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.

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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

I’m joining the start-over club!

I'm joining the start-over club!

It’s funny what a photo can show you. When I took the pic for last week’s blog post of my yoke laying flat, it was to accompany my paragraph about how I was chugging along exactly as planned. But what I noticed as I was posting it was (despite all my planning about how to get the stitch pattern to align correctly at the front neck) I had completely neglected to worry about how the stitch pattern aligned at the raglan seams. As a person who struggles with perfectionist tendencies, it’s funny that I didn’t notice or think to worry about it sooner, and it’s impossible to ignore now that I’ve seen it. So all last week I struggled with it. You’ve all made an incredible impression on me — all of the fearlessness and determination and good-natured ripping that’s been going on in the #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 — and so there’s no way I was going to leave it. I didn’t even mind the idea of ripping back and restarting, in principle, but what was bothering me all last week as I thought about it was that I didn’t want to start this sweater over.

For me to knit an ivory cable sweater that isn’t the Aran sweater I’ve been talking about for the last five years is just silly. (I’ve already knitted a cardigan instead of that longed-for pullover.) And I also don’t think it’s the very best use of the Pebble, which is too good to waste on the wrong stitch for it. But with Slow Fashion October upon us, I’m more mindful than ever about not knitting a sweater just to knit it, or because it might be a cute sweater, or because there’s a knitalong going on. I’m determined to only to make garments that both A) I desperately want to exist an B) will have a distinct impact on my overall wardrobe. This ivory cable sweater was meeting neither of those criteria. So I listened to my apathy and decided to scrap it — and it truly felt like a #rippingforjoy decision, as Felicia calls it. The question was: What to do instead?

I spent several days pondering it, going back to my original thought of a light-colored, lightweight, lightly textured pullover, looking through the blog and Pinterest and stitch dictionaries seeking inspiration for what to do with this ivory yarn, and coming up empty. I kept finding myself wanting to incorporate a second color — a pinstripe? Mosaic stitch pattern? Stranding of some kind? Saturday night I found myself pawing through my stash bin, and my hand kept going to the two skeins of black Pebble in there. Karen, focus! Ivory Pebble, not black. Frustrated, I literally laid down on the floor of my little workroom, stared at the blank ceiling, and asked myself what my closet was really missing. Again my mind went to that black yarn and the idea of stripes. STRIPES! Not just any stripes — black and ivory awning stripes, à la Debbie Harry. I hopped up and pulled up the Fall ’16 Mood board I’d recently made to look for that photo I’ve loved for ages, and found it and a Jenni Kayne striped tee sharing space on the inspiration board I’d been neglecting to consult. The answer was right there the whole time.

And I have to tell you, the instant I settled on it, I could not wind that yarn and cast on fast enough. (I even already had a swatch!) The yarn is so happy now — the fabric is amazing! — and this is a sweater I cannot wait to be wearing.

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Speaking of things photos show us, Jen also made a decision prompted by her photo for last week’s post. Fisherman’s rib in-the-round is sort of like garter stitch — it leaves a mark where you switch from knitting on one round to purling on the next. She hadn’t noticed it was causing two of the ribs to sit awkwardly close together until she took that pic of Jon wearing it. So after some discussion and deliberation and swatching, she’s settled on “half-brioche” which is a version of fisherman’s rib that includes a resting row, which should obviate the issue. I love her new swatch even more than what she had going — and the hope is it will also eat less yarn, be less onerous knitting, and lead to a less heavy garment. So we’re both starting over!

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PREVIOUSLY in Top-Down Knitalong: Panelist check-in

3 Lakesides + 2 Fens = 1 new wardrobe [2016 FOs No.14-18]

3 Lakesides + 2 Fens = 1 new wardrobe

If you’re thinking it’s late for me to be getting serious about summer clothes, I would just like to let you know it’s approaching 7pm as I’m typing this and the heat index is still 100°. Summer here has decided to get much worse before it gets better. And besides, I’ve realized these are great summer-into-fall pieces! They’re two of the five items from my master summer sewing plan, plus clones thereof: 3 modified Lakeside Pajamas camisole tops and 2 Fen tops. And between them, I feel like I have a whole new wardrobe!

