Knitalong FO No. 3: Kate Gagnon Osborn

Knitalong FO No. 3: Kate Gagnon Osborn

As you know, Kate Gagnon Osborn is the #fringeandfriendsknitalong panelist who took the most liberties with the Amanda pattern as we went, and I’ve been as eager as the rest of you to see how it turned out. It’s awesome to see that it’s still Amanda and yet not Amanda — and such a good example of how a pattern can be just a jumping off point for an intrepid knitter. Here are Kate’s final thoughts on the project—

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Kate, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m so glad I asked you to be a part of the official panel for this knitalong because you’ve contributed so much to it — not only in the form of blog posts but by completely reinventing Amanda in front of our very eyes. Can you first just briefly summarize the modifications you made?

I’m so glad you asked me! I felt a little bad when I was going rogue, so I’m really glad my contributions were helpful.

“Briefly summarize”? Courtney would argue that’s never possible for me, but I’ll try!

SLEEVES:
• Cast on fewer stitches for the cuff, increased more sleeve stitches in arm to match the number for the Size M

FRONTS:
• Added a braid on either side of the diamond cable pattern, reduced the honeycomb stitches on the sides
Lowered the neck shaping

BACK:
• Added 1 more diamond cable and one braid for a total of 3 diamonds and 2 braids, reduced the honeycomb stitches on the sides

OVERALL:
• Worked set-in sleeve instead of a raglan
• Picked up stitches for the buttonbands
• Lengthened body and sleeves by 1/2 repeat
• Worked all 5 pieces separately and seamed

That’s a lot of mods. And it turned out beautifully. Were there any points in the knitalong, watching others knit the sweater differently, where you wished you had done something a different way?

Gah … I know! And half of them weren’t intentional! Besides adding more cables (which many may not notice at first glance), the biggest structural/visual mod I made was to convert from a raglan to a set-in sleeve. This was actually totally unintentional — I meant to do a raglan all along, but I discovered deep into the back raglan shaping that the addition of the third diamond cable made for really wonky raglan decreases, so set-in sleeves were a much better aesthetic option. A really lovely element of the original design is the way the cables on the sleeves and body beautifully connect at the raglan seam, so a part of me regrets not having this in my sweater to honor Lene’s vision. While I really love the finished product, a small part of me does still wish I could have just left well enough alone and knit the sweater as written!

Adding those extra diamonds and braids (which meant subtracting a lot of honeycomb) gave it a very different look from the average Amanda. Are you happy with how that worked out?

In the long run, yes, I am. I like odd numbers, so I love the three diamonds on the back, and love the look of a braided cable, so I’m happy I added more of them. It definitely caused me more difficulty in sorting out the sweater — there were long stretches where I never consulted the pattern — but I really love the end result.

The other significant design departure you took was with the button bands. The pattern is written for vertical 1×1 ribbed bands. Why did you opt to pick up stitches for horizontal bands instead, and can you also tell us about your decision to increase the number of buttons?

You and I have spoken a lot about the way the button bands are written in the pattern. In all of the images, the seaming appears to be a non-issue, but I was, admittedly, concerned about the way the button band would join to the body without being seamed all the way down. Others with more foresight than I thought to work the button band simultaneously on a smaller needle, which is genius, but I was too far deep into my fronts before considering this as an option. Once my sweater pieces were complete and it was blocked and seamed, I still had the option of doing the button bands vertically and seaming them on. I tried a few different methods of working the selvage stitch, but nothing looked “perfect” enough, so I ended up picking up stitches and working each band, then working the neckline. I chose to work more button holes because I knew I was going to want to button it up at times, so I wanted to avoid the gaping at the bust that sometimes occurs when not enough buttons are used.

By the way, many people say they don’t love picking up stitches for a button band because of the risk of it waving or being stretched out and causing “ruching” on the sweater body. For a fail-safe button band, all you need to know is your stitch gauge (S) and row gauge (R). The ratio of S/R = the ratio of picked up stitches. As an example, if you have 16 sts and 20 rows to 4″, your ratio is 16/20, or 4/5, so you’d pick up 4 stitches for every 5 rows along your front edge.

