Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

When I first started doing these Queue Check posts a couple of years ago, it was at least partly to try to get myself to focus, but in the earlier posts I was still ping-ponging around between projects, with new ideas about what to cast on every month. Lately, I’ve been so disciplined and, well let’s face it, so slooow that the posts have been more WIP status than queue planning. Honestly, I’ve been scared to distract myself from the sweaters at hand because I want them so badly. But after this week of Winter ’16 Wardrobe Planning posts, I feel like I can safely start projecting into the future again.

DECEMBER PLANS: I swore to myself I would have my striped sweater finished before it came around to Queue Check again. I was convinced I’d be finishing it last weekend, but I wound up (happily) with houseguests, so that didn’t happen. But after the Oct-Nov slow spell while I had so much else going on, I’ve been making headway on the sleeves lately. It’s amazing how quickly things can go when you actually work on them! So I’m hoping ol’ stripey will be done by the end of this weekend, and the next time you see it will be a FO post. (That’s Shibui Pebble, and an improvised top-down raglan.)

After that, all attention and energy will be in seeing how quickly I can move my Channel Cardigan along (yarn is Clever Camel, undyed). Even though the first sleeve went very quickly, I know this sweater is a lot of knitting — the collar alone with take some serious time. But I want to see how far I can get with it before Christmas, because …

Then I have a road trip, and I’m thinking of seeing if I can knit a Carrowkeel within the space of that trip. I’m pondering using Arranmore in Cronan but haven’t seen the color in person yet, so can’t be sure.

And then it’s a question of next priorities heading into January. These three of the six sweaters I proposed on Monday are what’s elbowing their way to the front of my brain:

Queue Check Deluxe — November/December 2016

ABOVE LEFT: I am really stuck on this idea of a big cardigan-coat. I’m haunted by Jenny Gordy’s, and also obsessing over this Lauren Manoogian number. I’m considering the possibility of using my Sawkill Farm trove for it, held double, and will swatch soon and see what I think about that. It could actually be a really quick project at bulky gauge, and extremely useful.

ABOVE MIDDLE: I’ve never been anything but serious about St. Brendan, but last night I went so far as to order the yarn.

ABOVE RIGHT: is the simple pullover I’m needing and dreaming of, and there’s nothing I want more than to have Junegrass on my needles. But as I said Monday (and so many of you have said in the meantime!) I can solve the pullover problem more quickly by sewing a Linden or two. So that’s high priority and this Junegrass pullover will likely be in line right behind St. Brendan. And then I also eventually want the same sweater in a nice rich camel.

This week has been amazing for me in terms of really getting my head around what’s in my closet, how to wear it, and what I need and want to do next. In fact, it’s opened my eyes to the fact that I have what I’ve always wanted: a small collection of highly combinable pieces. (I.e., Garanimals for grown-ups.) So my challenge now is to keep adding very thoughtfully, keeping it reined in while still indulging in and enjoying the process of making clothes and augmenting a wardrobe.

In addition to the above adjustments/additions to my knitting queue, here are the other to-do’s that came out of it all—

SEW:
– nice “sweatshirt” or two
– denim shirt?? or light-blue shirting (or buy?)
– black/ivory striped sleeveless tee
– white underlayer top of some kind

FIX:
– re-sew buttons on grey vest
– block black sleeveless turtleneck out a bit larger
– mend the mended jeans
– mend light-blue sleeveless chambray top

BUY:
– new jeans
– black silk band-collar top?
– tan/cognac shoes, clogs or ankle boots

Also: Do another clean-out of the things that aren’t getting worn and find them happy new homes.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: October 2016

KTFO-2016.20 : Simple house slippers

FO: Simple House Slippers

Kathy’s been here this week working with me on the holiday photo shoot for Fringe Supply Co. (can’t wait to show you!) and while we were at it, she was kind enough to take these pictures of my latest finished object: a quickly knitted pair of slippers. I needed to be wearing slippers in one of the photos and mine are all a shabby mess — with my big toe having just recently broken through the end of my favorite pair. I’ll come up with a good patch for that when I have a minute to think about it, but since I also needed a break from the endless stockinette of my knitalong sweater, I thought these little quickies seemed like a good idea on multiple levels.

