2017: My knitting year in review

2017: My knitting year in review
2017: My knitting year in review

This has been a banner year for me on the knitting front. One of the lowest years in terms of quantity (which is 100% ok with me, regardless) but the best ever for quality. I mean, look at the four sweaters I added to my closet this year: the black modified-St. Brendan yoke sweater, the camel modified-Channel cardigan, the vintage Bernat fisherman and the plain vanilla Improv cardigan — heirloom quality sweaters that I expect to wear and wear and wear. And really there’s a fifth for this list, as I fully intend to have the last ends woven in on my grey Cline sweater before the ball drops. To me, these are hardworking “basics” that are anything but boring. I find them heartmeltingly beautiful. And to be able to say that these are the best garments I’ve ever owned and I made them myself is just a tremendous source of pride and accomplishment. Not gonna lie.

And then there are the three other things I finished this year:

2017: My knitting year in review

The sample hats for my Debutant teaching pattern (which I’m teaching again at Squam next June); the chunky linen Sloper experiment, which has gone to my sister; and the purple lopi pullover from the Improv top-down tutorial, the fate of which is yet to be determined. Actually, it’s determined: I’m excited about the idea of cutting it into a V-neck cardigan; I just haven’t gotten the time or nerve to do it yet. So that’ll be one of 2018’s refashion projects — something truly new to look forward to!

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PREVIOUSLY: 2016 knitting year in review

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2017 FO 18 : Wool muscle tee

Finished : Wool muscle tee

This is the winterized version of my favorite little sleeveless tee: Fancy Tiger’s Adventure Tank View B rendered in the scraps of wool knit I used for my modified Hemlock pullover, themselves already a remnant I bought from Elizabeth Suzann a couple years ago. So it cost me about a dollar, and while it comprises an hour or less of total sewing work, it hilariously took me seven months from start to finish! I cut it out in May; sewed the front and back together sometime over the summer; hemmed it, attached the neckband and jacked up my serger attaching the first armhole band a week ago. So yesterday, on a quiet sunny morning, I took on the unnecessarily daunting task of learning how to rethread the serger and get it working again so I could finally get that last band attached and top-stitched.

I absolutely love how this little tee looks in this cushy grey wool, and it would be quite valuable as an underlayer for my cardigans this winter. What remains to be seen is whether my neck will tolerate it; it is a little bit scratchy. I’m thinking I’ll give it a good soak in a lanolin-soap bath, like I would for any handknit, and cross my fingers — because it’s so very good.

Pattern: Adventure Tank (View B, muscle tee) from Fancy Tiger Crafts
Fabric: unknown grey wool knit remnant

Finished : Wool muscle tee

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Vanilla cardigan

2017 FO 17 : Vanilla cardigan

Finished: Ivory cardigan (free pattern)

This here is a case of a sweater that was begun on a whim, aimed tentatively in a certain direction, took some turns over the course of the knitting, and wound up being exactly what I’ve always wanted.

I cast this on one night after finishing my fisherman sweater, having a couple of skeins left over, not wanting to be done with the yarn, and having been craving this cardigan in this yarn since as far back as my black yoke sweater. (Yep, this is my third sweater in this yarn, Arranmore. True love.) It wasn’t what I was “supposed” to be knitting next, and I thought I might get it out of my system just by knitting a few inches, so I didn’t even put a basting stitch in the raglans. But I was hooked in no time, bought enough yarn to knit it for real, and carried on.

My original sketch was significantly different, pocket-wise, but along the way I ran into this photo and was reminded how much I just really wanted this to be simple, old-school and snuggly. That I have wanted that for ages and can never quite get it. And now that I’m wearing it, I’m so glad I heeded that voice. Between nailing the scale of the pockets and taking time to get the cuffs exactly where I wanted them,* it’s pretty damn perfect. (Still without buttonholes at the moment, but it might stay that way!)

As always with my Improv sweaters, all my notes and counts and measurements are below. I highly recommend copying this one in some nice snuggly yarn — it’s a gem.

