Happy Friday, friends. I’ve got a nice varied stack of Elsewhere links for you below, but one tangential one first — from Grace Bonney as she closed Design Sponge after 15 years, a bit of advice I can simultaneously nod along with and continue to learn from, and I hope others will too: How to handle (and learn from) being called out. Please read and pass it along!
I’m still hosting an internal debate about my fall sweater. Now, in addition to the allover texture options, I’m weighing textured yoke possibilities. These are just a few of the contenders, along with previously mentioned Anker’s Sweater and Eldingar—
There’s a trick I have wanted to try for as long as I’ve known the term “short rows” but hadn’t until my Grace pullover — for reasons unknown. What finally prompted me to try it was that I was knitting this sweater out of chunky yarn and in pretty fitted proportions, the combination of which made the urge more pressing. What am I talking about? Making more room for my shoulders.
If you’ve been reading this blog for long, you know that (even before discovering the freedom of experimentation that comes with top-down sweater knitting) I learned to favor raglan sweaters at a young age because my shoulders are so broad that fitting into set-in-sleeve clothes is a challenge — if the sleeve cap seams hit at the tips of my shoulders where they belong, the garment will be too big for me overall, and vice versa. Raglans solve this in that there’s no sleeve seam to sit uncomfortably in the wrong place, but it can still be the case — especially on a snug pullover — that there’s not quite enough fabric to get over my big shoulders. It has always seemed to me that this should be addressable with short rows, and I’m glad I finally gave it a go!
This was an especially easy case for them, too, since the gauge of this sweater meant I could create extra fabric in only a couple of short-row turns. I’ve left my pink waste yarn in place for the pic up top so you can kind of see, but here’s all I did:
1) After separating my yoke into the sleeves and body and knitting a few inches of the body, as I like to do, I put my sleeve stitches back on my needles. (That’s the upper pink strand of waste yarn.) I’ve knitted my sleeves flat, as usual — picking up underarm stitches starting at the midpoint of the underarm (aka side seam), knitting across the sleeve stitches, and picking up the last few underarm stitches back to the midpoint — but this process would be the same if you were knitting in the round.
2) I then purled back across the WS of these stitches, stopping one stitch before the end of the row, and did a YO-and-turn. (You could wrap-and-turn, or whatever your favorite short-row method is.) Then knitted back to 1 st before the end of this third row, YO and turn. That’s one pair of turns.
3) For my second pair of turns, I placed them in line with my front and back raglan “seams.”
4) And then I worked my way back across the stitches one last time, closing up the YOs as I encountered them, to the end of the row. (That’s the lower strand of pink waste yarn.)
This amounted to a wedge of six extra rows of knitting at the sleeve cap before I continued downward with the full set of sleeve stitches as normal, giving me an extra 1″ of fabric to help accommodate my shoulders before worrying about my arms. For a finer gauge sweater, I would want to do the equivalent number of rows at whatever row gauge to create the same amount of extra fabric, and would distribute those turns within the underarm stitches.
This will factor into every top-down raglan I do from now on, stitch pattern permitting!
Hi, friends. How was your week? I’m supposed to be out of town right now but the universe has been tossing up nonstop roadblocks this week, to the point of also derailing my blog output. So rather than being ready to talk about my Fall making plans, or sharing a meaty Elsewhere list, I’m here asking about yours! (Mine are uncertain anyway — I’m hoping you’ll help get me unstuck.)
So that’s my Q for You for the long weekend: What are your Fall making plans? I want to hear about your knitting and/or sewing goals, patterns you’re fixated on, anything you’re willing to tell me!
And I’m also still hoping to finish crocheting my hat this weekend, even though I didn’t get the road-trip hours I was counting on … I’d love to hear your weekend plans, too!
