thread snips and row counters, Bento Bags in large natural linen, and two other waiting list items: the Indian rosewood crochet hook in size H and the bone DPNs in smaller sizes, US2 and US3. And might I suggest a tasty treat to go with?


Happy weekend, y’all. What are you doing while I knit my sleeves?

Organizing my to-knit list

Organizing my to-knit list

I’ve decided to try something new this year — a little thing called planning. Remember when we talked about this? Most of the things I noted in that August 2013 post are still on my wish list! And I’ve been especially itchy lately because there are so many things I want to be knitting and so many yarns in my stash I want to be knitting with, and yet I keep casting on totally other things. Monday night I sat down and made a list of the sweaters I currently think A) I want to knit and B) will contribute to improving my wardrobe situation (as opposed to impromptu knitting projects making matters worse). They are as follows:

1.) I’m thinking about a worsted-weight version of the aforementioned Perkins Cove Pullover by Pam Allen, and am thinking it could be lovely and immensely useful in the navy blue Worsted Twist that my friends at Purl Soho sent me. Definitely a three-season, go-everywhere sweater for me.

2.) There’s a simple top-down sweater in my head that I really want in my closet and that I think would be perfect in Shibui’s Pebble (held double), which I’ve been dying to find the right project for. Would be a workhorse in one of the lighter greys — not sure which one yet. (Swatching with the Abyss I have handy.)

3.) I am absolutely knitting Jared Flood’s Channel cardigan, as noted before, and ordered a skein of O-Wool Balance (organic cotton and wool) to see if that might be the right year-round yarn for it. Thanks so much to Hagen and Vanessa for the recommendation. The skein arrived Monday eve and it’s marvelous — before I’ve even swatched with it, I ordered a sweater’s worth … and then some. If it doesn’t prove to be perfect for Channel (although I think it will), there’s no harm in having a pile of luscious charcoal yarn on hand, am I right?

4.) I also plan to finish my army-green Slade, which will be another wardrobe staple, but since it’s the warmest sweater on the list, knitted in Shibui Merino Alpaca, I’ll chip away at it between now and next winter. Also since it’s stockinette and worked in pieces, it’s easy to squeeze into gaps.

?.) And last but not least, I’m going to sleep-away camp not once but twice this year! (So excited — one trip with my whole family, plus I’m finally going to Squam!!) And I like the idea of knitting a little tee or tank of some sort for that and other purposes. I’m thinking maybe a scaled-down version of Bristol Ivy’s Kit Camisole, or something like the Purl Bee Cap Sleeve Lattice Top or the Riverine Pullover from last summer’s Pom Pom. But I’m probably better off sewing for this scenario, which I need and want to do anyway. So this one’s a maybe. (I’m also working on rounding up the latest great summer patterns since there’s been a flood of them recently. Here’s last year’s roundup if you missed it.)

Them’s the sweaters. There are nine months left in the year, and I have to estimate an average of six to nine weeks per sweater, since I’ve sworn off monogamy. One thing I learned from working on nothing but Trillium for five straight weeks (still ongoing) is that monogamy makes me batty — and a little resentful of whatever it is I’m being faithful to. Plus there are also these items on the list:

• Bob and I have settled on Fort for the first sweater I’ll knit him — I’ve just been waiting to find the right yarn. For him, it absolutely cannot be 100% wool, and ideally it will be washable, but I’m not wild about superwash yarns. After getting that Balance in the mail on Monday, though, we’re both thinking it might be just the ticket and have ordered two more colors to test for him. That’s one more sweater on the list.

• I’m still committed to making some kind of shawl for my mom … just as soon as I can figure out which one!

• There’s another pattern in my head that has to get out — a wrap that I’d love to publish through someone else. I’ve swatched this (right idea; wrong yarn), have extensive notes, and might enlist a sample knitter for it once I swatch with what I think will be the right yarn. But this is a must happen, one way or another. It’s just too good.

And I still want to crochet and weave and macramé and knit footie socks, and allow myself to squeeze in other satisfying little quick-finish projects along the way — to pick up new skills, work with some of the single-skein beauties in my stash, act on whatever new patterns come along that demand to be knitted, etc.

So that’s a whole lot of knitting for the year (nine months), especially if you’re me! I have to be realistic and flexible about this list: If I’m a slave to it, the things on it will feel like obligations instead of desires, which will take the fun out of it. But if I don’t at least write this all down and post it publicly, I’ll get to the end of 2014 with a bunch of random FOs and none of this accomplished. So there you have it.


New Favorites: Helga does it again

New Favorites: Helga does it again

My lack of Pinterest time is showing. How else to explain that Helga Isager released a new collection of knitting patterns in December and I’m just now seeing it? The Map Collection doesn’t quite leave me feeling faint like some of her previous designs have, but it’s great stuff nonetheless. It’s very ’80s — some of it maybe a little too ’80s for my comfort — but I am in want with these four pieces.

Top to bottom: The Normandy Sweater, Shetland Cowl, Siberia Anorak (love those pockets, not sure about the funnel neck), and Himalaya Sweater.

You can browse through the whole collection on her site. Doesn’t look like it’s been printed in English yet, but there’s cause for hope.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: A bit of mesh

This is not a pretty picture

Sampling the Channel Cardigan

It’s grainy, it’s a little blurry, it had to be converted to black and white because the carpet and walls are just too horrifying for me to inflict on you, but I wanted to show you this picture anyway. It’s me at VKLive last Sunday, wearing the sample of Jared Flood’s Channel Cardigan. Talk about feeding an obsession — is it awesome or what?! I liked it before — thought it looked like a ton of fun to knit — but now that I’ve had it on, I can’t stop thinking about it. There is no question I’m knitting it (and probably before or concurrent with poor old Slade). The only question is what yarn. I want it to be something with outstanding stitch definition, obviously, but not quite as hot as the BT Shelter. I’d like to be able to wear it for most of the year, so I need some kind of wool-cotton blend or something. Not pure cotton, preferably a tweed or heather. If you have suggestions, I’m all ears!

Also, FYI, I got to spend a couple of hours knitting with the illustrious and adorable Ann Shayne (of Mason-Dixon Knitting) this week, and she posted a tiny video of me knitting Portuguese style. I don’t know how helpful it is, but for everyone who was left curious after my inadequate description of the process …

New at Fringe Supply Co: Bookhou!

In other news, there are some thrilling new things in the webshop today, which some of you will have seen at Stitches West and/or VKLive. Carrying Bookhou goods has been a goal for me since the launch of Fringe Supply Co. Maker Arounna Khounnoraj is sort of an idol of mine — I’m stunned at the amount of talent and taste and hard work in this one person. And her sewn goods are not only beautiful but imminently useful and attainably priced. So I’m thrilled to finally have her storage box and assorted pouches in store.

Also, by popular demand, the “high-fiber diet” design is now available as a letterpress print! The perfect companion to the Yarn Pyramid. I hope you love all of it!


Happy Friday, everyone. Please do tell me what you’re working on this weekend!