Pattern: Improv top-down (free pattern)
Yarn: Arranmore in St. Claire (6.5 skeins)
Buttons: Bone narrow-rim from Fringe Supply Co.

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater hereInstagram posts here, and like it at Ravelry if you do!

Finished: Ivory cardigan (free pattern)

GAUGE

4.25 sts and 6.25 rows = 1 inch (measured over 4″ = 15/25) knitted on US7; ribbing and band on US5

TARGET MEASUREMENTS

22″ back = 94 sts (46 sts/front) = ~44″ chest (9.5″ ease), inc to 46″ hip
14″ upper arm circumference = 60 sts (10 at underarm)
9.5″ yoke/armhole depth (60 rows)
17″ body length (2.5″ hem ribbing)
26.5″ total length
14″ sleeve length (2.25″ cuff ribbing)
9″ cuff circumference
6″ x 6″ pockets (30 sts, 1.5″ ribbing)

DETAILS

— CO 64 sts, divided with markers as follows ( 1 | 4 | 10 | 4 | 26 | 4 | 10 | 4 | 1 )

– Planned on 10 sts cast on at each underarm, and divided the raglan stitches evenly between sections when separating sleeves from body

— Increased at front neck edge every 4th row 11x

— Worked raglan increases as kfb on either side of the 4 raglan stitches

— Increased sleeves at raglans every-other row till 44 sts, then on 4th, 6th, 8th rows (50 sts), then work even

— Increased back/fronts every-other row until 84 back sts

— Separated for sleeves at row 60, cast on 10 per underarm

— Increased body at side seams 2x, at 2″ and 8″; stockinette for 14.5″ then ribbing on US5 for 2.5″

Knitted sleeves flat; decreased on rows 21, 41, 61; on row 81 dec evenly to 42 sts, the ribbing on US5 for 16 rows

— Worked patch pockets separately and grafted on (more on that to come)

— Picked up sts for garter-stitch button band, worked on US5: 14 sts along the hem ribbing (could have been 12), 56 up the front, 51 along the slope, 2 out of 3 around the cast-on edge, mirror down the other side

— No buttonholes (more on that here), may do aferthought buttonhole; buttons are symbolic in the meantime

*I have the sleeves very slight/unevenly pushed up in the photos of me wearing it. Despite how that hanger photo looks (taken just after wearing them unevenly like that), the sleeves are exactly the same length!

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Pants and more pants

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Poor photos of me in a dreamy Cline sweater

Poor photos of me in a dreamy Cline sweater

Since I posted here and on Instagram last week about trying on and casting on the Cline sweater, I’ve had a lot of people asking about the fit. Anytime I get to try on a sample of something, I snap quick photos in order to be able to reference them later if I’m ever actually knitting it. (Now where did the sleeves hit me? Did I like the length? The neck? …) I did the same here and, as usual, they were meant only for me and my camera roll, not for public consumption. I regret not having gotten better photos, but I get why everyone is wondering about this, so here they are for all the world to see! Tweaked as well as they could be. But certainly enough that you can see how it fit me and my big shoulders.

This is the sample size (gorgeous in this mushroom-colored Rimu), 47.25″, and my bust is about 34.5″ — so it’s roughly 13″ of positive ease. You can see the difference in how my shoulders fill it out, versus the original model with slightly narrower shoulders or darling petite Jaime, who also tried it on that day and just finished hers in the same size. So what’s oversized and adorably funky on Jaime looks like a more traditional fit on me.

This one was knitted by Christine, a professional sample knitter, who goes as @a2kiwi on Instagram and a2kiwi on Ravelry. I’m so grateful to her for letting me try it on — thank you, Christine! You can see her project page for it here, and all of her knits here. She’s incredible.

