Acer: the final chapter in an epic tale of a girl and her cardigan

Acer cardigan as knitted by Karen Templer / Fringe Association

Raise your hand if you thought I’d never finish knitting this Acer. (It’s ok — even my hand is half-raised.) Now keep it up if you formed the impression I wasn’t enjoying it. Anyone? It’s perfectly understandable, what with my having spent most of eleven months neglecting it, but really, nothing could be further from the truth.

I first chose this pattern in part because I wanted to make myself seam something, and this has a body that’s knitted in one piece with separate sleeves seamed on at the end. It didn’t seem like a daunting project at all — I’d knitted more complicated lace patterns than this, although not worked flat; had picked up stitches for enough collars that nailing this one was no problem at all. (Would you pause for a second on that last pic and look at how perfectly symmetrical this neck is?) I was well-versed in figuring out the right ratio when picking up stitches along a selvedge, as for the button bands, and had read and imagined various buttonholes, without having actually knitted one. But somehow, despite all that, doing it all in concert for this particular outcome was like taking a really enjoyable master class. I loved every step of it: the portability of those standalone sleeves, working the very simple and pleasurable (easily memorized) charted stitches, becoming an ace at laddering back to fix mistakes, blocking the body and seeing the lace spread out, steaming the button bands and collar as each one got added. Even seaming on those sleeves! It seemingly didn’t teach me much that was new, but because it’s not a hand-holdy pattern — it assumes you know what you’re doing —  it put my skills to the test in a progressive manner. And passing that test — especially solving the fun little puzzle of the exact right neck decreases, row by row, based on where I happened to be in the chart — increased my confidence as a knitter tenfold.

But screw all that — have you seen the sweater I got out of it?! At one point, I was posting a progress shot in Instagram and I got a little self-conscious about everyone applauding my efforts. One very kind person complimented me on my determination to finish, and I said it was sad that I’d made it seem like some epic thing simply by not working on it for months on end. But once the sleeves were on, I held it up to show my friend Leigh and her eyes got huge, and she gulped, and she said to me: “It’s EPIC.” And I realized she’s right. It IS epic! And I’m super proud of it.

Acer cardigan as knitted by Karen Templer / Fringe Association

This is my fifth or sixth (finished) sweater, but it’s the first one that feels like a Real Sweater, somehow. I am completely smitten with it, even though I wish I’d done the button bands differently. I’m super judgy about button bands, not gonna lie, and this isn’t my favorite kind. I like the look of them, but think horizontal ribbing like this is often too flimsy, and to me nothing ruins a sweater like a gaping button band, all pulled into scallops. I’m not sure why I wound up doing it this way, after swearing all along I was going to do a 1×1 vertical band. But I did, and because I was concerned about the stability of it (even though most or all of the Acers I have bookmarked look perfectly fine!) I used seven buttons instead of six, which doesn’t quite quell my neurosis. So I might back the bands with ribbon at some point. Regardless, I’m wearing this forever, and can hardly wait for the first time someone asks me if I made it.

Yes!

Pattern: Acer by Amy Christoffers
Yarn: Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed, in Nest
Buttons: from Fringe Supply Co.

For gory details, minor modifications and additional pics check it out at Ravelry. And thank you to every single person who cheered me on, and to Amy for creating such a fantastic pattern.

Acer cardigan as knitted by Karen Templer / Fringe Association

Contemplating monogamy — and a new pouch!

Acer cardigan progress — and a new long tool pouch!

Check it out! I’m finally making some real progress on my Acer cardigan. It turns out the secret to making a sweater is to actually work on it. This is the problem with my wanting to knit sweaters all the time — they take so long (comparatively) that I wander off and make other things, which makes the sweater take that much longer and seem like a bigger undertaking than it actually is. I’m stating the obvious here, obviously. So I’m considering becoming a knitting monogamist. Seriously. I think it’s like multi-tasking, where all the things you’re doing at once wind up taking longer than if you did them sequentially. I don’t know if it’s possible for me, but I’m going to give it a genuine try. If I can maintain focus, I may be wearing this one by Halloween. (Do you think I’ll have enough yarn?)

