FO-2016.21 : Striped pullover

Striped Pebble sweater (2016 FO 21)

All of my thoughts and knitting process notes for this fantastic pullover (my last finish of 2016) are covered in my Q&A post about it, but for those of you who want all of the stitch counts and other nitty-gritty details, those are below. And in addition to “modeled” shots for FOs this year, I’m making an effort to do outfit ideas for them too — so here’s the first round of that (below)! For these photos, though, I opted to throw it on with my oldest and dearest.

The only thing not noted previously, I think, is that my starting point was that I wanted the neck and cuffs and hopefully the waist band to be black. Ideally, the underarms would also have been black, but there was no way for that to work without some less acceptable compromise on another factor, so I just kept the armholes deep enough that the fabric is not up against my underarms at all. Also, technically, I should have been switching to an ivory stripe at the point where the cuffs happen, but decided to just extend them in the black, and I love the way that worked out. I wish I had gone a tiny bit longer on the final waist/hem stripe to lend a little more visual weight there, but it’s all good!

I want to say thank-you one more time to Shibui for giving me this yarn for the Top-Down Knitalong (plus one of the WIP of the Week prizes). This fabric is just incredible — light and thin and soft and warm all at the same time — and I am thrilled to have this sweater in my closet.

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater here, Instagram posts here, and fave it on Ravelry if you’re so inclined. Again, process notes are here, and stitch counts and other blow-by-blow details are below.

Pattern: Improv (top-down tutorial)
Yarn: Pebble from Shibui, held double; approx 6 skeins Ivory and 6 skeins Abyss
Cost: free pattern + complimentary yarn = $0
(yarn would have been $228 had I paid for it; the most expensive sweater in my closet, and I would consider it money very well spent)

Striped Pebble sweater (2016 FO 21)

GAUGE

5.75 sts and 8.5 rows = 1 inch (measured over 4″ = 23/34) knitted on US6/4mm

TARGET MEASUREMENTS

42″ chest = 242 sts
13″ upper arm circumference = 74 sts
9″ yoke/armhole depth (76 rows)
12-stitch underarms
13.5″ body length (includes 2″ hem ribbing)
22.5″ total length
16.5″ sleeve length from underarm (includes 2″ cuff ribbing)
8″ cuff circumference

DETAILS

— Co 68 sts divided thusly: 1 | 14 | 38 | 14 | 1

— On row 1, increased one stitch at each raglan marker for a basting stitch

Increased (kfb) at front neck and in pairs at each raglan on every other row

Worked neck shaping until 2″ of depth, cast on to bridge the gap and join, then worked a few more rounds so first stripe was 2.5″ at the back (and neckband would be fully enclosed in a black stripe)

Continued increasing sleeve and body sections to 12 sts short of target counts, worked even to intended yoke depth, then cast on the 12 sts at each underarm

— Each yoke/body stripe (in the round) is 21 rows; but sleeve stripes are 22 rows each — to add some length and because sleeves were knitted flat

— Increased a few times along the side seams for A-line shape (and included basting stitch at each side seam)

Decreased sleeves gradually from 74 to 68 sts, then on final row before starting the cuff ribbing decreased to 50 sts

— Picked up 88 sts for neckband (approx 3 out of 4) on US5/3.75mm, worked to double length for foldover band; to ensure no tightness due to fairly small neck hole, worked final two rib rounds on US9/5.5mm then did sewn BO, before loosely whipstitching to the cast-on edge on the inside

Striped Pebble sweater (2016 FO 21)

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: My sewing year in review

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 3: Karen Templer

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 3: Karen Templer

With the big Fall knitalong each year (Amanda, Cowichan and now Top-Down) I always interview the panelists about their finished sweaters — and I have this silly tradition of including myself in that. But with my top-down sweaters generally, I always give you guys all of my numbers and details. Which means you’re getting two posts from me about this sweater: the q&a today and the details in a week or two. In the interest of full disclosure, I still have one side seam to finish, the neckband to sew down, and the ends to weave in, but I’ll take proper modeled photos and have those along with the detail post soon. Cool?