They are the Simple House Slippers from Temple of Knit, which are sort of a relative of the Tootsie Toasters, but much cuter. Going back through those Tootsie Toasters posts (from five years ago!) I was amused to see myself noting that Meg had cleverly converted the vintage flat pattern to in-the-round, and here I am now — as noted last week — converting Simone’s in-the-round rendition back to flat! In addition to that little mod, I also knitted the garter rows to 4.5″ instead of 32 rows, since at my row gauge that reached about to my ankles instead of the front of my foot. I wish I knew what Simone’s gauge is, or what dimension her 32 rows amounts to, in order to know how my version compares in that regard. (Note to self: then knitted to a total length of 8″ before toe shaping.) And on the last row of garter, I increased one stitch at each end to give myself selvage stitches. Since I was really just thinking of these as photo shoot props, I did the seaming pretty hastily and also had knitted them in Shelter, because I had it handy, which is not really a suitable yarn for a slipper. But I really like these little guys, so I’ll either wear them as socks inside my boiled wool scuffs, or maybe put leather slipper bottoms on them. And I’ll definitely be knitting more. Really fun, quick, satisfying and useful.

Pattern: Simple House Slippers by Simone A
Yarn: Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed, in Soot
Cost: Free pattern + one skein of Shelter = $13.25

(Nitty-gritty details on Ravelry)

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PREVIOUSLY in 2016 FOs: Black linen-wool cardigan of my dreams

 

Queue Check — October 2016

Queue Check — October 2016

The only thing that’s changed since my last Queue Check is there are a whole lot more stripes to my striped sweater than there were a month ago. I’ve got just a few inches of body left, then neckband and sleeves. I haven’t touched my Channel cardigan in the meantime, so it’s still just the one part-sleeve, but it won’t be long before I’m wearing the stripes and knitting the Channel. And I continue to believe these will be the two best sweaters I’ve ever owned, handmade or otherwise.

I made a point on Instagram the other day about listening to the knits I’m able to neglect. That’s not this cardigan — it is patiently waiting and I can hardly stand not knitting it — but the grey sweater I started with my Sawkill Farm last Nov does fall into this category, compounded by my trio of gorgeous grey yarns for which I need to come up with just the right long-term uses. So between now and next check, while I knit away on Channel, that’s what I’ll be pondering.

YARNS: top is Pebble held double (given to me by Shibui, part of the Top-Down Knitalong); bottom is Clever Camel

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: September 2016

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 1: Jess Schreibstein

Top-Down Knitalong FO No. 1: Jess Schreibstein

Hey, guess what — there’s a member of the panel for the Top-Down Knitalong who finished her sweater! Brandi is either also there or on the brink, and Jen and I are still plugging away at it, but today I am pleased to show you the finished object of the lovely Jess Schreibstein. In case there’s anyone who doesn’t know her, Jess writes the Swatch of the Month column for Fringe Association, charms Instagram as @thekitchenwitch and just launched her new website. So let’s hear about this sweater—

. . .

You’re the only panelist who will have completed the same sweater you started — yours is true to your original plan. Be honest: Feeling at all smug about that? ;)

You know, I didn’t even realize that I was the first person on the panel to finish her sweater until I wore it the first time. Then it just dawned on me – like, WOW, how did that even happen?! But all along, my primary goal was to stay dedicated to getting the sweater exactly how I wanted it, and I took it as a given that that process would take time and trial and error. But once I made it through yoke and neck shaping, the rest of the sweater came together easily, and I set myself a deadline of finishing by the Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. Which I did, but barely, in true Rhinebeck fashion. The sweater finished drying the morning I left!

You wound up admirably spending a lot of time and revision on your neck, in an effort to get it just how you wanted it. To recap, you cast on your neck stitches and worked the funnel neck in the round, and initially weren’t going to do any neck shaping. But then you decided to add short rows, which took a few tries. Can you talk about why you didn’t want to shape the neck the traditional way — I know some people were curious why you chose the route you did — and how you feel about the short rows in the end? Do you feel you solved all the problems you were trying to solve?

