Yarn is magic

Yarn is magic

It’s late Thursday night as I’m typing this, and I’m supposed to be putting together a big, juicy Elsewhere list for you, but I spent the majority of the day up to my bloodshot eyeballs in spreadsheets, filing my sales tax return, and my brain is DONE. So instead I’m showing you a pretty picture of my Channel Cardigan in progress. Ooooohhhh.

I swear there were about seven hours during the spreadsheet ordeal where I had my teeth clenched and forgot to exhale. But then before I left the studio, I went upstairs to where this beautiful floor is and pulled everything out of my bento bag and took this picture — and in the five minutes I was with the yarn (not even knitting it!) a bunch of the stress just slid right off me. Yarn is magic.

Have a beautiful weekend, lovely people. Tell me what you’re working on!

.

p.s. That ridiculously great pouch up there will be in the shop as soon as I can get it shot and listed, along with its friends. Sorry to tease you! But I latched onto it the moment it arrived.

New Favorites: Lena Samsoe’s fisherman cardigan

New Favorites: Lena Samsoe's fisherman cardigan

To call this Amanda cardigan a “new” “favorite” is the most hilarious of understatements. It’s been on my Ravelry favorites list for over a year, but it recently surfaced again. And it goes well beyond favorite and deep into obsession territory. I’ve long been planning to knit myself an ivory cardigan, to replace one I had to retire, and have been searching for just the right pattern. And you know I love nothing more than a good fisherman sweater. But I resolved to make my ivory cardigan an aran one after a layover in the Chicago airport in early June. Anna and I met up there on the way to Squam and found ourselves stalking a woman in the boarding area. We were convinced she was headed for Squam, too, and thought she might actually be one of our shuttle-mates. She was wearing flip-flops, jeans, a cute indigo floral-print top, and the most gorgeous handknit fisherman cardigan. We stared and whispered and speculated, and Anna finally worked up the nerve to ask her if she was Squamwardbound. She had absolutely no idea what Squam was and was definitely not who we thought she was. But in the aisle of the plane, standing around the baggage claim in NH, we couldn’t take our eyes off her sweater. So Anna approached her again and asked if she could take a picture. The girl was not a knitter, but she said she loved the sweater because she suspected it was handknit (I can’t remember how she said she came into possession of it), and it definitely was. It was gorgeous.

Not long after we were back, Anna texted me while I was out for a walk one night and asked me if I remembered that sweater. I said I hadn’t been able to get it out of my mind, and she asked if I knew a good pattern. I’ve bookmarked many over the past few years — remember it was the idea of knitting my own fisherman that made me want to know how to knit in the first place — and I eventually found my way back to this pattern, Amanda by Lena Holme Samsoe. I try really hard to focus on downloadable patterns here on the blog, but this one is from a book, Essentially Feminine Knits. I ordered it the moment I rediscovered the pattern, got it in my held mail upon return from NC, and there are a bunch of good sweaters in there.* I know this because I did flip through it quickly when I pulled it out of the envelope, but once I got to the Amanda page I laid it open on my desk and it’s been sitting there staring at me (and vice versa) ever since.

So I’ll be rearranging my to-knit list a little bit to make room for Amanda right after my Channel. (OK, there may be some overlap.) Anna wants it in wool and I want it in cotton or a blend (more Balance, perhaps?), and we’re thinking of knitting it together beginning in September. Not tag team, just knitalong. Let me know if you want to join in!

.

*Check out this woman who seems to be knitting her way through all the sweaters in the book! Including two Amandas.

.

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Groovy crochet tunic

Knit the Look: Vasilisa Pavlova’s waffle sweater

Knit the Look: Vasilisa Pavlova's waffle sweater

Knit the Look is hard in the summer, but we’re all ready to dream about “transitional looks” right about now, am I right? I love the simplicity of this outfit on Vasilisa Pavlova: a beautifully proportioned waffle-stitch sweater in ivory paired with a black mini. (For me, that would be shorts.) Tahki Stacy Charles has a free pattern that’s a good starting point here, the Biella Pullover. To make it look like Vasilisa’s, knit a size with 6 or 8 inches of positive ease. For the body, start with 6 or 7 inches of ribbing, then skip the waist shaping and knit another 7 or 8 inches in the waffle pattern (depending on how long you want the body of your sweater to be — the slightly short length is key here). Same thing for the sleeves — knit a nice long ribbed cuff before starting in on the waffle work. Wear with everything you own.