The instant I laid eyes on my friend Denise Bayron‘s Grace pullover in Laine magazine’s IG feed, as you know, I knew it would be one of my three Summer of Basics projects, and it didn’t take long for me to decide to knit it in OUR Yarn, in Toffee. A chunky wool sweater is not on the Approved Closet Additions list, but I’ve wanted a pullover in this single-batch yarn ever since acquiring it for Fringe, and this was the perfect sweater for it — simple yet interesting. My hope was that the somewhat abbreviated shape would make it more wearable in my climate than a more voluminous bulky sweater would be, but that remains to be seen. Meanwhile, I love it.
So this is the first of my three SoB picks to be finished. I’m still hoping to finish the hat before this week is out. And while I don’t yet have the fabric for the dress to complete my proposed trio, I have sewn myself three dresses this summer! So I’m feeling good about that.
But back to Grace: Knitting it in this yarn meant doing my own math, since the gauge is different — I’m at 3.75 sts/inch vs the pattern gauge of 2.75 — but that was easy to do since it’s top-down. (Of course, I bought the pattern — the magazine — to compensate the source, even though I knitted it my own way. If you can’t get ahold of this issue, I believe Denise will be releasing the pattern for individual download sometime in November.) The challenge was only in maintaining Denise’s design details and silhouette while making up my numbers, and the only real trick in that was the neck. I really love the little retro slight-funnel neck, and wanted to preserve it, but more than that I love the way the cable panel not only runs right up onto the funnel but actually spans the full width of the front neck between the two raglans. Since knitting at a finer gauge would automatically mean my cables would be narrower, I had to choose among a few options: widening the cables, increasing the number of cables, widening the reverse stockinette field, or not having it fully span the front neck like that — none of which I wanted to do, but I could live with the first one.
By just slightly widening the cables (from 3 stitches to 4, which does create a different look for the cables themselves, unfortunately) and by shifting more of the stitches into the shoulder tops than what Denise starts with, I was able to preserve that key design detail. I also did an extra set of short row turns for the back neck, and placed them a little differently, given the gauge difference. When it came to the sleeves, in addition to knitting them flat, like I do, I did a thing I’ve always wanted to try, which was to put short rows in at the edge of the sleeve caps. (I’ll post more about that in a separate Details post!) In making my sleeve tweaks, I forgot to look and see what clever thing Denise had done with the decreases, so that part got left out. But otherwise, it’s pretty much as designed!
After finishing the sweater on Sunday afternoon, I was dying to wear it (for the length of a photo) with my striped linen pants … which were still just a stack of parts on my table. Thus motivated, three hours later I had these beauties. You’ll recall these (yet another pair of modified Robbie pants) were cut out of what was left of the Merchant and Mills stripe from my glorious caftan, and working out the stripe placement was tricky! I managed to use only the multi-stripe portion of the fabric and was able to place the pattern pieces in such a way that the adjacent black stripe disappeared into the seam allowances at the crotch and outer leg. The gaps left between the stripes at those seams are close enough to the original gap between them, as woven, that I don’t think you even notice! My big concern was how it would look where the stripes collide in the rear, but I figured worst-case scenario I’d have to always wear a long top with them. In the end, the butt is my favorite part! And how often can one say that in life?
The weekend before last, I sewed myself what I thought was the best summer frock I’d ever owned: a blurple caftan made with Merchant & Mills Indian Ink linen and some simple mods to the Fen top (details below). In addition to the color being completely amazing — rich and shifty — the fabric has an incredible heft to it and is a joy to wear. So when it came time to cut my next piece of linen this past Saturday — M&M’s Bonita stripe this time, which I’d bought from Fancy Tiger with pants in mind — I couldn’t stop picturing it as another caftan just like ol’ blurple. Only I had no idea how much more magnificent it would be. I’m thrilled with them both, but the striped one is pure magic.
