New Favorites: For him

New Favorites: For him

So that stockinette sweater I’m about to be knitting for my poor handmade-sweater-deprived husband? I’m harboring fantasies that after I finish this one, I’ll get away with knitting him something more interesting. I’d love to knit and see him in any of these—

TOP: Shire by Lisa Richardson looks especially great in this low-contrast color palette

MIDDLE: Cotswold Henley by Meghan Babin features some first-rate texture blocking

BOTTOM: Mount Robson Pullover by Jessie McKitrick, well, you know how much I love a military-inspired sweater

Might just have to knit that last one for myself.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Mega blankets

Cowichan-style Knitalong — the WINNERS

Cowichan-style Knitalong — the WINNERS

I have to say, I think it’s funny that there’s an expectation of prizes with big knitalongs. To me, the prize is your sweater! And there have been so many winners in that regard. I think I said already that I was expecting fewer sweaters to come out of this Cowichan-style Knitalong than the last one (it’s a vest, a Cowichan-style vest, from a Japanese pattern, with colorwork worked flat …) BUT I am so beyond thrilled with all that has come of it. Everyone who has participated so far — and it’s by no means too late! — has been so thoughtful, inventive, enthusiastic and eager to try new things; it’s just been inspiring and heart-warming all the way around. It’s really hard to pick favorites or prize-winners, but I’m glad for the opportunity to shine a spotlight on these three—

ABOVE: The grand prize winner — who’ll receive a $100 gift certificate to Fringe Supply Co. — is Ella Gordon. We talked a lot during this knitalong about cultural sensitivity issues relating to the appropriation of the Cowichan style. Ella was working from a different Japanese pattern, which had teepees as the main motif. If you’re familiar with Ella, you know she is a serious student of knitting traditions and a collector of sweaters from across all of them. She also lives in Shetland, not the PNW, and teepees have no particular cultural meaning for her. So for all of those reasons, she replaced the teepees with the croft houses that dot her own native countryside. I found it both clever and touching, and her finished vest is just fantastic. You can read all about it and see more photos on her blog and her Instagram feed, @ellalcgordon.

And I’ve got two $50 gift certificates for these two:

Cowichan-style Knitalong — the WINNERS

Jess Schreibstein, above, played around with much more ambitious and traditional motif ideas before settling into a minimalist version of a Cowichan-inspired vest. She tackled the Cowichan method of float-trapping* — I’m so happy about how many people took this on! — and wound up with a garment that’s totally her own and looks great on her. For lots more gorgeous pics of this vest in progress, see her Instagram feed, @thekitchenwitch.

Cowichan-style Knitalong — the WINNERS

At a glance, Claire Allen-Platt’s finished vest looks like a great garment that’s pretty true to the pattern (and obviously I approve of her color usage!) but I think she’s one of only two (?) people to knit it in the round and steek it. She also tweaked the motifs a tiny bit to make the main one a little less snowflake-like — and it fits her perfectly. Tweaked and steeked, I like it. See her Instagram feed for more, @claireallenplatt.

Ladies, send me an email (karen at fringeassociation) to collect your prize!

If you haven’t seen the full feed, check out #fringeandfriendskal2015 on Instagram, where you’ll get to see @nappyknitter’s socks, @luckypennyknits’ dog sweater, original designs by @carolsundayknits and @whit_knits, and so much more. And like I said, it’s never too late to jump in. We still have two more panelists to hear from!

*See the video tutorials linked in this post.

Queue Check — October 2015

Queue Check — October 2015

I’m sure you’ve all been on pins and needles wondering what happened — did I finish my Cowichan-ish vest in time to wear it at Rhinebeck? I can’t believe I didn’t say so in my Rhinebeck report, but yes, yes I did. Wellllllll, sorta. The zipper needs a little more attention and I haven’t decided what I’m doing about the armholes yet, so that’s one last detail to be tended to. But I love it, I wore it, so did Amber, and I hope to have pics of it soon, at which point I’ll interview myself for the series. I also finished my gorgeous Laurus that same weekend.