Of the four panelists, your sweater is the most unlike what you were planning at the outset, which was an ivory cable sweater. What happened there?

I wrote about how I got from the one plan to the other in I’m joining the start-over club, but the short version is no matter how great that ivory sweater was going to be, it wasn’t the right addition to my closet. So I scrapped it and started over.

And how are you feeling about that decision in retrospect?

It was probably the smartest decision of my knitting life so far. Especially after doing that whole wardrobe planning week recently — where I looked at what I have in my closet, what’s missing, and what I could make for myself that would have a real impact — I feel really great about adding this striped sweater to the mix. Stripes are a minimalist/introvert’s version of color and pattern, and I love how bold I went with these stripes. It’s a sweater you’ll see coming a mile away, and yet it still feels like me. And it will really jazz up my outfit options in the same way my Cowichan-ish vest does. They’re the two things I’ve made that light me up the most — and that light up my closet.

How does the yarn feel about that decision in retrospect?

The yarn couldn’t be happier! It was making really beautiful cabled fabric — a little bit to my surprise, honestly. When I was thinking about sweater concepts for this knitalong, I started from the question of what yarn would I like to use, and I’ve been wanting to knit with Pebble since its inception. When I swatched for the cable sweater idea, I was thrilled that the Pebble seemed to lend itself to that so nicely. But when I switched to stockinette, I could really appreciate the character of this yarn. It is just so light and soft and fascinating, really, and in stockinette it gets to be just that. The sweater is a dream — it’s the thinnest and nicest sweater I’ve ever made, but warm and cozy. Every time I tried it on along the way, I couldn’t stand having to take it off. And it couldn’t be more perfect for this stripe concept — it’s a beautiful (read: non-yellow) shade of ivory and the most gorgeous soft black, both with some depth due to the heatheriness that comes from the different fibers taking the dye slightly differently. Together they are just heaven. And I love that it’s partially recycled fiber. So enormous thanks to Shibui for providing me with this yarn and also for donating one of the prizes for the knitalong.

It looks like an extremely straightforward top-down raglan sweater — like, textbook example. Are there ways in which you diverted from the basic top-down recipe?

Of course! I didn’t do anything tricky with the raglans themselves because I wanted a really clean miter on the stripes, so I just increased at all points every other row for a straight 45° raglan. But of course I did baste them — so I just worked one basting stitch at each raglan, with a kfb in the stitch on either side of the basting stitch. And because those increases were going to meet at the seam when I sewed it up, I didn’t want to risk any looseness or sloppiness at all in switching from a purl to a kfb — so I did the basting stitch in stockinette rather than my usual reverse stockinette stitch. That meant (especially in the black parts!) it was harder to see that stitch to seam it up, but I think it was worth it.

I also took advantage of the basting stitch and did my color change on that stitch, so it disappeared into the raglan seam and I didn’t have to worry about “jogless stripes” or anything. And I did a folded neckband, which I love — it looks so polished, especially in this yarn.

I did a basting stitch (reverse stockinette this time) at each side seam. And I worked the sleeves flat, which was especially great in this case! The stripes made for the perfect opportunity to go back and forth between the two sleeves, since I was breaking the yarn anyway. So I’d work an ivory stripe on each sleeve, then a black one on each sleeve, etc. Two-at-a-time sleeves mean less need to keep track of what you did because you’re just going to go do it on the other sleeve a minute later. And with that and the stripes, they felt like they went super fast!

So why did it take so long? Didn’t you cast on for this in mid-September?

I think so, yeah. I was making really fast progress on it initially, and then with Slow Fashion October and extreme holiday-prep madness (I’m a retailer, you know) it got very little attention between mid-Oct and early December, at which point it really picked up steam. But also, this is the most stitches I’ve ever committed to one sweater for myself. It’s a lot of knitting at that gauge and my size. (5.75 sts/8.5 rows per inch — I know that seems huge to some of you.) I definitely had major project fatigue after three-ish months of dinky stockinette, but it was totally worth it. This sweater is magnificent. Now if only I had the patience to do it again in all black …

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I’ll be back soon with all of the top-down stitch count specifics and so on, and Jen is still knitting! So we’ve got one more FO to go. Keep sharing your own progress on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed, and if you’re using my tutorial, make sure to link your project notes to the Improv pattern page on Ravelry!