You’re right – instead of casting on stitches and working the neck shaping back and forth before joining in the round, per the method you describe, I worked the neck in the round and then used short rows to get the neck shaping I was after. To get a turtleneck or mock neck with the traditional method, I would have to pick up the cast-on neck stitches, which wouldn’t really be an issue except that the simple lines of knit and purl are so important to getting my particular design to look right. I wanted those lines from the neck to move seamlessly into the yoke and body, without any funky jogs or noticeable seams around the neck.

I ran into setbacks on the short rows because I really just hadn’t had to use them much before, so didn’t know about some pitfalls in particular methods that make them unattractively visible. The knit/purl rib can also be less forgiving for short rows. On the recommendation of my friend Olga Buraya-Kefelian, I used the German Short Rows method, and spaced the turns 2 stitches apart from each other to lend a gradual grade to the shaping. It definitely worked, and I’m pleased with the result!

It seems like once you got over that hump, it was smooth sailing for you. Were there any other setbacks or revisions along the way?

The biggest revision was on the sleeves. I originally intended to knit them flat, as you’ve recommended for multiple reasons, but found after working half a sleeve that the seam would look sloppy with the decreases and the K1P1 rib. Instead, I worked them in the round, working in a knit seam down the center of the sleeve with a purl stitch on either side – which were later seamed up with a basting stitch. I was worried that a basting stitch on either side of this center “knit” seam, effectively creating two seams on the inside of the sleeve, might look bulky or feel stiff, but after blocking they melted into the sleeve and they look great.

You chose YOTH’s Father in Olive for your sweater (which they generously provided, I should note — thank you, YOTH!) How do you feel about your yarn selection for this sweater — are you into the Rambouillet, happy with how it’s performing this particular job? Anything you might have done differently there?

I loved working with YOTH’s Father and am so grateful to them for providing the yarn! The color is so rich and the stitch definition is stunning. Thankfully, Veronika at YOTH reached out to me before I started knitting to let me know that she recommends alternating skeins, since there is slight color variation from skein to skein. This definitely helped blend any slight light and dark differences in the yarn.

How did you wind up treating the lower edges — the cuffs and hem? And did you include other basting stitches anywhere or knit anything flat?

The edges of the neck, sleeves and hem were all worked in a size or two smaller needle than the body of the sweater to create some subtle shaping and a snug fit on the wrists. I bound off all edges with a tubular bind off, which looks great with the rib. I also added a few rows of decreases on each side of the hem of the body for the same reason – some subtle shaping and a snug fit. No parts of the sweater were knit flat, but I added basting stitches on either side of the wide raglans and to the inside of the sleeves, as I mentioned. They added so much great structure to the sweater and look great.

This was your first time knitting a sweater top-down — and apart from the neck shaping, you mostly followed the process described in my tutorial, right? What do you feel you got out of the process, if anything, and would you do it again?

That’s right, no other major changes from your outlined process besides the neck shaping. I have to say that I learn a lot each time I knit a new sweater, but this one was different. Thanks to this process, I now have a much deeper understanding of sweater construction than when I started. But even more importantly, I was part of a larger community of knitters trying, failing, and trying again to design their own sweaters, which helped me stay positive and focused on the ultimate goal – learning how to make a killer sweater for myself! I definitely plan to use this method again, specifically for some basic cream and black cardigans I’d love to have in my closet.

Thank you, Karen, for organizing and hosting this KAL and inspiring so many of us to create our own improvised sweaters! So grateful to you.

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(Where’s my blush face emoji?) Thanks so much for playing, Jess!

I’ll have the rest of the panelists’ sweaters to show you as they/we finish up! Meanwhile, there’s still action on the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 hashtag and the Improv top-down tutorial is here (or on Ravelry) for you anytime.

