Queue Check — May 2016

Queue Check — May 2016

Of the three sweaters I was planning to cast on in last month’s Queue Check, one is finished and one is actually not cast on yet. I hurried up and got the camel yarn for my Channel Cardigan intending to start it on the drive to Florida, but once in the car realized I couldn’t do the actual cast-on as I hadn’t brought any waste yarn and the needles I needed weren’t in my case. I am an undying fan of the tubular cast-on that BT uses in their patterns; I’ve probably said this a hundred times before but it is so much better than any other “tubular” version I’ve encountered. So no way was I going to skip over it for expediency in this particular case. I want every detail of that sweater to be perfect.

With Flex finished and Channel in waiting, that leaves my Linen Quill cardigan (improvised top-down) as the object of my current affection. I cast this one on in the car, wished like hell I’d brought it with me on the boat, and then set it aside to finish Flex — knowing that if I set Flex aside for even a moment, I might not pick it back up again. This one is just a dream to knit. The yarn is so pleasing in my hands and I’ve never done a cardigan top-down before, so I’ve had fun with the yoke calculations and shaping, and just got the sleeves separated over the weekend. Once it’s fully into the boring stockinette body phase, I’ll cast on Channel so I’ll have the two to choose from, according to circumstances.

I also have one little must-knit project for June, which I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about. So I’ll tell you about that when I can!

On the sewing front, TNNA (the yarn trade show) is coming up in a couple of weeks and I’m hoping to make a new dress before then. Because truly all I want is dresses and sweaters right now.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: April 2016

Queue Check — April 2016

Queue Check — April 2016

In addition to the blue Loopy Mango pullover I knitted since my last Queue Check (which was nowhere on the radar), my black Anna Vest is also now finished, and I can’t wait to show it to you. But I also can’t wait to cast on what’s next! I’ve made some decisions about that whole vacation knitting conundrum and have basically decided to cast on ALL THE THINGS. I’ve been such a good little monogamist lately, mostly, but it does get me into trouble from time to time. So here’s what I’ve decided:

1) I’m officially going with the Clever Camel for my long-debated (to put it mildly) Channel Cardigan — my yarn arrived on Friday! Once I had knitted and blocked this swatch, I knew it was meant to be. I literally have been carrying the swatch around with me, I love it so much. What I’ve been trying to find for this one is a yarn that’s both snuggly and rugged, which is a very tricky (nearly impossible) combo. So in that sense, this wound up being an easy commitment to make. On the other hand, that rare mix of softness and durability comes with a hefty price tag. This will literally be the most expensive garment I’ve ever owned, so I did have to take a few deep breaths before placing the order. But it’s an investment I believe in. This swatch is so insanely beautiful and soft and light and amazing in every way — and the yarn (and its gorgeous halo) looks incredible with Channel’s stitch pattern. But the 100% baby camel fiber is even warmer and more durable than wool, and it doesn’t pill. So for a sweater I expect to spend months knitting and decades wearing, it’s completely worth it. And this yarn is such a joy to have running through my fingers, I know I’ll be blissed out for every minute of the knitting.

[[ SPECIAL NOTE: Jones & Vandermeer has very kindly offered a discount for any of you who might want to give Clever Camel a try. Use discount code FRINGE at checkout and it will deduct 10% off your order of Clever Camel. Good through May 13, 2016. ]]

I’m going to go ahead and cast on for this, but I intend to basically spend the whole summer knitting it. Since there’s no rush and this one won’t be the best thing for social situations, travel situations (other than at the beginning) or the occasional brain-fried-on-the-couch-at-night situations, there will also be stockinette in progress—

2) I’ve decided the black Linen Quill will become the lightweight, 4-season (a/c combat) cardigan I talk about needing at the start of every summer. I’m going to knit it top-down, ultra basic, with inset pockets and a vertical button band — all the traits I believe comprise the perfect timeless cardigan. I’m planning to cast on this one tonight at Knit Picking Night at Craft South. If you’re in Nashville, I hope you’ll come! 5-7, as usual.

3) I am definitely going to do the black Flex in the near term, but I’m leaving it up to fate whether it goes to Florida with me. I’ll be able to get the yarn for this one locally at Nutmeg, so I’m just waiting for news of its arrival.

By the way, I’ve seen it suggested a few different times and places that I’m hosting a Channel knitalong? I have no such plans! At least not in any formal sense. But if anyone else wants to cast on and knit it at the same time as me, the more the merrier!

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: March 2016

Reorganizing my to-knit list

Reorganizing my to-knit list

Sooooo, wardrobe planning. Where was I? Let’s see: handmade wardrobe, quicker sweaters, choosing wisely … right. My very favorite thing about making my own clothes — control freak that I am — is having near-total control. You know what it’s like to decide you want some specific thing and then try to find it: Impossible. But if you’re making things yourself, you have a little more flexibility to actually imagine your ideal wardrobe and then bring it to fruition, as opposed to being at the mercy of what’s in stores. I’m saying “near-total” and “a little more flexibility” because unless you’re weaving your own fabric or spinning and dyeing your own yarn, you’re still a little at the mercy of what’s in stores — they’re just different kinds of stores.