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: The WIPs of the Week that became FOs

 

 

 

The WIPs of the Week that became FOs

The WIPs of the Week that became FOs

I was really hoping to show you my finished Top-Down Knitalong sweater this week, but I haven’t had a chance to seam it yet! Regardless, I thought it would be fun to follow up on the WIP of the Week winners that were featured here along the way, since many of those WIPs are now garments.

There were 7 weeks but 9 winners, since I picked two twice. Two of the winners’ sweaters were finished by the time they were featured, Paige from Week 6 and Orlane from Week 7. Three have yet to post FO photos, so you can see the most recent images from Beth @beththais (from Week 2), Ashley @callistoknits (Week 1) and Kelsey @kelseyknits (Week 7). But what about those other four? Such brilliance:

TOP: Week 5 was Brigit @thewoolwitch frogging her completed mega-cardigan to try to get a better overall fit — and she nailed it! So worth the effort. (And look, I think she’s wearing it with a L’Arbre Hat!)
(WIP of the Week post / Ravelry project page)

MIDDLE LEFT: Week 4 had two winners, the first of which was Ding @halfcrystalline experimenting and tweaking her stockinette pullover with cables along the raglans and sides, which turned out beautifully!
(WIP of the Week post / Ravelry project page)

MIDDLE RIGHT: also in Week 4 was Sari @sari_n_ with one of the biggest crowd-pleasers of the event, her gorgeous ivory boatneck pullover with cables on the front and back.
(WIP of the Week post / Ravelry project page)

BOTTOM: Week 3 was Jess @jess_b_daniels frogging an underwhelming sweater for her beloved, Jenn, to make something custom. The finished henley is fantastic and well-loved by both parties!
(WIP of the Week postRavelry project page)

It’s really thrilling and stunning for me that all of these very different sweaters (and countless more on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed and on Ravelry!) came from my Improv pattern/tutorial. I’ll be back with my FO soon, to be followed by Jen’s!

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Panel FO No.2: Brandi Harper

WIPs of the Week No.7 (and fun new stuff!)

WIP of the Week No.7: Kelsey

I’m going to say I’m at a loss for words and then proceed to write quite a lot of them, but I guess what I mean is that I’m not in possession of the right words to describe what the Top-Down Knitalong has been like. I’ve talked a lot about the amazing attitudes on display, but the variety and creativity is also well and truly remarkable. Participants have ranged from sweater novices to sweater aficionados who’d never done top-down to published sweater-pattern designers scratching a creative itch. The sweaters run the gamut from classic stockinette pullovers to elaborate colorwork and cables, and in every shape and proportion imaginable. (Check out the clever construction on this and this, for example.) And the stories! The sweater designed by her 10-y-o; the dude who said “I would totally wear this” and is getting one of his own; the top-down dog sweater; great-grandma’s yarn … If I were to try to post a highlight reel here, it would be hundreds of sweaters long — truly every single sweater deserves acclaim, and the whole thing is such a reward for time spent perusing it, both on Instagram and on Ravelry. Alas, I have two final bonus prizes to award, and picking them was both simple and impossible.

Above is the honey-colored cable sweater by Kelsey, who is @kelseyknits on Instagram and kelseyknits on Ravelry. She was so excited about her swatches she cast on a couple days early and has been one of the stars of the show ever since. There haven’t been many days when her latest pic wasn’t in the Top Posts section of the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed, so in love has everyone been with her progress. She’s said she wanted to get outside her comfort zone with both the color and the deployment of the cable patterns on her top-down raglan, and I’d say it paid off! Kelsey, you’ve won 7 skeins of Father from YOTH Yarns, gorgeous US-grown and -milled Rambouillet, in the in-stock color of your choosing. Drop me an email at contact@fringesupplyco.com and we’ll discuss how to get it to you!