If I could drop everything and cast on anything I wanted right now, hand to heart it would be another Cowichan vest, with another mega zipper. However, there are more pressing matters. For one thing, there’s my Slotober Frock, which I honestly still haven’t made up my mind about, so it’s not looking like it will be finished before Slow Fashion October comes to an end. That’s fine and just, right? Then the thing I cast on after the last Cowichan end was woven in (oh lord, so many ends) was the aforementioned black version of my Anna Vest. I’ll be at Tolt for the anniversary and book launch party on the 7th, and I thought it would be fun to wear my vest from the book, but those six inches of knitting you see up there are all I have, so there’s no way that’s happening. I am crazy about the way the Terra is knitting up in this stitch pattern — an unexpectedly perfect fabric — so while I can’t wait for this to exist, the fact that I won’t have it in time for the big event means the project is downgraded, while these two skip ahead:

1) Bob’s first sweater. How long have I been promising this? Forever. It’ll be knitted in this great deep blue-green O-Wool Balance and it will be a classic rollneck pullover. I’m thinking saddle shouldered, but I’ve not knitted a saddle shoulder before. Research to do.

2) My perfect grey pullover.  We’ve talked about this treasured Sawkill Farm yarn — I just need to make up my mind about the pattern. Do I want to do the Purl Sweatshirt Sweater? Improvise a perfectly basic top-down crewneck (with basted seams, of course)? Or apply aforementioned saddle-shoulder research to my own sweater, too. (I mean, this is pretty perfect, right?)

Decisions, decisions. Thankfully there’s the next Hatalong hat, launching tomorrow, to alleviate all the stockinette stitch in my future.


PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: September 2015

New Favorites: Big ol’ cozy pullovers

New Favorites: Big ol' pullovers

After getting that little preview of winter at Rhinebeck last week and having the temperatures finally drop into the 60s here in Nashville this week (along with the loveliest soft fall rain), I’m beginning to dream about cozying up in a big ol’ wooly pullover. Either of these would do nicely:

TOP: Onske by Olga Buraya-Kefelian is Olga’s answer to the sweater that broke the Internet, designed for Woolfolk’s new superbulky Hygge. I personally would knit it more oversized and at a tighter gauge, but I really want this sweater!

BOTTOM: Butte by Pam Allen is designed for bulky-weight Quince and Co Puffin. I love a good yoke sweater (am doing a lot of lopi fantasizing these days as well) and like that this one combines a basketweave yoke with reverse stockinette body.

Seamless and big-gauged, either one would knit up in a heartbeat.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Farm to Needle

Cowichan-style Knitalong FO No. 2: Meri Tanaka

Cowichan-style Knitalong FO No. 2: Meri Tanaka

Our second Cowichan-style Knitalong panelist with a finished vest is Amirisu editor Meri Tanaka, with her sprightly colored interpretation. Below she talks about what worked out for her, what didn’t, and how she embraced it all. For more from Meri, follow her on Instagram and the Amirisu blog. And if you missed our earlier Q&A about how to read a Japanese knitting pattern, make sure you check that out!

. . .

You knitted your vest with a single strand of Puffin (bulky) to get the size of the vest down. How did you like doing the colorwork with Puffin, and how do you feel about the fabric for this pattern?

Oh, I love the fabric! If I had been knitting in a tighter gauge, or in the round, it would have been much easier. Because I wanted to maintain the puffiness of the fabric, for the yarn to bloom when blocked, it was very challenging to keep the stitches even on the wrong side.

You mentioned you were struggling a little bit with the stranding from the purl side when swatching and I wonder whether you got the hang of it over the course of this vest. Were you trapping your floats Cowichan-style, i.e. trapping every other stitch? Or how did you do it?

I did get used to it toward the end, but it required a lot of trial and error. I knitted the back panel in Cowichan-style trapping, about half of it, but was not very happy with the result. The stitches tend to get uneven this way, because of my moderate/loose gauge. Before I blocked it, I ended up pulling yarn from the wrong side here and there to make the stitches look more even. You can see the difference clearly when you look at the front panel. If you look at the red leaf-like pattern, strands are trapped on the right front, but I didn’t do it on the left front. I figured that it looks so much better if I don’t bother doing it.

In addition to knitting at a finer gauge to get a smaller sweater, you modified the motifs to affect the row count. Tell us about the changes you made in that regard. And are you happy with the motifs you came up with?