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: WIPs of the Week No.7

My Slotober project for 2016

My Slotober project for 2016

I’m sure there are a lot of you dying to point out to me that I have yet to sew anything out of the fabric that Allison custom-wove for me last year. Trust me: I KNOW! (By the way, have you seen what Allison is up to these days?) I’m secretly hoping to do something about that this month, but it’s not my official plan and I’m trying to be realistic. My official plan is to focus on making things wearable again. Part of why I keep urging everyone to read NO ONE WANTS YOUR OLD CLOTHES is that I’m increasingly troubled by every post and plan on the interwebs about how to streamline your wardrobe — be it in the context of a capsule wardrobe or a slow-fashion wardrobe (which are not the same thing) — starting with, “first, clean out your closet.” I’m guilty of promoting this — and a major closet clean-out in 2014 happens to have played into my enlightenment about what I really wanted in my closet — but as that article so adeptly covers in one single read, it’s not good.

Trash is one of my lifelong fascinations — I read about and think about waste management more than the average human — but for a long time I was among those who believed that giving clothes to Goodwill, etc., meant it would find a new home, not a spot in the dump or on a cargo ship or any number of other troublesome fates. I’ve come to the realization that a truly conscientious wardrobe starts with owning what you own — taking responsibility for it. So I’m upping my commitment on that front.

There are ways to re-home or repurpose things, and we’ll talk more about this during Long-Worn week next week, but for my Slotober project this year, my goal is to get four unworn garments back to wearability:

1) Bob’s rollneck. Bob loves this sweater and would love to wear it, but the neck is just too big, and the stockinette roll might not have been the best approach with this particular yarn. So my first job will be to pull out the neck and redo it, picking up fewer stitches this time to cinch up the hole a bit, and either try again with the stockinette but less of it, or go straight to replacing it with a regular ribbed foldover crewneck. I’ll leave that up to Bob.

2) Linen chambray top. I bought this popover at Madewell about three years ago and loved the fabric and the fit except, as usual, it was too small for me in the shoulders. So I cut off the sleeves and wore it — a ton — under things. The linen got paper-thin pretty quickly, and there are significant holes at the corners of the pockets. I was planning to harvest the buttons and put it in Bob’s rag bin, but I put it on the other day and I still really love and could use it! So I’m mending those holes and keeping it alive as long as it’s willing. I only wish I still had the sleeves to take fabric from.

3) Amanda. I know, I’m as pained to see this here as you are, but I’ve confessed before that I’ve always been unhappy about how large I left the neck, and I just don’t wear it. If there’s anything I learned from you all during the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 (and last year’s SFO, and everyone’s general willingness to rip and fix), it’s that it really is pointless to have a sweater in your closet you don’t wear, so it’s time for me to do something about this. I may have to face the fact that I chose the wrong yarn and this will never hang on me the way I want it to, even with a modified neck. But I’m not conceding without first attempting to fix the neck. Like Bob’s, my first try will be simply to pull it out, pick up fewer stitches and see what effect that has. Then I’ll made any further decisions based on those results — possibly major neck surgery or major ripping. <hiding eyes emoji>

4) My favorite jeans. These are another regrettable fast-fashion purchase I’m trying to do right by. They are, in fact, my favorite jeans to wear — the most easygoing — and I only own three pair of blue jeans to begin with. There’s these, my other already holey/mended jeans (much older than these and still in better shape) and a newer pair of J.Crew jeans from their Made in L.A. line, Point Sur, which are my dress-up jeans, since the other two both have holes now. (Plus my new natural-denim I+W’s.) These are only a few years old but have gotten so threadbare all over that they shred somewhere every time I move — they tear like a Kleenex — so they’re not currently being worn at all. Because I love the fit and don’t want to buy more jeans — and because I love the idea of it — I’m thinking of doing an allover saskiko treatment, so they’ll practically be hand-quilted. It’s a longer-term project, if it even works, but I’m going to get it started and see!

I’d like to say I’ll tackle one of these per week, but this is a nutty month for me, so I’ll tackle them as I’m able!