WIP of the Week No.7: Orlane

And the remaining prize goes to Orlane, who is @tete_beche on Instagram and orlane on Ravelry (and the creator of the Textured Shawl Recipe I’ve knitted three times and explicated here). Orlane’s sweater is undeniably beautiful, but it gets better and better the more you know and the closer you look. She’s French and used some gorgeous farmy yarn from Brittany, one skein of which she avocado-dyed. She smartly didn’t start the colorwork until just below the neck join, then stuck with simple geometric repeats centered within the stitch counts between the raglans. My favorite detail, though, is not just the folded hem (which I’m totally into right now) but the fact that she gave it a striped facing. It’s amazing from start to finish. Orlane, you’ve won the 15 skeins of small-batch California-grown Range from A Verb for Keeping Warm in your choice of Lighthouse and/or Quartz colorways! Please email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com with your choice and mailing address!

Both have amazing IG feeds and tons more pics of their sweaters all along the way, so make sure you click through and check them out.

I want to say a huge thanks again to all of our prize donors: Shibui, Purl Soho, Brooklyn Tweed, O-Wool, Woolfolk, Kelbourne Woolens, A Verb for Keeping Warm and YOTH Yarns. You’ve been amazingly generous!

And I want to congratulate all of the WIP of the Week winners and, truly, every single person who took on this challenge. The knitalong doesn’t end here — all four panelists are still knitting and so are countless others — so keep using that #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 tag to share. If you’re following my tutorial, please link your Ravelry project to the Improv sweater pattern page so I can see. And I want to say again I’m truly so inspired and in awe of all of you. You’ve taught me so much about being a brave and determined knitter, and you’ve done the knitting community proud with all of the support and advice and camaraderie you’ve provided each other along the way. It’s been an honor! And I mean it: keep it coming! (I’ll do my best to keep up, but Slow Fashion October also starts tomorrow! So please understand I’ll be juggling.)

SHOP NEWS

New at Fringe Supply Co: bling, cleaner and wax for your beloved Field Bag

We’ve got some really fun stuff in the webshop today: bling, canvas cleaner, canvas wax, and even a small number of Field Bags to apply them all to! (More next week, universe willing.) Click through for details on all of those items, since this post has gone on long enough!

Happy weekend, everyone — see you tomorrow here and over at @slowfashionoctober!

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Let’s talk about underarms

Let’s talk about underarms

Let's talk about underarms

This is the last official week of the Top-Down Knitalong (aka #fringeandfriendsKAL2016) in terms of blog focus and bonus prizes — the last of which will be announced on Friday — but the show goes on! We, the panel, are obviously still knitting, and I’ll have FO posts about our sweaters as they’re completed. But meanwhile, let’s talk about underarms!

There are two points I want to make:

1) You need fabric at your underarms in order for your arms to be able to move. There are people who don’t like raglan-sleeve sweaters for a variety of reasons, one of which is they’ll tell you that raglans will always leave you with too much fabric (and “bunching”) around the underarms. I say it depends. On your sweater, the amount of ease/fabric you’ve built in, your body type, where you positioned your raglans, whether they’re straight 45° or compound raglans, what kind of drape the fabric has … a million variables. But regardless of sleeve type or those variables or anyone’s point of view, you need some fabric there if you want to be able to move your arms. There have been a few sweaters in the knitalong where something went a little awry with the underarms (see below) but I feel like there are also a few sweaters where people have been concerned about what they see as “bunching” that is actually just a perfectly normal and healthy amount of fabric at the underarms. The hard part for me has been trying to gauge the difference based on tiny photos on my phone, rather than being able to see the garments in person and in motion. It’s awesome that this process has led to people being so tuned in to every detail of their sweater in a way they perhaps haven’t been when following a pattern, but I think it can also lead to overanalyzing and even over-fitting your garment! So if you’re someone who’s concerned about your sweater, put on some other clothes from your closet (of every type and fit, and then also of similar fit to your sweater) and take a look at how the fabric behaves around the underarms. I’ve included a few random images above of clothes of mine you’ve seen before — knit, knitted and woven; raglan, set-in and dolman — to demonstrate the point. There is fabric around the underarms; it’s good.