The other thing I’m contemplating is needle storage. Like to the point that it’s become a minor obsession. I have a few different ideas in various stages of conception/development, which I’m very excited about. But what’s most immediately exciting is the needle pouch Amy Tremper of Stitch & Hammer sent me this week, seen above. It turns out she knits — she’s been holding out on me — and recently made herself a long version of the Wrapper pouch to hold her needles, and then thought maybe I’d like to stock it at Fringe Supply Co. Which of course I would! I fell so instantly in love with it — the minute I plopped a handful of needles and hooks into it — that I went ahead and photographed it and added it to the shop. So it’s available today as a preorder! And Amy will begin making them as orders are coming in. Orders received in the next week or so (depending on volume) should be ready to ship out by the 25th, with further batches to follow. So the sooner you order, the sooner yours will be in your hot little hands!

Have a great weekend, everyone — thanks for reading!

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Acer and open house

Acer cardigan knitted up to the underarms

After constantly setting it aside in favor of newer, quicker projects, I’m finally getting somewhere on this Acer cardigan of mine — thanks in large part to having taken it and only it on my latest trip. (Where I also cast on the sleeve; I don’t dare knit the lace bits while talking and drinking.) I’m sizing it to match my very favorite cardigan — this camel cabled J.Crew number from a few years back — and I was surprised to see I’ve reached the desired body depth. However, the armholes on Acer are a little smaller, so I’m going to knit another inch or two to compensate, before beginning to shape the fronts and back. Which is new territory! I love new territory.

But the biggest thing happening this weekend is the Fringe Supply Co. open house! As previously mentioned, the artists in my compound are having open studios and I’m taking it as an opportunity to let people shop the Fringe shelves in person. And BONUS! Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep is going to be here with a big heap of yarn, including a new worsted-weight that isn’t listed in the shop yet. (But will be!) So if you’re anywhere near Berkeley, come see great art, hear great music, eat great hot dogs, and pick up all those lovely goods you know you’ve been wanting! More details here.

Fringe Supply Co open house

See you back here next week!

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WIPs for the road

Travel essentials - yarn, shoes, iPad

I am, as they say, leaving on a jet plane; don’t know when I’ll be back again. Back to blogging, I mean. I’ve given myself permission to take a little blog vacation next week, but we’ll see whether I’m able to stay away. In other words, expect posting for the next week to be somewhere between sporadic and non-existent. I will check in on comments plus Instagram and Twitter, so if you want to see pictures of my niece learning to knit or of Kansas cows (both likely), tune in there.

Traveling with me are exactly two knitting WIPs. One low-attention item, which you may have noticed is another Textured Shawl. (This one will be a slight variation on the pattern, and I’m using the Kathmandu Chunky left over from my Walpole.) And for putting the uninterrupted flight time to maximum use, my neglected Acer cardigan. Not accompanying me are any spare needles or yarn for possible spontaneous cast-ons. If I finish the shawl and need another low-attention option (not likely), I can cast on a sleeve for the Acer. One way or the other, I’m determined to make serious progress on this cardigan over the next few days.

Wish me luck!

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In quick Fringe Supply Co. news, the latest issue of Taproot has landed. And please note that orders placed today (Friday) through Tuesday will ship on Wednesday. Thanks again to all the lovely patrons of FSCo. I love packing up your packages.

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Be well, and I still want to hear what you’re working on …

Acer: Or, the redemptive value of light and shadow

Acer cardigan knitting in progress

I rarely have time to work on this lovely Acer cardigan — I really should be finishing up the improv sweater, after all — but every hour I spend with it makes me so happy and proud of myself. There are really only two rows in the chart (one of which is “knit the knit stitches and purl the rest”), with the occasional cable thrown in. So once you get it in your head, it’s super meditative to knit. Hopefully I’ll get some quality time with both sweaters this weekend.