You were one of the most vocal members of Team Seam, so you were always planning to knit the sweater in pieces, as written. But the pattern has a seamless raglan yoke, which I think you were originally planning to work flat and seam as well, before you decided to switch to set-in sleeves and seamed shoulders. You were averse to the seamless yoke no matter what, correct?

For the Amanda, I didn’t quite see the point of knitting the body in pieces and the yoke in one piece, so it was my intention all along to do the raglan yoke in pieces. When I made the change to a set-in sleeve sweater, keeping it seamed was a no-brainer.

Despite my love for a classic Lopapeysa yoke sweater, I am a firm believer in sweaters with seams, especially at the armholes/shoulders, where garments are stretched out a lot when worn. Some of my love of seaming stems from the yarns I use most frequently — the Fibre Company yarns have a lot of drape, so a good seam is a really key ingredient to a long-lasting garment — but it is mostly because of my sewing background and how I see most garments constructed. I also much prefer knitting smaller pieces, as so much of my knitting is worked on the go. I know (and really respect) people who are not as seam-obsessed as I am, so I do try to stay open-minded and see the benefit of that way of sweater construction. (I think Jaime’s answer to her choice to go full-seamless is really thoughtful and intelligent and a good lesson on how yarn choice and desired end result can go a long way to inform process. And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a sweater quantity of Heirloom waiting to be knit up!)

You’ve also said you loved this project because it gave you a chance to knit a sweater for yourself, as opposed to a pattern sample that will travel around to shows and shops instead of living in your closet. Are you happy that sweater was Amanda? And do you have any idea what your next personal knit will be?

Yes! It was complicated enough that it kept my interest, and the end result is very “me” in style. I went through a phase where I exclusively wore cardigans, but (inexplicably) switched to pullovers a year or two ago. Now I’m trying to meet in the middle, and Amanda is the perfect balance, as I can wear it open, but I can also button it up all the way.

My next personal knit? Oh my … I haven’t actually thought of one yet! After an eight-year hiatus, I recently got back into spinning, so I think I am going to try to spin enough yarn to knit myself a sweater.

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Thanks again, Kate! And you can also see/save Kate’s sweater and notes on Ravelry. I so love how different our three finished panelists’ sweaters are so far — Jaime’s, Meg’s and now Kate’s. Anna, Rebekka and I are all still cranking along — and ironically, our three sweaters are the most alike so far — but it may be a few weeks before I have any more finished sweaters to show you! The #fringeandfriendsknitalong hashtag is still going strong, so keep on knittin’ on!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: FO No. 2: Meg Strong

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?

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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?

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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.

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

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Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Knitalong FO No. 2: Meg Strong

Knitalong FO No. 2: Meg Strong

Knitalong panelist Meg Strong dropped by my studio yesterday so I could take the finished photos of her Amanda (in the grainy rainy-day light) and it was all I could do to let her have the sweater back after she kindly permitted me to try it on. As I told her, if I saw this sweater walking down the street, I would totally accost the wearer, ask if it was hand-knit, take a photo, text with Anna about possible pattern choices, and inadvertently launch a whole knitalong in pursuit of that sweater. So there you go!

Meg kindly answered a few questions for us all—

You were sort of playing for both teams — Team Seam and Team Seamless. You knitted the body in one piece but then worked the arms flat, right? What was your reason for not knitting the sleeves seamlessly as well?

In my early days of knitting, I would consider patterns only that were written top-down, for one reason: terrified of seaming!  After knitting many a sweater that met that one requirement, I found they all would tend to fall off my shoulders as the day wore on.  With a little research and many a discussion with knitters that had many more years experience than me, the verdict was that seamed sweaters give your garment structure.  I wanted to keep the sleeves seamed for that one reason, structure. The seam will help keep the sleeve shape with all the tugging that goes on when putting a sweater on and pulling it off.

The decision to knit the body in one piece as opposed to seaming, as the pattern dictates, was made for a few reasons. In a previous post, I explained that I tend to not be overly excited about knitting the same thing twice. So I tend to work both sleeves at the same time.  Same for left and right fronts of a cardigan. The Amanda pattern incorporates these panels of the honeycomb cable, which creates a very rigid, dense fabric.  Knowing the fabric produced would be rigid, I decided to cast on for both left and right fronts along with the back, and worked the body in one piece.  The gamble paid off — the sides are stable, due to the stitch, and the sweater body isn’t “walking” around my body.