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PREVIOUSLY in Cline: Queue Check, November 2017

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Queue Check — November 2017

Queue Check — November 2017

My already beloved ivory cardigan is essentially finished — just waiting for me to have time to sew on the pockets and buttons — so you should be seeing it here soon. Doing the finishing on a voluminous cardigan didn’t sound like a good road-trip project when we were packing up for the recent family extravaganza, so instead I used the drive time to cast on my Cline sweater in Junegrass.* I’m so happy to finally be knitting myself a plain grey sweater, and to have this incredible yarn in my hands.

Through an act of kindness, I got to try on someone else’s Cline while I was in Denver in September, which is what made me a convert to this sweater. (More on that here.) The only change I’ll need to make is that the sleeves were several inches too short for me. They’re rather unusual sleeves, so I need to think through how best to implement a mod, which means I’ve started with the back instead of a sleeve. And as it happens, knitting a big stockinette rectangle has been the perfect thing for me here in the thick of crazy season.

All of that said, I haven’t given up the idea of casting on a big shawl-collar cardigan in a rush — there’s a red-hot debate about it raging in my brain. As I watch our forecast shift from mid-60s to low-40s in the next two weeks, I’m feeling increasingly nervous about having gone from two shawl-collars to none. I know from having knitted it once that I could cast on a Bellows with my blue Harrisville special and be wearing it by New Years’ (if not Christmas), and I would be extremely happy to have it as we roll into January. (The Sourcebook Chunky Cardigan thus being saved for another yarn, another day.) On the other hand, I have so many plates spinning in general right now that I’d rather be finishing things up, not starting new ones. Plus I might be a skein or two short on the yarn for that. Plus I don’t know how the back of my neck and that yarn get along.

Then there’s also the little matter of my planning and swatching for the Log Cabin Knitalong that kicks off in a month and a day. The smart thing to do would be to stick with the Cline and the swatching for the next month, and go straight into my knitalong project. But especially since that means going from stockinette into garter, I have a neurotic urge to cast on some cables in between! Which brings me back to those cable hats, and specifically the Bulletproof Aran Hat.

Decisions, decisions.

*Mine is from last year’s Batch One, no longer available. There’s currently a Batch Two.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: October 2017

2017 FOs 14-16 : Pants and more pants

2017 FOs 14-16 : Pants and more pants

The most momentous thing for me this year, as a person trying to make most of her own clothes, was deciding to make pants as a part of my Summer of Basics. I think it’s at least as life-changing as having decided to make sweaters a few years ago. (Note that I’m saying “deciding” and not “learning” — making pants is sewing, and making sweaters is knitting. They are just different applications of those skills from what I had previously done, and it’s genuinely more about simply deciding to do it than anything else.) Up until a few months ago, the one giant piece of the wardrobe puzzle that I felt I couldn’t exert control over was pants. And that’s a big one for me since, A) I wear pants about 98% of the time, not being much of a skirts/dresses girl, B) I have fit issues with pants (most women’s pants don’t fit me) and C) I am incredibly picky about the shape of my pants. So to have such a key and complicated aspect of my wardrobe be at the mercy of others has been a lifelong challenge. And to have cracked that nut is enormous.

Certainly sewing jeans was a big effing deal, but these “toddler pants” (as I really need to stop calling them) have had a way more dramatic impact on my closet. And they’re so simple to make! Hence why I’ve now made 4 pairs of them. My lifelong preference is for wide-leg — I watched a lot of Katherine Hepburn movies when I was in high school — and that’s obviously a thing that comes and goes from stores. So I’ve always had to stock up when I find a pair I like. Which might also explain why I immediately cut out 3 more after making the first pair.

These are all essentially the same as my olive-green modified Robbie pants. To recap: I use the leg pieces from that pattern, with a few fit tweaks (noted below and previously), but with my own pockets and a 2″ waistband. Barring any dumb mistakes, I can cut and sew a pair in about 3 hours, so I’m tempted to cut up a lot more of my stash into these exact same pants. The exaggerated shape and utility pockets are both really current and really always-me, and the elastic waist suits my life. Not only do I do a lot of bending, lifting and hauling things, squatting or sitting crossed-legged on the studio floor shooting photos, etc., but comfort is just really critical to me. If I’m not comfortable in my clothes, I’m distracted by that, and with my daily to-do load I can’t afford to be distracted. So for all of those reasons and more, these pants have been a godsend.