Yes. I wanted to make this vest very fitted with zero or negative ease. To avoid looking like wearing a kid’s vest on a women’s body, I made it longer, which is about the same length as the original pattern. I added 10 rows to the lower body, by adding a triangular dot motif and a red line, as well as replacing one of the main patterns. I wanted to replace the geometric box-line motif with something more organic, so I did a lot of Google Image Search to find one that I like. I charted the motif on graph paper, which took no time at all. I am very happy about the result!

Did you make any other mods to the pattern?

When I began knitting the back panel, I was shocked to realized that some parts of the armhole edge (solid color stripes) require intarsia, and to avoid it I needed to trap the main color all the way across to knit the second armhole. The same situation happen for fronts, all the way from the bottom to the end. I didn’t like the idea of doing intarsia on the front band, where I will be pulling hard all the time, nor trapping the MC yarn where there is nothing else to knit on the other side like the upper back. Which is why I knitted the front band separately, in ribbing.

I was a little nervous whether it would work out, but it turned out to be quite easy. I picked up 2 stitches per 3 rows on the straight edge, and a stitch per every row on the neck edge slope (19 stitches). From there, the front collar was shaped by Wrap & Turn — work in rib for 15 stitches, W&T, work in rib to the end, turn, work in rib for 13 stitches, W&T, etc.

The other mod I did was to add pockets on the sides. To do this, I left about 4″ unsewn where I wanted the pockets to be, and picked up 22 stitches (11 on each side), worked 18 rounds (4″+), and grafted it together in Kitchener Stitch. It was easy, and I love how it turned out.

Watching everyone else knit their vests — both on the panel and in the larger community — was there anything you saw that made you wish you’d done something differently?

When I decided to knit the front bands separately, my initial intention was to attach a zipper instead of buttons. To do this, I figured that knitting the front collar by itself then crocheting on the straight edge was the way to go. But that meant I would need to recalculate the front collar. The biggest reason I abandoned the idea was that the body was more fitted than I had expected (though my gauge was spot on — I guess my hips are bigger than I imagined!), and I needed the button band to add a bit of width.

I saw what you did with your vest — I cannot wait to see it finished!

If I should knit it again, which is very likely, I will change the main motif entirely, so that changing the size would be more flexible and easier. Perhaps one big motif on the back, and something smaller on fronts. The idea excites me, and I’ve already started thinking about which colors to choose!

It seems like we’re all bound for at least one more vest! Thanks so much, Meri!


PREVIOUSLY IN #fringeandfriendskal2015: FO No. 1, Andrea Rangel (full series here)

Cowichan-style Knitalong FO No. 1: Andrea Rangel

Cowichan-style Knitalong FO No. 1: Andrea Rangel

Andrea Rangel is the first of our illustrious panel for the Cowichan-style Knitalong to finish her vest — not too surprising since her swatch was two entire front panels of the sweater! She’s answered some questions for us below about how it turned out, and you can see additional photos on her blog.

For more from Andrea, follow her on Instagram and sign up for her newsletter. And I also want to let you know she’s on the brink of publishing a revised, unisex version of her Dude sweater as well as a kids’ version! Would you look at this photo? So keep an eye on her in whatever venue for more news on that!

. . .

You mentioned at the outset that you had chosen a yarn that was “not one bit” Cowichan-y. And you’ve also knitted this with a single strand at bulky gauge rather than superbulky. How do you feel about the weight and character of the fabric in the end?

This is the most important question about this project for sure. I used Rowan Brushed Fleece, which was just this frothy, fluffy puff of a super soft yarn. The gauge is great and the yarn was fun to work with, but I’m still not really satisfied. As I worked I felt increasingly ridiculous for using such an incredibly luxurious, soft yarn for outerwear that I would hardly have against my skin. I’ve decided that, while I do quite like the finished vest, the yarn would be much more suitable for a pullover or neckwear so I could take full advantage of the yummy softness. It would also be more sensible to have a more serious, rugged wool for a vest like this. At the beginning of this project my first impulse was to go with Imperial Yarns Native Twist or Quince and Co. Puffin, and for the next iteration of a bulky vest, I’ll go with one of those (or now that Brooklyn Tweed has Quarry, I might have to try that too). I’ll see how much I end up wearing this vest to determine whether the project was a success or not in the long run.

You were also unsure whether you’d be happy with your color choices — what’s the verdict?