The challenge of this fabric is that it’s an asymmetrical repeat — two multi-stripes, then one wide blank stripe, repeat — and I had debates with myself and among friends about how best to position it on the dress. After they pleaded for symmetry, I decided to place the wide blank stripe dead center, so my inverted pleats (front and back) would simply pull the two black stripes closer and then it’d fan out below the pleat, with the multi-stripes on either side. What I could not possibly have planned for even if I had tried was that this left the hip pockets I had mapped out on the blurple version perfectly centered over the multi-stripes, with the next set of multi-stripes (at the edges of the front and back) meeting perfectly in the center so they create a double-wide multi-stripe at the side seam. Cutting it out — flat, on the living room floor, so I could make sure I had every single stripe straight and identically positioned — was a job. But from the minute I began sewing, it started revealing all the other magic it had cooked up without me, and I was completely under its spell.
It might be the single best experience of my sewing life, and I’m madly in love with it. Hence the million photos.
Here’s how I made them, and how you can too:
Start with Fancy Tiger’s Fen top and dress pattern — you just need the two pieces for the top: front and back. Pick a size that’s a lot or a little big on you. I’m wearing this with a ton of positive ease, but I think it would look even better on a fuller figure with a bit less ease. All of this also applies to my black tunic version that preceded the dresses, by the way.
1) For the front pattern piece, trace the round neck (I might have raised it a bit when I first traced off this pattern a few years ago) and shoulder, around the sleeve, and down the side to the widest part of the curve. Then draw a line straight down from there to your desired length plus hem allowance. Mine is cut at 52″ from the highest point of the shoulder, at the neck edge. I’m about 5’8″ for reference. Do the same for the back pattern piece. (I traced the size 18 shoulder line out to the size 20 sleeve edge, and the rest is size 20 down to the hip flare. That makes it 14″ wide from the hip down.)
2) Cut both pieces on the fold as marked and keep them folded, with right sides together. On the front piece, draw a line 1″ in from the fold (parallel with the fold, in other words) from the neck edge down 11″ and same thing on the back from the neck edge down 5″. Stitch along that line, then press the fold open on the wrong side to create the inverted pleat. Top-stitch in place.
3) Cut pockets as desired. My hip pockets are 8″x10″ (the size of a piece of chipboard I had handy!) pressed to 7″x7.5″ — half inch on the sides and bottom, and an inch twice at the top. And my chest pocket is 5.5″x7″ pressed to 4.5″x5″ — half inch all the way around plus another inch on top. Hip pockets are placed 2.5″ from the Center Front and 15.5″ from the neck edge. Chest pocket is placed 1.75″ from CF and 5″ from the neck edge. Top-stitch in place.
4) Sew the shoulder seams together as indicated/desired. Sew the underarm/side seams together as indicated/desired, leaving a split hem if desired. Both of these have split hems on both sides, measured 17″ (blurple) and 15.5″ (stripe) from the bottom edge. Finish seam allowances however you prefer. I French seamed the blurple one down to the split, clipped the seam allowance at that spot, then pressed the split hem open and under before stitching down. Same for the striped one except it’s serged instead of frenched.
5) Finish the sleeves, hem and neck edges as indicated/desired. I did a visible bias facing on blurple and the Fen neckband on the stripe.
For this length, using 60″ wide linen and the size 20 pattern pieces, I was able to get all of the dress and pocket pieces out of three yards, or that plus a pair of pants out of 4 yards. Yes, I now have pants cut from both of these fabrics! And can probably still squeeze a little tank out of the blurple scraps. Which means Linenpalooza ain’t over yet!
I’m on the brink of knitting myself a simple fall pullover (if I can find exactly the right yarn) and have been picturing it as stockinette and, ideally, a finer gauge than my norm. But the mere thought of actually knitting a sweater’s worth of fine-gauge stockinette sent me running to Ravelry to pore over cable sweaters. As much as I want to knit another fisherman, it’s not a closet priority. So I’m weighing the possibility of something lightly cabled:
TOP: Coastal Pullover by Hannah Fettig features allover cables so subtle they become textural white noise
BOTTOM: Hawley Pullover by Julie Hoover is a little more pronounced about its cables, but still.