If you have set out a Slotober project for yourself, I’d love to hear about it! And I hope you’ve read the comments on the master plan and the kickoff post, as well as on the #slowfashionoctober — such good stuff already. There aren’t enough hours in the day for me to respond to every comment, but I am reading them all, appreciate them so much, and am also attempting to read every post to the hashtag! You guys are endlessly amazing.

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PREVIOUSLY in Slow Fashion October 2016: Week 1, Introductions

Queue Check — September 2016

Queue Check — September 2016

Since last month’s Queue Check, I’ve finished the black Linen Quill cardigan, sidelined the purple tutorial sweater until winter weather warrants its completion, and decided to scrap my Pebble cable sweater in favor of stripes! In the time between putting the cable sweater on hold and eventually deciding what to do instead, I worked on the first sleeve of my Channel Cardigan (top, in Clever Camel*), which is just absolute heaven. The yarn is heaven in the palm of your hand; the fabric is magical to watch develop; the knitting looks as if it’s already been blocked, it is so perfect and gorgeous; the stitch pattern was easily memorized long ago, so it’s easy to pick up and put down at any time. I mean, every stitch of it is paradise — to the point that I briefly considered starting over in the lighter shade of camel, but Jen talked me out of it last weekend. As much as I want to be wearing it, I could happily knit this sweater forever.

Which is part of how I came to realize I had a problem with the ivory cable sweater. Every time I got a few minutes to knit at night, I reached for the Channel. Obviously it’s incredibly hard to compete with, right?, as end-o-day knitting experiences go. But I felt like my knitalong sweater should be something I wanted badly enough that it did compete for my attention. Well, I’m happy to report that this striped Improv sweater (bottom, in Pebble) is every bit as satisfying. This yarn, in stockinette? How many is too many times to use the word paradise in one post? Watching the stripes develop is just as fun as the cables. It’s going faster because of the difference in gauge. And I am SO HOT TO WEAR IT. I cannot wait to have this one, and am definitely reaching for it over Channel, so I’m feeling very very good about that decision to start over. Even if it did put me in jeopardy of being the last panelist to finish!

As much as I’m trying to not to think beyond these two sweaters right now — since it will likely be Thanksgiving before Channel is done — I’ve had an advance look at a collection coming out very soon that makes my brain hurt it’s so good. There is one cardigan in particular that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about for weeks, since I saw a snapshot from the photoshoot. In the final images, I can see it’s not the same shape I guessed it was from that glimpse, but it will be when I make it! I’ll be able to tell you more about it soon. But if my unwavering fixation is any evidence, that would seem to be next in my queue.

*By the way, Clever Camel is back in stock and Jones and Vandermeer have renewed the discount offer. Use code FRINGE at checkout on their site for 10% off Clever Camel through October 15, 2016.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: August 2016

KTFO-2016.19 : Black linen-wool cardigan of my dreams

FO : The linen-wool cardigan of my dreams

This is a plain-as-can-be Improv top-down raglan, knitted with two strands of Purl Soho’s Linen Quill (50% fine highland wool, 35% alpaca, and 15% linen), and it is pretty much the simple black cardigan of my dreams. Purl had sent me five skeins of this yarn, unbidden, and I was determined to get the whole cardigan out of it. There is a LOT of yardage on those skeins! I was holding it double and made it nearly from the cast-on to the waistband before I needed to join a new pair of strands. I completed the sweater with 26 yards left of the second pair of skeins and only had to break into the fifth skein to knit the button band. So it turns out I could have made it a bit longer and still had plenty of yarn! But I was modeling this after a beloved blue cashmere J.Crew sweater, which hit just a couple of inches below my natural waist like this, and I wore that thing to bits. So I have no doubt about how much wear I’ll get out of this. And the fabric is utterly amazing — I wish you could pet this sweater through your screen.

It took me months to knit this one only because I kept setting it aside for other projects, although I did feel slightly apathetic about it along the way. I had a pervasive dread that I’d made the back neck too wide, which to me is the death blow of a sweater. It’s all about the back neck width, in my view. Once I blocked it and put it on, I was even more concerned. I did basically the same thing as I had with my black lopi pullover — starting with a higher percentage of sleeve stitches and shaping the raglans. But the result of all those sleeve stitches was that they draped over my shoulders and left the back neck sitting perilously low. All I could do at that point was hope it all worked out when I picked up stitches for the band.