I like how it looks, but I still feel unsure how much it’ll fit into my wardrobe. The colors are so bold! The next vest will definitely be in more earthy or natural colors.

I’m in love with the main motif you came up with — the starburst shape — and they way you’ve positioned it so there’s one centered off each side seam, rather than being centered in the back of the vest. Where did all of that come from?

My husband actually helped me brainstorm that one a bit and then we just charted it out. I figured that since I was objecting to the highly decorative look of the motif in the pattern I’d try something totally different.

The size also looks fantastic — did you hit your target proportions and are you happy with it?

Yes! The size turned out great, pretty much right on the predicted numbers. I expected that it would given my (excessive) swatching — thank you, math!

Tell us what all modifications you wound up making, apart from the gauge/size tweaks and replacing the colorwork motifs.

I forgot to knit pockets, so I decided I must not have wanted them that badly. But I did round the armholes and add short row shaping to give a nice slope to the shoulders. I also worked the edgings, button bands, and collar with a smaller needle after completing everything else to keep them neat. The collar was improvised rather than bothering with the pattern and it’s a bit slimmer, which I like.

For the edgings and button bands, I used a US9 needle to pick up stitches at about a rate of 2 sts for every 3 rows. Then I worked a few rows in garter stitch and bound them off. I made one-row buttonholes, which is my favorite buttonhole method. For the collar, I used the traditional method that I described in the Cowichan q&a. To keep the collar relatively slim, I worked the front collars just to about an inch below the shoulder seam. Then I picked up and worked the back collar with the front flaps. Because this method requires you to join the back collar stitches with front flap stitches until the front flap stitches are used up, the top width of the front flaps (how many stitches you end up with after working the front flaps) determines how tall the back collar will be. If you keep picking up stitches and working the front flaps all the way to the shoulder seam, you’ll have a more generous collar than I ended up with.

As you’ve watched other sweaters taking shape on Instagram and Ravelry, was there anything you wished you’d done differently?

I was definitely jealous of the Puffin, Native Twist, and Quarry I was seeing. I just love those wooly wools so much! It’s been really fun to see everyone’s take on this and I’m happy with mine, but not so happy that I won’t keep pursuing this idea in other ways. Bulky vests are fun!

They really are, and it’s already clear to me there there’s another one in my near future. Do you mind if I steal your starbursts?

Not at all! In fact, I just posted my charts on my blog so anyone can use them.

Awesome! Thanks for everything, Andrea!


PREVIOUSLY IN #fringeandfriendskal2015: How to knit a Cowichan-style collar (full series here)

New Favorites: from Farm to Needle

New Favorites: from Farm to Needle

First, can I just tell you: I am blown away by the response to the Slow Fashion October kickoff. I’ve been reading all of the comments and blog posts (linked from the comments) and Instagram posts and their comments and ensuing discussions and … wow! I’m a little fearful of my ability to keep up with it all! But so thrilled to see that this has struck a chord and that so many people are into it. I’m more excited than ever to see what everyone has to say and share this month.

Second: This post is weird. But New Favorites is all about patterns I’m dying to knit, right? And right now at the top of that list is my own pattern. Weird, weird, weird. A lot of you had asked me to write out my version of the vintage men’s waistcoat I knitted earlier this year, but I really wanted to rework it from the ground up — different weight, stitch pattern, shoulder shaping, the whole nine yards. So when Anna officially asked me if I’d like to design something for her book — now known as Farm to Needle — given that Anna is a vest fiend like me, I suggested doing just that. And the Anna Vest pattern was born. The thing is: I didn’t knit it, and it’s not my sweater. I wrote the pattern and enlisted my amazingly talented friend and master sample knitter Jo Strong to do the principal knitting for me. I did the finishing and sent the vest off to be photographed, and am left wanting one of my own. So there it is: on my New Favorites list, with all the usual longing. (I also want the model’s braids.)

There isn’t a single thing in the whole collection that I wouldn’t love to make and have, but to my great surprise, the one other pattern I can’t get out of my head is Dianna Walla’s Aspen legwarmers (and socks), which must surely be the most fabulous legwarmers in history. Yes, I did just profess my love for a pair of legwarmers.

Weird, weird, weird.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Dress-down sweaters