For the rest of the outfit, see Vanessa’s original post.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Or, make that crochet?

.

Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

 

Best. Swatch. Ever.

Best. Swatch. Ever.

You all know I’ve had Channel on the brain (and the approved knitting list!) since trying it on back in March, but my fever escalated around the time of Squam. I was packing for that trip, knowing it would be cool nights and mornings, and was shocked to have nothing suitable: no sweatshirt and only super wooly sweaters that I could not bring myself to put into a suitcase in June. What I wanted and needed was my Channel cardigan — the one I’m planning to knit in this fantastic O-Wool Balance, which is an organic, washable, cotton-wool blend that knits up into a light, airy, not-too-warm fabric. I.e., the perfect all-seasons cardigan. I have two more trips this summer that all but require this sweater, except of course the sweater does not yet exist. But behold my swatch! The best swatch of all time.

I wanted to practice the charted stitch pattern, and particularly the English Rib portion, which is a little conflictingly described in the pattern. The chart includes the two ribbed sections and the chevrons in between, and I added five stitches of moss stitch on each end, since that’s what happens in the sweater. However, gauge for the sweater is actually given over moss stitch, not the charted stitches, so after knitting a few repeats of the chart, I switched to moss for a couple of inches, which gave me the necessary four vertical inches of moss to measure my gauge. The swatch has since been machine washed (it came out practically dry! damn, I love this yarn) and measured, and I appear to be spot on pattern gauge. And the fabric couldn’t be better for what I’m wanting. I had a blast knitting this, so I’m as eager as can be to cast on.

Of those two upcoming trips I really want this sweater for, one of them is next week. And though it’s not an opportunity to wear it, I hope to do a meaningful amount of knitting on it. I’m traveling with my entire family (in celebration of my parents’ 50th anniversary) to a retreat place somewhere in the mountains of NC, where I’m told reception is spotty, at best. I’ve got blog posts queued up for you, but:

IMPORTANT SHOP NOTE: I’ll be packing orders this weekend and will drop them at the PO Monday morning on our way out of town. The rest of the orders from Sunday through Friday will ship during a special session on Saturday the 26th. So if you’ve got something you know you need next week, get your order in today!

Togue Stripes

Togue Stripes

Verdict on this tank sweater: BIG LOVE. So quick (actual combined knitting time), so simple, so useful here in the land of 90-something-degree days. Dress it up, dress it down. And it’s forever entwined in my memory with Squam — this yarn and the green needles and porch floor and weathered decking were just the most soothing and pleasing visual combination. I love love loved it.

Togue Stripes

As you know, I wanted a cross between Pam Allen’s two recent tank sweater patterns. I wanted the weight and gauge of Togue Pond with the look of Saco Stripes — specifically the A-line shape, plain lower edge, stripes (obviously) and wider “straps.” So here’s what I did:

— Knitted it in the Kestrel yarn (in Pebble and Senza) using the Togue Pond pattern (second size).

— Omitted the waist ribbing and short-row shaping — I simply did one purl round after the cast-on and then worked straight in stockinette.

— Cast on with US10 needles and worked the first couple of inches, then switched to US9’s, then to US8’s after the top stripe. When I do it again, I’ll just start on US9’s; it’s already getting to be a little more flouncy at the waist than I’d like.

— Anticipating that it would grow with blocking and over time, I knitted it shorter than I wanted it. Unfortunately, I didn’t write it down, but I think it was 13 or 13.5 inches before dividing for front and back. After blocking and a couple of wears, it’s now 15 inches (not including the ribbing).