I sewed the first of the camisoles — the light indigo one — on the last Saturday of July, and for the next week all I could think about was making a whole pile of them. One in every fabric on my shelf! Not only are they quick and simple and fun to make, but it dawned on me how great they’ll be hanging out from under all my sweaters this winter. It was a one-week addiction, seriously. I would find myself, late at night before heading for bed, bent over my worktable cutting out another one. I started calling them “my bonbons.” It was true love. By the end of the week there were three, and I decided that might be enough for the moment.

Regarding my major modification on this, I replaced the crescent criss-cross pajama back (which is darling) with a regular back. Jen mentioned to me that, on that pattern piece, the grainline marking is at the center back, so I used that as the fold line and fudged the bottom and side lines based on the front piece (with the dart folded closed). Thankfully it occurred to me that most of the width of this top is in that swingy back — if I were making it as per the original pattern, I’d probably make a 6. But with my mod removing that back panel and its swinginess, I started from the size 10 in tracing/making my pattern pieces. And it worked out perfectly.

The other thing I did is to vary the side and hem treatment on each one. Indigo has a split hem and slightly lower back. Ikat has a longer, curved hem which I just freehanded and wish I had traced to repeat! And greenie has a plain hem because I was sewing in public and forgot to leave the split at the sides. And the fabric is too fussy for ripping and redoing anything. For ikat and greenie, I also cut the back with the pattern piece an inch or two from the fold line, adding inches of width to the back, which I then gathered back down to size. I completely adore all three of them.

. . . . .

Then last weekend I wanted to make the intended blue-striped Fen but felt really unsure about the size and fit, given the shape of this pattern versus my shoulders. So I cut a straight 8 out of a hunk of natural linen I had left over from my dress. Now, the thing about my sewing a Fen (or two) is it was me having a whole big discussion with myself about how it’s ok for there to be some clothes that only work in summer — that aren’t suitable for layering over or under, due to their width and length — and that it’s a good thing. Not wearing the same clothes all year means having some variety to look forward to! But it turns out I love it layered over the Lakesides!  The 8 is really cute on me but pulls a little across the shoulders. So I went up to a 12 for the blue stripe, and also modified the hemline — I lowered the front and raised the back so the difference between them is not quite so severe. I love them both, but I think the 10 is probably the ideal size for me. And it will be no hardship to make another.

The only other mod I made on the Fens is the neck. I freehanded a round neck and then finished it with bias instead of the prescribed neckband. I love the band from Fen (and have used it repeatedly on other garments since first trying it) but felt like if I was going to do it here, I’d want to give it the full double-needle treatment, which I wasn’t in the mood for on the linen one! When it came to the blue one, I didn’t want to use any of my remaining yardage cutting bands on the bias, so I used a strip of bias left from my striped sleeveless top and turned it to the inside, so it’s a tiny bit of hidden contrast.

Fen has proven to be the perfect shape for wearing with the Seneca skirt, so I’m more eager than ever to make the black ikat version of that — along with the rest of my summer list.

3 Lakesides + 2 Fens = 1 new wardrobe

LAKESIDE CAMISOLES
Pattern: Lakeside Pajamas by Grainline Studio (used less than 1 yard fabric)

1. Indigo
Fabric: Hand-dyed linen-hemp given to me by a friend
Cost: $18 pattern + gift fabric = $18

2. Ikat
Fabric: Black and white ikat purchased from Fancy Tiger Crafts for $13.50/yard
Cost: reuse pattern + $13.50 fabric = $13.50

3. Greenie
Fabric: “Seedlings” India-loomed cotton by my friend Anna Maria Horner, purchased at Craft South for $14/yard
Cost: reuse pattern + $14 fabric = $14

FEN TOPS
Pattern: Fen by Fancy Tiger Crafts (used approx 1.5 yards fabric)

1. Linen
Fabric: Bought half-price last year at JoAnn, I’m guessing about $6/yard
Cost: reuse pattern + $9 fabric = $9

2. Blue stripe
Fabric: Unknown Japanese cotton remnant bought for $5/yard
Cost: reuse pattern + $7.50 fabric = $7.50

So that’s a grand total of $62 these five tops cost me! (Including one new pattern I’ll get lots more use out of.) The natural denim jeans are Willies from Nashville’s Imogene+Willie (made in LA from Japanese denim), bought on clearance. The Salma sandals were the deal of the century from Jane Sews. Feeling pretty good about all of this!

