St. Brendan, ripping for joy

St. Brendan, ripping for joy

There’s a thing that happens to me on those rare occasions that A) I decide to knit a pattern more or less as-is and B) it happens to be a fast knit: I forgo thinking. St. Brendan is an extreme example — I believe it’s literally the first time I have ever knitted a sweater exactly like the sample. Same yarn, same colors, everything. I was excited about the prospect of not thinking, actually, just racing through the knitting and throwing on the sweater! The only thing I took a second to consider was that I’m between sizes, and I made a simple snap decision about that.

I always make my sweaters slightly wider at the hem than the chest because I am wider at the hips (38″) than the boobs (34.5″). Since this one involves colorwork, the stitch counts can’t really be fudged the way I normally would — they have to be a precise multiple for the charts to work out — so I blithely cast on the size 45 body and planned to decrease down to the size 38 stitch counts by the time I got to the join round. And then I tried to squelch the nag in the back of my head who kept muttering “what if the 38 is too small?” I am a fan of a 38″ sweater, I would respond quite firmly. “Yes, but for this sweater? You’ll want more ease.”

To my credit, I did allow that I might have a yoke depth problem, which is why I postponed the sleeves, right? (Good call.) But between the pattern’s fairly shallow yoke dimension at that size and my yoke being even shallower, due to my Compact Row Gauge Curse, it just didn’t fit me right at all. I needed to deepen the yoke and widen both the upper sleeve and the chest dimension for it to fit just the way I like. (NOTE: None of this is in any way a fault of the pattern — these are my personal peccadillos.)

Of all the ways to construct a sweater, bottom-up-seamless is my least favorite. I just really hate knitting that first inch or two after the join round — all that stress on the underarms (and the knitter). So it’s the method I’ve done the least of, and have the least experience tampering with. Had I taken a minute to read into the pattern and think about what was happening, I would have seen that I could easily add stitches and rows where I needed them before getting to the colorwork, but I did not take said minute. See paragraph 1, above.

So what then? When I was writing that Hot Tip about postponing the sleeves, I was like Karen, why didn’t you just start at the bottom of the yoke in this case, if you were worried about the yoke depth and know you don’t like bottom-up-seamless anyway?? And again, that nag was correct — I should have. So now I’ve made up for it. With tremendous joy and liberation and anticipation of a sweater that fits precisely the way I want it to, I ripped out everything but the yoke, which is now back on the needles as if it were a top-down yoke. (All I did was snip a strand at the armhole and unravel that row, then pulled out another row or two on the yoke itself before putting it back on my needles. This is animated for your enjoyment below.) I’ve reallocated the sleeve and body stitches, slightly shifted the motif placement, and recalculated the shaping and yoke depth to match my own preferences, like I do with every other sweater I knit! If you saw the details, you’d feel confirmed in your suspicion that I am a crazy person. I am literally moving things around by a matter of a couple of stitches here and there, but I know what a difference it will make to me in the end. With a sweater that knits up this lightning-quick, why not get it right?

Here’s the other thing: I’ve kept the lower body intact for the time being in case I want to graft it back on, but I am feeling like I’ll probably make it plain black from the yoke down. I’ve been saying for over a year that I want a black sweater with a colorwork yoke (here, here and here), so it seems dumb to make something not quite that, no matter how perfectly gorgeous it may be. But I’m deferring a decision on that point for the moment.

Refresh the page if needed to see this in action:

St. Brendan, ripping for joy

Happy weekend, everybody! We’ll be at Haus of Yarn tomorrow with our mini-Fringe Supply Co, along with Plucky Knitter! If you’re in the Nashville area, I hope we’ll see you there. And if not, there’s a new Amirisu in store this morning and lots of other favorites back in stock — go take a wander.

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PREVIOUSLY in St. Brendan: Hot Tip: Postpone the sleeves

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

Queue Check — Year-end 2016

Queue Check — Year-end 2016

My Knitting Year in Review post makes it seem like 2016 was my Year of Stockinette — and it pretty much was. Of the FOs, the only thing that isn’t plain stockinette is my Anna Vest, which is the next closest thing to it. But apparently I was really just saving the best for last! I’m ending the year with the mesmerizing knits-and-purls of my Channel Cardigan (top, in Clever Camel) and the colorwork of my St. Brendan (bottom, in Arranmore), and loving every minute of it — so happy to squeeze in a spot of colorwork before the year is up. (Can you believe the only cables I knitted all year were on my abandoned first-version knitalong sweater?)

I’ve been on summer break this week — it was my first time off since the beginning of May, and we’ve been in 88-degree Florida, so it felt entirely like summer break. I finished the second Channel sleeve cap on the drive down, and literally made a mistake on almost every row, after having sailed through the rest of the sleeve without a one. Clearly my brain was wanting a holiday, so after finishing up the hem ribbing, I cast on St. Brendan and have been wallowing in … yep, stockinette! Apart from those 14 rows of colorwork, which make it seem like not a plain stockinette project at all.

But a thing happened — it was tiny. Like 38″ around instead of the 45″ it should be. I’d swatched like a good girl, and my blocked swatch (on US9) was spot on, so I had reason to hope it would block out correctly. But rather than plow ahead with worry, I transferred it onto waste yarn (at the point pictured above) and blocked it. It’s totally fine! So a day later, it was back on the needles and I was cruising through the body, which at this point is a good 14″ long or so. And good gravy I love this yarn and this fabric.