2) It’s been extremely educational for me to watch so many people knitting from my tutorial, as a way to see potential pitfalls that I hadn’t thought to address or emphasize. As it happens, there are a couple of sweaters in the knitalong where something did go a little off — and interestingly, it’s all to do with the underarms, which I would not have anticipated. When I tweaked the tutorial in August, I put more emphasis on EZ’s 8% rule of thumb for calculating underarm stitches, and less emphasis on my own rule of thumb of measuring your armpit. In fact, I completely removed the original line where I said “here’s an idea — measure your armpit!” I have cast on anywhere from 2-3 inches of stitches in the past, thinking of it only as a measurement and not a percentage, and never had a problem. It turns out the 8% rule can backfire on you if you’re making a big, slouchy sweater or otherwise working with a large number of stitches. So a few people wound up casting on problematically large numbers of underarm stitches, and I regret that enormously. And there have also been a few people who just chose really shallow yoke depths. I say in the tutorial to measure to a spot at least an inch or two below your actual armpit and use that for your yoke depth calculation, but I need to put more emphasis on the importance of underarm ease. If you’re making a sweater with a good amount of positive ease and you cast on your underarm too soon, you’re going to have a large amount of fabric … jammed right up under your armpit. And that will cause unsightly bunching of said fabric. It needs some room to hang! (Conversely, if the armhole were deep and the sleeve more snug, that would also cause the sweater to fit a little oddly.) So I’ll be tweaking that part of the tutorial to talk more about the need for the underarm ease to be in proportion to the upper-sleeve ease.

I totally get how shallow yokes can happen. You’re knitting along on your yoke, the rows are getting longer and longer, you’ve got that shimmering point ahead of you on the horizon — the moment where you get to separate the body and sleeves and put your arms through armholes for the first time — and the temptation is SO STRONG. It’s one of the funnest moments in knitting. I don’t think I’ve ever made a top-down sweater where I didn’t have to consciously force myself to keep going that last inch or so, rather than separating too soon and winding up with shallow armholes. You just gotta hang in there till the moment is right!

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: WIP of the Week No.6

WIP of the Week No.6 (and more!)

WIP of the Week No.6 (and more!)

The penultimate WIP of the Week award is going to Paige Sato, who is @purlingpaige on IG and purlgurl on Ravelry (and runs the Christmas at Sea program) and has been one of the Top-Down Knitalong standouts from the very first moment. I honestly was a little worried about Paige’s sweater at first. She was doing a circular yoke and short rows and colorwork and all sorts of stuff I knew I would be no help with if it didn’t go exactly right on the first try. It didn’t, of course — because creating things from scratch almost always takes some trial and error — and Paige also decided to complicate her complications! After beginning the yoke, she decided she wanted to add a steek for a half-zip neck, which threw off her math. I got more and more nervous as she tweaked and tweaked but she was completely unfazed, and before long she had this amazing yoke going on and a huge smile on her face. This sweater is ambitious and is turning out SO AMAZING. Check her feed for the whole delightful creative process she’s been through with it. And did I mention she stopped in the middle to whip up a pink cowl-neck sweater for a friend’s birthday? Incredible, Paige. So you’ve won 8 skeins of Arranmore in the color of your choosing — please drop me an email with your selection(s) and mailing address! Thank you Kelbourne Woolens for this week’s amazing prize!

Next week is the last week I’ll be handing out bonus prizes, although we’re still knitting and there’s no deadline! No pressure. I actually have TWO prizes to hand out next week! The first is 7 skeins of Father from YOTH Yarns (the yarn Jess is using for her fafkal sweater, and which I’m a huge fan of) in the in-stock color of the winner’s choosing. And the second is 15 skeins of Range from A Verb For Keeping Warm in either Lighthouse or Quartz, which I’m insanely jealous of. Coincidentally, both are US-grown and milled yarns, and both Rambouillet! I’ll be picking the winners for next Friday, so keep those sweater pics and stories coming, using #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 and the comments here to share!