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PREVIOUSLY in 2016 FOs: Adventure Tank and Seneca Skirt

Queue Check — August 2016

Queue Check — August 2016

My phase of serial monogamy seems to have officially ended. It was nice while it lasted, but now instead of completing any knitting projects, I just keep casting on new ones! There are currently five sweaters and two hats on my needles. One sweater and both hats are officially registered with Wool Protective Services as orphans at this point, but that leaves four active sweaters:

1) The black Linen Quill cardigan is the longest I’ve ever taken to complete a simple top-down sweater. In my defense, other sweaters with hard deadlines have pulled me away from it. But this continues to be the sweater I most urgently need. So in Stockinette Situations for the foreseeable future, this is the one I’ll reach for.
Current status: body is complete and one sleeve barely started; needs sleeves, pocket and button band

2) The purple Lettlopi pullover that was the basis of the new Improv pattern and revised tutorial would be the quickest one to finish, and it would be nice to have a photo to post and something to cross off! But it’s the least pressing in terms of being even remotely wearable, much less needed. Motivation will come blowing in around Thanksgiving.
Current status: body nearly complete; needs a second sleeve, another pass at whipstitching the neckband down, and some seams

3) The long-awaited Channel Cardigan in Clever Camel is finally on the needles! This is the one I simply want the most desperately — and I can’t stop fantasizing about somehow having it for my travels in early October — but I know it’s going to be a long road and I’ll have to be patient.
Current status: just half of one sleeve, with a dropped ply in the fisherman’s rib to be dealt with

4) My Top-Down Knitalong sweater in Shibui Pebble is a joy to knit and I know I’ll absolutely love wearing it, but I expect to be working on it for awhile!
Current status: yoke is just past the neck join, long ways to go

On the sewing front, rather than making those 5 things I said I wanted to complete before summer ends, I apparently decided to make 3 of 1 thing! I’ll post those FOs soon, but the other 4 pieces remain in the queue!

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: July 2016

KTFO-2016.12 and 13: Adventure Tank and Seneca Skirt

FOs: Adventure Tank and Seneca Skirt

Having sworn to document all Finished Objects on the blog this year, as well as elaborating on how they fit into my overall wardrobe, I’m posting about these two aforementioned finishes today—

No.12: My first me-made t-shirt — and the first of many Adventure Tanks to come. As I mentioned in my summer sewing plan, this is a Medium and I love it but will make the next one (striped!) in size Small. This looks great with jeans and such on its own, but you can see above it’s a little big to be worn with the skirt and would look better scaled down in comparison, which would also be better for layering under other things. The only change I made was to lengthen it by 1.5″, and then I didn’t hem it (I’m liking it raw) so it wound up 2.5″ longer than the pattern calls for. I couldn’t love this hemp jersey any more than I do — it’s amazing.

No.13: My test sew of Seamwork’s Seneca skirt (designed for jersey), using the leftovers from my blue striped top to see if I would like it in a woven. The verdict: Eh, almost. I don’t think it’s outstanding in this particular fabric (I’ll like it better in something darker) and as previously noted, my plan for the next pass at it is to go up a size for the skirt front/back and gather them to fit the Medium waistband. This one is a straight Medium — only modification I made was to omit the side-seam insert panels and just seam the front and back together.

As with most every garment on earth, I like the skirt best with layers and boots. The question still remains whether I’ll ever really be a skirt person, but becoming a summer-clothes person seems beyond my capacities.