But here’s a little something I really want to share about this. The yarn is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in the color Nest. I ordered it from Knit Purl about a year ago (with a gift certificate from my beloved friend Mignon — thanks, MK!) for a very simple stockinette cardigan I had in mind. I was a little disappointed with the color when I pulled it out of the envelope — it seemed a bit wan, to put it mildly. But I cast on for that cardigan and … quickly lost interest. By the time I decided I really hated it, the returns window had closed. Eventually, though, I realized the problem was the stockinette. What this color needed to give it more depth was exactly that — depth. The light and shadows that come from ribbing and cables and yarnovers. So that’s when I went looking for Slightly Lacy Cardigans and settled on Acer. And I couldn’t be happier — they’re a match made in heaven.

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By the way, I don’t know if it’s on account of people packing away their winter woolens, or what, but there’s been a run on the jumbo cedar sachets in the shop lately. I almost hate to sell them, because they make my studio smell amazing, but there’s plenty to go around!

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What are you working on this weekend?

How Acer saved my sanity and my Saturday

african basket full of knitting projects

Do you ever have one of those days where you feel like a complete waste of planetary space? I wish I could acquire the knack for saying “Screw it, I’m not gonna get anything done today regardless — might as well go have some fun.” Instead, I spend the whole day trying to force something useful out of myself and failing. And by nightfall I just utterly despise myself and know I’ll toss and turn all night as a result. It’s completely obnoxious of me. But such was my day on Saturday. Raising my irritation level was that, as evening rolled around and I was ready to knit, there was nothing in my overflowing bucket of WIPs that sounded mollifying. I’m back to that state of having way too many things half-knitted, which generally means none of them are lighting me up — hence the casting on of more and more projects. My husband was determined to watch The Hobbit, which I have zero interest in, so it was an opportunity to focus 100% on something else, and I decided: It was time for Acer.

I’d knitted the ribbing for the waist here and there over the past month but hadn’t yet dug into the lace charts. In my already crabby state it seemed like a very bad idea, and yet in I went. It took me more than an hour (and no small amount of cussing) to do the setup row, as I counted my stitches over and over and over and over — nothing out of place, and yet I was one stitch short at the end of the row. (And it wasn’t a problem with my cast-on, or my ribbing would have been off!) Once I was convinced every stitch within the charted sections was exactly as it should be, I threw caution to the wind and did a kfb in the last stitch to make up for the one that apparently fell into the Bermuda Triangle. Then I turned the work over and was struck by the realization that I was not only going to have to work the charts backwards, obviously, but I’d have to work out which charts I was working the backs of, and in what order. Hanging my head, I asked again why I was doing this at this moment. But I took a minute and a deep breath, made some notes, and plowed ahead.

Eight fast and flawless rows later my self-hatred had been replaced with a remarkable sense of accomplishment. Not that it helped the to-do list situation, but still, I slept like a baby.

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This week’s ICYMI post: New Favorites: Little sweaters — maybe I’ll get one (or both) of these made this year!

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New Favorites: Slightly lacy cardigans

slightly lacy cardigan knitting patterns

I’ve been on a bit of an epic quest lately for one perfect cardigan pattern. Something that’s interesting to knit and a little skill-expanding, but that’s still stylistically simple enough that I’ll want to wear it in the end. It doesn’t take much for a thing to be too fussy looking for me, after all. Shape-wise, at this point, I’m pretty sure what I want is a nice, timeless crewneck, hip-length, no cables on the arms. Worsted weight. I think I’ve narrowed it to these three gems. What do you think?

Clockwise from top:

Acer by Amy Christoffers: killer cables on front and back; bottom-up seamless body with seamed-in sleeves

Lady Marple by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne: understated eyelet cables only on the front; bottom-up seamless with picked-up stitches for the sleeves

Neon by Joji Locatelli (pictured is bouillesdecoton’s version): allover lattice stitch; top-down with the contiguous-sleeve method I’ve been wanting to try

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