— I worked the first stripe 3 inches (I think) from the cast-on edge. The Senza stripes are 2 rows each, with 6 rows of Pebble in between.

— I staggered my waist decreases a little differently (just keeping them in the grey), and did fewer of them. When it came time to divide for front and back and work the armhole shaping, I had eight more stitches than the pattern called for, which gave me two extra stitches in each “strap.”

— I did the 3-needle bind-off for the shoulders with wrong sides together, so the seam is exposed. I also have a bad habit of forgetting to bind-off when doing a 3-needle bind-off — I just do all the k2tog’s and wind up with a row of live stitches. So then I go back and pass the stitches over each other to bind them off. Which actually makes a nice substantial looking exposed seam.

— I had seen comments on Ravelry that people were picking up fewer stitches for the neck/arms than the pattern called for. I picked up 96 for the neck and the same number as the pattern for the armholes.

— To counteract the growth tendency, I deliberately did my bind-offs a little on the tight side.

— I did not do jogless stripes, and I did not carry the Senza yarn up the sides either, because I knew it would show through, given the loose-ish gauge and high contrast. So when weaving in each of those Senza ends, I did one duplicate stitch from the right side of the fabric to even out the jog, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Our first evening in Nashville, we were over at our friend Jo’s for BLTs. I wove in the last of the ends on her deck and she threw it in her washing machine while we ate, then laid it out to air dry. I’m already in love with the fabric and know it will just get softer over time, so definitely put me down as a linen convert.

Togue Stripes

New Favorites: Martin Storey’s mega cables

New Favorites: Martin Storey's mega cables

If it’s anywhere near as hot where you are as it is where I am (hooray, we finally made it to Nashville!) this photo might make you recoil. But this is one of my favorite things I saw at the trade show in May, and I’m happy to see the pattern is now published. It’s Brecon by Martin Storey and it’s somewhere between a poncho and a cardigan, which I would expect to hate, but I love it. Or at least I remember loving it. Based on my reaction to it at the time, I feel certain I’ll be longing to knit and wear it once the temperature starts to dip. But it is kind of hard to imagine at the moment.

.

SPEAKING OF MY MOVE, things continue to not go as planned (which I guess I should have expected) so shipping is going to continue to be not-quite-daily for the time being. I’ve got a note at the top of the webshop about next projected ship date(s) and will keep that up for as long as it’s sporadic. Back to normal soon! (Or else somebody please shoot me.) But thank you to everyone for your patience in the meantime.

Cross-country knitting

Cross-country knitting

True confession: I had a meltdown on Monday morning. All I’m gonna say is our move did not go as planned — thanks, U-Haul! — and the long packing/loading/cleaning nightmare that should have ended on Sunday evening was nowhere near over. I woke up Monday in the guest room at my cousins’ house totally overcome with exhaustion and anxiety about the day ahead and gave my husband the impression that he might need to check me into a loony bin somewhere. Thankfully, I’m an ox (moments of weakness aside) and we have amazing friends and neighbors, and by Monday evening we were finally — finally! — out of our loft and into our car, pointed east. I told you a couple weeks ago that I had been managing to sneak in a few rows of knitting here and there to save my sanity, but it turns out that had ended shortly before that post. By the time we got into the car, I hadn’t knitted a stitch in thirteen days, and you’ll all understand when I say that was a contributing factor.

ANYWAY, among the many beautiful things about being in the car is that I can finally knit again. Hallelujah. But here’s the thing: I barely have! Between Tahoe and Salt Lake City on Tuesday I finished the upper part of the front of this tank. And between SLC and Denver on Wednesday, all I did was pick up and knit the neck. The landscape is so relentlessly stunning I didn’t want to take my eyes off it for even a second, but the combination of staring out the window (not packing!) and knitting a little bit here and there has been wildly therapeutic. And the happiest thing I have to report is that, despite previous misgivings, it fits perfectly. It should be done by Kansas City.

Have a fun-filled 4th of July weekend, y’all!

.