Are you happy with your choices? Were there moments in the knitalong where you wished you’d done something the other way around?

Absolutely! Happy with every decision I made!

You’re also the first of the panelists to have attempted a shawl-collar modification, which worked out stupendously — I am totally coveting this sweater. (And it fits me perfectly!) For those like you who had cast on the button-band “tab” along with the waist ribbing, and were thus committed to a vertically knit button band, do you care to share how you did it?

First, love this method of working a button band! The first sewn button band I worked was the Linney Cardigan from Amy Christoffers. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing, just following directions, but after I wore the sweater numerous times, I knew why that button band was sewn on. It all goes back to structure — again, all the tugging that goes on when putting on a sweater and pulling it off. That button band looks every bit as good today as it did fresh off my needles.

My modification for the shawl collar began on the sleeve joining row. For specifics, definitely take a look at my project page on Ravelry. In general, I decreased 1 stitch at each edge, every other row, until I reached the “neck shaping” directive in the pattern, then continued working the pattern as directed. The actual shawl collar grew out of the button bands. I worked the button bands up to the point that my v-neck modification began, then began to increase 1 stitch, after working the established edge stitch, until I was satisfied with the width of the shawl. For me, that was after I had increased to 31 stitches.

You mentioned to me when we were taking these pics that you realized along the way that you don’t really wear crewneck cardigans, so it’s good that the notion of a shawl-collar mod came up as we were knitting. Are you happy with how it turned out? Anything you’d do differently if you had it to do over again?

I absolutely love my Amanda! I tend to knit items for the meditative aspect of our craft and rarely knit for the challenge. For some people, knitting miles and miles of stockinette fabric absolutely drives them nuts. I, on the other hand, am in absolute bliss. For me, Amanda was a challenge knit — not from a difficulty perspective, but it’s one that required brain power that I usually don’t bring to the knitting table. I will say, however, by the time I got to the yoke, I had the chart memorized and was able to allow my brain to wander and enjoy. I have this overwhelming sense of accomplishment when I look at this sweater. Seventy-five days ago, this sweater was nothing more than yards and yards of yarn — beautiful yarn, but yarn! I am always amazed at what one can create with two sticks, some string and desire. Amazed.

Oh, to the “anything I would do differently” question: yes, how about neglecting to do the first buttonhole and mis-crossing a cable? I would like a do-over on both of those. Who has a magic wand?

And will you be cabling again anytime soon?

Ha! I treated myself to a sweater’s worth of Windham from Jill Draper Makes Stuff, and thought for sure that I would cast on today for a nice relaxing stockinette sweater. I have spent the better half of the day perusing patterns, and every one I have considered for this yarn is, you guessed it … cabled!!

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Thanks, Meg! You can see more pics of Meg’s finished sweater on her Ravelry project page. And by the way, there are two more completed shawl-collar Amandas, that I know of: Trm26 on Ravelry and @wendlandcd on Instagram (and Ravelry) — both gorgeous!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: FO No. 1: Jaime Jennings

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 …”

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UNRELATED SHOP NEWS!

- 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.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Hearth Slippers

Giving thanks … for Meg’s mod

Giving thanks ... for Meg's mod

There are so many things I’m thankful for today: the friendships I have gained by becoming a knitter, the fact that you all find this blog worth reading, my wonderful husband and family. And also: this photo, which I flagrantly stole from #fringeandfriendsknitalong panelist Meg Strong. (Who, you know, taught me to knit in the first place. So thankful for Meg.) In addition to wondering how best to go about converting Amanda into a shawl-collar cardigan, I’ve also been wondering what it would look like. Would I love it as much as I think I would? Add to that the fact that I’ve reached that point where I am bored to tears with the monotony of this chart, feeling like if I don’t get to the join soon, I may never get there at all. And then this photo pops up on my phone, and all faith and enthusiasm are restored!

As with Jaime’s, I’ll have a Q&A with Meg here on the blog when her sweater is complete, but in case you also needed a boost — or the mod notes — in the meantime, I wanted to share this with you today.

If you’re in the US, I hope you enjoy your turkey! And no matter where you are, I hope you take a minute to count your blessings. Thank you for being one of mine!

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PREVIOUSLY in #fringeandfriendsknitalong: FO No. 1 Jaime Jennings