I had plans of doing a big, meaty forward-looking Queue Check for today, but decided I’d rather wallow in my holiday, so I’ll think about 2017 plans in January, yeah?

Thank you so much for everything this year, and for all the great comments this week — especially your feedback under Top posts of the year. I’ve been reading them all and will be going back through and responding now that I’m home. Happy New Year’s Eve to you (tomorrow), and I wish you all the best in the coming year—

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: November/December 2016

2016: My sewing year in review

2016: My sewing year in review

So this is a different sort of surprise for me: I sewed 12 garments this year, which is definitely more garments than I sewed in the previous 20 years combined! Granted, they are extremely simple little clothes, averaging maybe a yard and a quarter apiece. But I also haven’t sewn since sometime around mid-August — so really I sewed 12 garments in 7-ish months. And combined with the knitting, I made 21 things this year. No wonder my closet is feeling so much better.

More important, though, I like all of these clothes:

– The wool gauze pullover was worn a lot before it met an unfortunate fate in a dryer. It now lives with an 8-year-old friend, but a pal just sent me a length of the exact same fabric in case I want to make it again!

– The blue striped dress was in regular rotation for awhile and no doubt will be again this spring/summer

– The muumuu doesn’t get a lot of wear, of course, but it makes me smile every time I open my closet door

– The two sleeveless tops — black and blue striped — both factor heavily into my winter wardrobe, and I can’t wait to make another version

– The striped skirt was a test, but it’s gotten a little bit of wear and I’m eager to iterate on it

– The black muscle tee is a total favorite, my first time sewing a knit, and will be repeated soon!

– One reason to look forward to warm weather again is the chance to wear the two little box tops

– And the three camisoles are multi-functional and well-loved

If I have a resolution for 2017, it’s to advance my sewing skills and also figure out how to be more efficient about it. For one thing, I bought a serger back in October, which has yet to emerge from the box, but learning how to use it is my number one priority going into January. As I mentioned yesterday, I feel like I’ve reached a place where I know what I want in my closet. Now to bring my skills up to speed!

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PREVIOUSLY: My 2016 knitting year in review

 

2016: My knitting year in review

2016: My knitting year in review

This little exercise can be such a shock sometimes: I knitted a grand total of 8 things this year — 7 sweaters and a pair of slippers. Can that even be right? But let’s look at it another way:

2016: My knitting year in review

– I made a pullover for my husband (the first sweater I’ve made him) and a linen tee for my sister (the first sweater I’ve made her). Both are well-loved and well-worn. And yes, I did wind up changing the neck on Bob’s to a basic crewneck.

– I made one ill-advised impulse sweater that will very likely never be worn and I’m very close to frogging, as soon as I figure out a better use for the yarn.

– I made these slippers, which are darling and useful. As I noted at the time, Shelter was not a good choice of yarn for slippers — it was just handy at that moment — but I’ve since thrown them in the wash and they felted up quite nicely.

– Oh wait — 9 things! I also knitted the sample for my Camellia Tank pattern that’s featured in the second issue of Making magazine, my great honor of the year. (File under: Top-secret knitting that never made it onto the blog.)

2016: My knitting year in review

And that leaves the four sweaters at the top of the post, which I made for myself, and which you can see amount to a set of fantastic basics: a black pullover, a black vest, a black cardigan, and a black-and-ivory pullover. Total wardrobe building blocks my closet was sorely lacking, and that have either already gotten or will get a ton of wear for years to come.

But the bigger reflection is that I feel like I really reached a great place this year in my knitting. In the past, if I was “working on” anything about my knitting, it was building up skills, or stretching them in whatever ways. More recently, my focus has really shifted to making good choices about what to spend my scant knitting time on — this was even my New Year’s resolution the last two years. Between the knitting (and the sewing) and the blogging about it, I’ve learned a lot about myself in terms of what I’m making, why I’m making my clothes, how much they cost, and how it is adding up to a functional wardrobe. I’ve genuinely reached a place where I’m more interested in quality (in the sense of materials/construction but also how valuable the garment will be to my ability to get dressed) than quantity. So ok, I made myself four great sweaters this year, and that feels like a whopping success.

I’ll forgive myself for the blue thing. ;)

(For more details: see all of my FO posts for 2016 and/or my projects on Ravelry.)

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PREVIOUSLY: 2015 Year in Review

Camellia Tank photo by Carrie Bostick Hoge for Making

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

 

 

 

Days like these deserve knitting like this

Days like these deserve knitting like this

Yesterday was what’s commonly known as “a shitshow” so all I have for you today is a picture of the current state of my Channel Cardigan. But it’s pretty great, right? The photo on Monday’s post was taken back in August when I knitted the first sleeve; the second one and that bit of waist ribbing have been knitted over the past week and a half. What a difference 4.75/in makes! This is truly one of the most pleasant knitting experiences I’ve had so far. The stitch pattern, the yarn … the whole thing just hums. It’s days like these make me that much more grateful that I have knitting waiting for me at the end of them — especially when it’s this.

Channel Cardigan by Jared Flood being knitted in Clever Camel

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