FOs : Adventure Tank and Seneca Skirt

TEE
Pattern: Adventure Tank (view B) from Fancy Tiger Crafts
Fabric: Black hemp jersey from Fancy Tiger Crafts bought for $20/yard
Cost: Free download from my CreativeBug account + $6 to print + $20 fabric = $26

SKIRT
Pattern: Seneca from Seamwork Magazine
Fabric: Unknown Japanese cotton remnant bought for $5/yard
Cost: $12 pattern + $7 to print + $7 fabric + $2 elastic + $1 grommets = $29

Also pictured:  black lopi raglan and off-black chunky turtleneck

NOTE: For those of you who were wishing for a pattern for my striped top, above, and its black precursor, I had mentioned that Amber’s Adventure Tank (muscle tank variation, view B) looked like it might prove to be the thing. And I think it’s safe to say it is — just look at the top two photos up there to see how similar they are! To make Adventure in a woven, you might need to go up a size — definitely make sure the neckhole goes over your head — and cut your bands on the bias. For the hi/low split hem, just straighten out the lower sides and hemline, making the front and back panels as long as you want them, and leave a split in the side seam to your liking. Add pockets if you want. Let me know if you try it!

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PREVIOUSLY in 2016 FOs: Gathered Skirt, take two

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016 : Preview and plans

Fringe and Friends Knitalong 2016 : Preview and plans

The pattern: Improvised top-down — no patterns allowed!
The schedule: August 15 through September 30, 2016
The hashtag: #fringeandfriendsKAL2016

This is by far the most advance notice I’ve ever given about a knitalong — and with good reason! I’m talking about the Fringe and Friends Knitalong for Fall 2016 here, and this one is a little different. Whereas in 2014 we knitted the Amanda fisherman-style cardigan (or other fisherman pattern of your choosing) and in 2015 we knitted the Cowichan-style Geometric Vest (or other Cowichan-style pattern of your choosing), this year there is no pattern. I don’t mean it’s a free-for-all — I mean we’re making up our own top-down sweaters, no patterns allowed! So I thought it might be good to give you a little extra time to dream up your sweater, read my tutorial on how to improvise a top-down sweater if you haven’t done it before, and generally prepare for what’s bound to be one helluva fun challenge. Plus we’re starting a little earlier this year, so consider this fair warning!

While I’m insanely proud of the tutorial and the untold number and variety of sweaters that have been knitted from it over the past few years, the photos are horrendous! It’s long been a goal of mine to update the images and some of the text, and I’m currently working on that. It will all be spiffed up before the knitalong begins.

THE PLAN

I’ll officially kick off the knitalong on Monday Aug 15 with a simple outline of how top-down works (a new companion to the full tutorial), followed by this year’s Meet the Panel post! (I’ve got a really fun group lined up.) After that, I’ll have a post each week exploring some variations or techniques not included in the original tutorial. We’ll wrap that up at by the end of September (in time for Slow Fashion October to kick off!) and I’ll show you the finished panelist sweaters as they’re completed.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

There is no sign-up form or deadline (or Ravelry group to join) or anything like that. To knit along, simply knit along! It can be any sweater you have in your head that works as a top-down sweater — pullover or cardigan, plain or embellished, whatever yarn/gauge your heart desires. My tutorial covers raglan-style sweaters, but if you are familiar with other top-down approaches (such as contiguous set-in sleeves) and want to use those methods, that’s totally cool — as long as A) it’s top-down and B) there’s no pattern. If you’ve never done this before, here’s your chance to learn how to knit without a pattern, completely to your own shape and preferences, and to gain an invaluable understanding of how sweater shaping works in the process — which will make you a more confident knitter and enable you to tailor patterns to your liking in the future!

Ask questions and share your progress in the comments here, and/or use the hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 wherever you post. You’ll have a whole raft of people willing to help!

PRIZES

Yes, there will be prizes. For this one, I’m going back to the “WIP of the Week” idea from the first year. Post your progress photos between Aug 15 and Sept 30, using hashtag #fringeandfriendsKAL2016 (on Instagram, Ravelry or Twitter) and I’ll pick a winner each week, which I’ll also feature on the blog.

That’s it! I’m soooo excited to see the variety of sweaters that will materialize as part of this, as well as the friendships that always form among participants along the way. Are you excited? Do you already have ideas about what to make? Let’s hear it!

SEE ALSO: FAQ and Addenda and Top-Down Ideas for me and you

Yarn pictured is Lettlopi in color 1413; brass stitch markers from Fringe Supply Co.