SHOP NEWS

Veg-tan leather wrist ruler — only at Fringe Supply Co.!

I saw my friend Andrea Rangel at the trade show last summer and she was wearing an awesome leather ruler bracelet and I wanted it! For me and for you, but I wanted it to be natural veg-tan leather with a brass button stud, and thankfully the makers agreed to do that just for us! Mine hasn’t left my wrist since they arrived, and you can get yours today exclusively at Fringe Supply Co. And we’ve also restocked a bunch of bestsellers this week, so hop on over and take a peek.

MICRO ELSEWHERE

And once again this week, I have just one link for you but a really good one — it’s Stacy London (of What Not to Wear fame) on the weirdness [I know first-hand] of being and dressing 47 in 2016, [Here’s the part where I edited out a bunch of stuff I said on a sticky subject with not enough time to word it carefully so] I look forward to your thoughts on Stacy’s article!

And if you’ve run across any other great links lately, please share them in the comments!

Happy weekend, everyone — thank you for reading!

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: I’m joining the start-over club!

WIP of the Week No.5 (+ mandatory Slotober reading!)

WIP of the Week No.5

I truly can’t say enough about how life-affirming it is to read through the discussions on all of the sweaters in the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 feed every day. (And “life-affirming” is not a term I use often — or maybe ever!) The knitting world is an amazing place, but the support and advice and encouragement here exceeds anything I’ve ever seen, and I couldn’t be more wowed by you all. The sweater that impressed me the most this week and is thus earning the title of WIP of the Week is the cardigan (pictured above) by Brigit, who is @thewoolwitch on IG and themistwitch on Ravelry. Brigit set out to make a coat-like cardigan in lopi, and has been sharing generously every step and decision along the way. She patiently knitted and seamed a vertical button band to match the length of this garment, then she put it on and posted pics, asking openly whether or not she’d gotten the fit right. And when the majority opinion was that the sleeves were too large for her small frame and making the whole thing look too big for her (“tragically-too-large” rather than “cool-girl-oversized”, as she put it), without seeming to even bat an eyelash she ripped out the entire thing — save the button band! — and is starting from scratch, so she can really hone every single detail along the way. As she said:

“I am so excited to have this come out right, and so excited that we are heading into Slow Fashion October because, to me, taking the time to reknit a sweater so that it fits just right is part of what slow fashion is all about. What’s the point of making your own clothes if you aren’t going to love them?”

Dude.

Brigit is far from the only one to be ripping and tweaking and improving, but I think she is the first to rip a finished KAL sweater — and all the way to stitch one. But what has impressed me most about the whole thing is her spirit and attitude. Plus that’s going to be a great sweater. So Brigit, you’ve won 10 skeins of Woolfolk’s luscious Far in the color of your choosing. Email me at contact@fringesupplyco.com to collect your prize!

I also have a little more Far to spread around this week — two bundles of three skeins each — and have picked two winners at random because there are just too many amazing entries to choose from! @kirsten_weis you’ve won three skeins in Color 16, and @borealindigo you’ve won three skeins in Color 17. Please email me so we can send your yarn!

Next week’s penultimate bonus prize is 8 skeins of Arranmore, the new Fibre Co. yarn you all know I’m dying to knit with, donated by Kelbourne Woolens (who are taunting me with those killer patterns). So keep those pics and tales and general amazingness coming!

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MICRO-ELSEWHERE: Speaking of the Kelbournes (as I call them) and of Slow Fashion October, they recently included a link in their weekly newsletter that is the single best article I’ve ever read about the problems our gluttony and cast-off-itis creates, and I’m going to link it today and repeatedly as we head into Slotober, because I think it should be mandatory reading for all clothes-wearing humans on planet Earth: No one wants your old clothes. PLEASE READ!

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Did you watch Rams yet? I loved it.

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Panelist check-in