Still and all, I am dreaming up the basics I want in my closet and working out those little issues of what yarns and fabrics are available — and that includes shopping my stash. I have three more basic/timeless cardigans at the head of the list (and tops to go under them, but that’s for another post): Bellows, being a chunky, slouchy shawl-collar; Uniform, being a classic v-neck, without the shaped neckband; and Channel, being a more refined shawl-collar. And I want them in just the right combination of timeless neutrals. (To add to my ivory Amanda cable sweater, brown Acer cable-and-lace jobbie, and purple Trillium, the one spot of color.)

I’m nearing the end of Amanda and have found myself plagued by it and by my mental wranglings over what yarn to use for Bellows. Tormented! In my sleep. I knew I wanted (needed — both from a quick-finish and freezing-weather perspective) Bellows to be next, but could not figure out the right yarn. Or even the right color. I was thinking light heather grey, since Channel is meant to be charcoal and camel-colored yarn is so distressingly hard to come by. But after debating every possible worsted-weight (held double) and bulky on the market, I finally realized the answer was right in front of me. When I first ordered the Graphite O-Wool Balance for Channel, I ordered 21 skeins and had no idea why so much. I just had to have it. Then came the realization that I was going to have to alternate skeins for the entire sweater, which is unfortunate. After swatching for Bellows with O-Wool Balance Bulky (in the color I just happened to have in my stash, a light purple), and not loving the stitch pattern, I started wondering if I even really wanted this sweater. I decided to knit another swatch holding two strands of the graphite Balance together, and I fell in love with that swatch and got more excited than ever. As fabulous as Channel was looking in this color, it was meant for Bellows, and the universe told me to buy enough way back when. Right? Plus using the yarn held double means the skeins will automatically be blended, especially if I stagger the ends. It’s perfect on every level.

Then there’s Uniform. Since tossing off the idea of reassigning my Slade yarn to Uniform, I’ve become obsessed with the idea of this ultra-classic sweater in army green. I’m trying to work out if I can eke it out of the mismatched skeins I have (and feel like dealing with possible gauge differences) or if I’ll need to choose something else. If it does have to be something else, leading candidates are Knightsbridge in Bishop’s Green and Balance again in Malachite. But I love the idea of two sweaters from stash.

So where does that leave Channel? I’m not 100% sure. I want it to either be a silvery heather grey, light camel, or a tweedy oatmeal. And I want the yarn less rustic than some of the others, more snuggly around my neck. So I’m exploring my nicely-plied merino options, for softness with stitch definition. I’m particularly curious about Shepherd’s Wool, and have ordered a ball for swatching. If you’ve knitted with it, I’d love to hear your thoughts about how it wears. And if you have any other recommendations for worsted-weight, soft but not gooey, heather/tweed neutrals and affordable, I’d love to hear it!

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This week in “mistakes Karen made”

This week in "mistakes Karen made"

If it looks to you like the top couple inches of this fabric (my beloved Channel cardigan) is wet — or in shadow maybe — I assure you it’s not. That dark stripe across the top is just a plain ol’ rookie mistake. When I ordered this yarn, the lovely Jocelyn Tunney of O-Wool wrote me a note saying that the fiber takes the Graphite dye a little unevenly, and emphasizing what the site says when you order it, which is that you should treat it like a hand-dyed yarn and alternate skeins. I did my first ball change at the top of the ribbing, where it wouldn’t matter if the color was slightly different. Then I knitted along happily with the next ball, not thinking about the matter until I had only a couple of yards left. So I knitted two rows with the new ball, then one row with the old ball, then back to the new ball. I mean, the skein didn’t look that different, right? What could go wrong? Then I sat it aside for two weeks. I was thrilled to have time to knit a repeat on Friday night and another on Saturday night. And when I spread it out to check it over, even in the low light, it was painfully evident that Jocelyn was right. So I have some frogging to do.

Oddly, this isn’t a thing I’ve run into very many times. Meg says she would have knitted the entire sweater with two skeins, alternating the whole way. So now I’m debating whether to rip all the way back to the ribbing or just halfway into the first section, far enough to alternate for a couple of inches. Meanwhile, I just keep thinking what Kay Gardiner would say at a moment like this: “It’s ok. I like to knit.” Especially this.

I’m on my way to Chicago today but I am working on the knitalong schedule and alternate pattern suggestions and yarn recommendations and lots more, and will have a post very soon with all of that. I know a lot of you are eager to cast on — and of course you can — but I want to have all my ducks in a row. So sit tight! It’ll be worth it.