This sweater is the first where I was constantly thinking of sewing tricks and wishing for knitting equivalents. The fabric is quite drapey by my standards (thanks to the alpaca content) and I also didn’t knit it as tightly as I normally knit stockinette. I actually felt scared to put it on before I did the finishing — like I could feel the neckline stretching, and wished I could stay-stitch it. I was SO GLAD I had done basting stitches in the raglans, and amazed at how different it felt putting it on before and after seaming those up. And then I did treat the neckband a little like a bias strip, “pulling gently” around the curve of the back neck (by which I mean picking up 2 out of 3 sts across the back instead of 1:1) to slightly cinch it up. And it worked like magic! The neck sits beautifully. For the band, I wound up doing picked-up garter stitch, mostly because I’d never done garter for a button band before, and I adore it. The only challenge was the bind-off: I wanted it to be firm enough to prevent the band from stretching any, but not so tight that it pulled the sweater up in the front. I think I got it a hair too tight, but will wear it awhile and see how it does. Redoing that bind-off wound be the easiest tweak in the world.

I’m including all of my numbers below for anyone who wants to do this top-down Improv-style themselves, but if you prefer a proper pattern for a super-basic cardigan like this, see Carrie Hoge’s Uniform. I don’t know how all of my measurements and shaping compare to her pattern, but they’re obviously very similar sweaters!

Pattern: Improv
Yarn: Linen Quill from Purl Soho
Cost: no pattern + $10 horn buttons from Fringe Supply Co. + comlimentary yarn = $10
(yarn would have been about $65 had I paid for it, for total cost of $75)

[favorite it on Ravelry]

FO : The linen-wool cardigan of my dreams

GAUGE

4.5 sts and 6 rows = 1 inch (measured over 4″ = 18/24) knitted on US8

TARGET MEASUREMENTS

42″ chest = 189 sts
14″ upper arm circumference = 64 sts (more like 12″ after seaming and blocking)
7″ cuff circumference
20″ total length
9″ yoke/armhole depth (54 rows)
11″ body length (2″ hem ribbing)
17″ sleeve length (3″ cuff ribbing)

DETAILS

— Co 83 sts divided thusly: 1 | 3 | 20 | 3 | 29 | 3 | 20 | 3 | 1 — worked center raglan st as basting stitch

— Planned for 14 sts cast on at each underarm, and divided the raglan stitches evenly between sections when separating sleeves from body

— Worked raglan increases as kfb on either side of the raglan stitches, varying increases roughly same as black lopi raglan

— Increased at front neck every 4th row until front sts added up to back sts minus about 1.5″ to account for width of button band — pretty sure it worked out that my last neck increase row was the same as my sleeve/body separation row

— Worked center stitch at each side as a basting stitch

— BO/CO sts for one inset pocket at 6.5″ from separation row (4.5″ before end of body)

— When body was complete, picked up along upper pocket edge on US5 needles and worked a few rows in garter stitch for pocket edging, seamed to adjacent sts from body along both sides; put live sts for pocket lining back on needle and worked in stockinette for 2.5″ (bottom of pocket lines up with first row of waist ribbing); whipstitched to reverse of sweater body after blocking

Worked sleeves flat, decreasing on 20th row then every 8th row 8 times for 47 sts; knit till 15.75″; switched to US6 and decreased evenly to 42 sts while working first row of cuff ribbing

— All ribbing is k3/p2

— Blocked finished sweater and picked up sts for button band on US6: 42 sts along fronts (2/3), 32 sts along slopes, 15 sts along sleeve tops (2/3), 20 sts along back neck (2/3); worked in garter stitch for 1/5″ with double-YO buttonholes on middle row; BO from WS on US8 needles

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PREVIOUSLY in 2016 FOs: 3 Lakesides + 2 Fens = 1 new wardrobe