2017 FOs 14-16 : Pants and more pants

FO 14: DENIM
These came right after the olive ones and are identical. After marking a change to the pattern to lower the waistline in the back, I forgot to actually do that when I cut them out. Whoops! I also bought stretch denim by accident (at Fancy Tiger while I was there) but just went with it. These are currently my favorite pants, but they are rather heavy in this heavy-weight stretch denim. Next pair will be lighter and non-stretch.

FO 15: NATURAL
When Kristine Vejar was in town to teach in September, she brought me the most thoughtful gift: a length of Huston Textile’s Union Cloth — climate-beneficial California wool and West Texas cotton, woven in California — that happened to be exactly enough for a pair of pants. It’s incredible fabric, unlike anything I’ve ever owned. And as you may have seen, I was sewing with it on the day of the Climate Beneficial Fashion Gala to console myself for not being able to be there — cruising along, feeling pretty pleased with myself … when I absentmindedly attached my waistband to the wrong side of the pants. And serged the seam allowance. If you’ve ever worked with fabric off a smaller loom like this — where there are fewer, larger strands per inch — you know how shreddy it is. And of course I had used a nice tight stitch. So ripping out the construction seam was a painstaking operation, done a little at a time, and then I had to actually cut off the serged edge to separate the waistband from the pants. So these wound up with a 1.5″ waistband instead of 2″, and they’re slightly lower waisted. But they’re kind of perfect, for all that. As special as they are, I’m going to try not to treat them as precious.  Although you probably won’t find me cross-legged on the studio floor in them …

FO 16: CAMO
These were the third to be cut, and their whole reason for existence is so I can wear my beloved old camo pants much more sparingly for however much longer they manage to last. These don’t begin to hold a candle to those spectacular old dears, but they’re pretty great. For this pair, I did lower the back waistline about an inch and I also trimmed away some of the “excess” fabric in the butt and legs (due to my flat ass). So the fit of them is a little more traditional, but I really prefer the baggier ones. This fabric is the dead opposite of the natural pair as far as origins — it’s made in China, purchased from JoAnn online. It’s also on the thin side for pants, despite the product reviews on the website. If anyone knows of a more earth-friendly, heavier duty camo source, please let me know!

To see copious pics of the denim and camo pairs on me, in combination with my other garments, see my 20×30 outfit recap. The natural ones up top are pictured with my Channel cardigan.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The purple lopi pullover

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Queue Check — October 2017

Queue Check — October 2017

October is by far the busiest and most stressful month of the year for me, with everything that goes into having Fringe Supply Co. stocked and ready for the holidays, trying to keep up with #slowfashionoctober, travel and guests, photo shoots, and all the normal day-to-day of running the shop and the blog. I did finish the purple pullover since last month, though, and have somehow managed to make late-night progress on this big, delicious cardigan (Improv in Arranmore). I even took it on the Rhinebeck trip* with me, hoping to get deep into the second sleeve, but all I got done was the buttonband. Instead of casting on a sleeve of my grey Cline sweater by now, as I had proposed last month, my tiny alternative project has been this tweaked Stadium Hat for Bob (in the squishy smudge-colored yarn Purl Soho sent me last year), which has only a few stitches left to go.

At this point, I’m still eager about the Cline, wardrobe-wise, but I’m also desperate to be knitting something more engaging, so I’m back to pondering what will take up the shawl-collar role in my closet (after I went from two to none). I’m about 90% decided on Norah Gaughan’s Sourcebook Chunky Cardigan, and think that might be what the blue Harrisville yarn I got at Rhinebeck is destined for. So getting to knit that swatch is now the carrot at the end of my stick!

*If you fly with a Porter Bin tucked into a Woollelujah! tote, like I do, there’s no reason not to take an entire gargantuan sweater with you!

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: September 2017