Yarn is magic

Yarn is magic

It’s late Thursday night as I’m typing this, and I’m supposed to be putting together a big, juicy Elsewhere list for you, but I spent the majority of the day up to my bloodshot eyeballs in spreadsheets, filing my sales tax return, and my brain is DONE. So instead I’m showing you a pretty picture of my Channel Cardigan in progress. Ooooohhhh.

I swear there were about seven hours during the spreadsheet ordeal where I had my teeth clenched and forgot to exhale. But then before I left the studio, I went upstairs to where this beautiful floor is and pulled everything out of my bento bag and took this picture — and in the five minutes I was with the yarn (not even knitting it!) a bunch of the stress just slid right off me. Yarn is magic.

Have a beautiful weekend, lovely people. Tell me what you’re working on!

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p.s. That ridiculously great pouch up there will be in the shop as soon as I can get it shot and listed, along with its friends. Sorry to tease you! But I latched onto it the moment it arrived.

Best. Swatch. Ever.

Best. Swatch. Ever.

You all know I’ve had Channel on the brain (and the approved knitting list!) since trying it on back in March, but my fever escalated around the time of Squam. I was packing for that trip, knowing it would be cool nights and mornings, and was shocked to have nothing suitable: no sweatshirt and only super wooly sweaters that I could not bring myself to put into a suitcase in June. What I wanted and needed was my Channel cardigan — the one I’m planning to knit in this fantastic O-Wool Balance, which is an organic, washable, cotton-wool blend that knits up into a light, airy, not-too-warm fabric. I.e., the perfect all-seasons cardigan. I have two more trips this summer that all but require this sweater, except of course the sweater does not yet exist. But behold my swatch! The best swatch of all time.

I wanted to practice the charted stitch pattern, and particularly the English Rib portion, which is a little conflictingly described in the pattern. The chart includes the two ribbed sections and the chevrons in between, and I added five stitches of moss stitch on each end, since that’s what happens in the sweater. However, gauge for the sweater is actually given over moss stitch, not the charted stitches, so after knitting a few repeats of the chart, I switched to moss for a couple of inches, which gave me the necessary four vertical inches of moss to measure my gauge. The swatch has since been machine washed (it came out practically dry! damn, I love this yarn) and measured, and I appear to be spot on pattern gauge. And the fabric couldn’t be better for what I’m wanting. I had a blast knitting this, so I’m as eager as can be to cast on.

Of those two upcoming trips I really want this sweater for, one of them is next week. And though it’s not an opportunity to wear it, I hope to do a meaningful amount of knitting on it. I’m traveling with my entire family (in celebration of my parents’ 50th anniversary) to a retreat place somewhere in the mountains of NC, where I’m told reception is spotty, at best. I’ve got blog posts queued up for you, but:

IMPORTANT SHOP NOTE: I’ll be packing orders this weekend and will drop them at the PO Monday morning on our way out of town. The rest of the orders from Sunday through Friday will ship during a special session on Saturday the 26th. So if you’ve got something you know you need next week, get your order in today!

This is not a pretty picture

Sampling the Channel Cardigan

It’s grainy, it’s a little blurry, it had to be converted to black and white because the carpet and walls are just too horrifying for me to inflict on you, but I wanted to show you this picture anyway. It’s me at VKLive last Sunday, wearing the sample of Jared Flood’s Channel Cardigan. Talk about feeding an obsession — is it awesome or what?! I liked it before — thought it looked like a ton of fun to knit — but now that I’ve had it on, I can’t stop thinking about it. There is no question I’m knitting it (and probably before or concurrent with poor old Slade). The only question is what yarn. I want it to be something with outstanding stitch definition, obviously, but not quite as hot as the BT Shelter. I’d like to be able to wear it for most of the year, so I need some kind of wool-cotton blend or something. Not pure cotton, preferably a tweed or heather. If you have suggestions, I’m all ears!

Also, FYI, I got to spend a couple of hours knitting with the illustrious and adorable Ann Shayne (of Mason-Dixon Knitting) this week, and she posted a tiny video of me knitting Portuguese style. I don’t know how helpful it is, but for everyone who was left curious after my inadequate description of the process …

New at Fringe Supply Co: Bookhou!

In other news, there are some thrilling new things in the webshop today, which some of you will have seen at Stitches West and/or VKLive. Carrying Bookhou goods has been a goal for me since the launch of Fringe Supply Co. Maker Arounna Khounnoraj is sort of an idol of mine — I’m stunned at the amount of talent and taste and hard work in this one person. And her sewn goods are not only beautiful but imminently useful and attainably priced. So I’m thrilled to finally have her storage box and assorted pouches in store.

Also, by popular demand, the “high-fiber diet” design is now available as a letterpress print! The perfect companion to the Yarn Pyramid. I hope you love all of it!

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Happy Friday, everyone. Please do tell me what you’re working on this weekend!