This is the easiest DIY of all time. (No brain cells were killed in the making of this post.) Love this Elizabeth and James sweater? It won’t be available until Spring 2015, but you can knit yourself one in the meantime. All you need is Wool and the Gang’s Hole in One Sweater kit. The pattern is written for two strands of yarn held together, so there’s the opportunity for a marl effect. But if you like the white, just use two whites! And shorten up the cuffs a little bit. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, as they say.
p.s. Don’t forget: Tomorrow is WIP of the Week day for the #fringeandfriendsknitalong, so show us your cables! This week’s prize comes from Kelbourne Woolens, hint hint.
PREVIOUSLY in DIY: Vanessa Bruno turtleneck
Ever since Vanessa Jackman posted these photos on her blog, this Vanessa Bruno sweater has been getting a lot of attention on Pinterest and elsewhere. It’s totally killer. It’s also a case of another $400 half-synthetic sweater that’s easily replicated by any crafty knitter. If you look at Asos’ shots, where it’s worn with even more ease, you can see a few more of the details, especially the long ribbing at the cuffs. And apparently it has a split hem, although none of the photos really shows that. It’s a very simple sweater, the most distinctive feature of which is the raglans. And where have we seen almost identical raglans before? The totally amazing and highly coveted Sweatshirt Sweater pattern at the Purl Bee, which requires only the most minor of modifications to become the Vanessa Bruno. One: skip the kangaroo pocket. Two: knit longer ribbing at the cuffs. Three: keep knitting the neck until you’ve got a turtleneck instead of a crew.
The question is yarn. The Purl Bee sweater is written for worsted-weight yarn, and the Bruno looks more like an aran or chunky to me. So if you’re slightly more ambitious you could change the gauge. (Or just improvise it top-down.) But I think choosing a yarn with the same salt-and-pepperiness of the grey yarn used for the Bruno is more important than the gauge. It needs to have coloration along the lines of Joseph Galler’s Prime Alpaca in Mist Grey, but 100% alpaca seems too weighty for a big sweater like this. Anyone know the perfect yarn?
Photos © Vanessa Jackman, used with permission
J.Crew is pretty much hitting it out of the park right now with their winter accessories, especially the knitted goods. One of my favorites is this simple Chevron Hat. What I don’t like so much is the way the crown decreases interrupt the chevrons, or that it’s “viscose/nylon/lambswool/rabbit hair/cashmere.” (I’d love to know what the percentages are, but that adds up to “synthetic with a touch of animal fiber.”) Happily, those of us who knit can make our own. Kate Gagnon Osborn’s Opus Spicatum (free pattern) has a much more elegant decrease scheme. It’s designed for The Fibre Company’s Road to China yarn (65% Baby Alpaca, 15% Silk, 10% Camel, 10% Cashmere), and you could go with their Garnet and Cobalt to simulate J.Crew’s burgundy/navy version. To match the heather-grey and off-white version above, I’d suggest Quince and Co’s Lark (100% American wool) in Kumlien’s Gull and Frost.
ALSO: If you’re into J.Crew’s Zigzag Stripe Scarf, you might take a look at Jill Zielinski’s Empire State Cowl (free pattern) — just knit it as a tube scarf, with solid-colored ribbing on each end, rather than grafting it into a loop.
Granny squares have officially hit the Fashion Bigtime, friends. The legendary Comme des Garçons has put out a granny-square scarf, available in black/off-white and grey/off-white at La Garçonne. Of course, they don’t call it a granny-square scarf; it is a Square Crochet Stole (“crocheted … in alternating nested square pattern”). It’s granny cool, for sure, but if I ever drop $495 on a scarf, it won’t be 70% acrylic. Of course, anyone who can crochet a granny square could make themselves a 100% cashmere version for less than that — or a merino one that looks like a bargain by comparison.
My crochet skills are rusty, at best, but there’s no better learning or re-learning project for crochet than this ultra-basic form of the granny square. And it’s easy enough to seam a bunch of them into a long rectangle. But the striking thing about the Comme scarf is the diagonal of the pattern, and the trick to that is the half-squares (aka triangles) needed to fill out the edges. Friday night I sought out two good solid videos: how to crochet a granny square and how to crochet a half-granny square.* Then I sat down and made my first granny square in decades, and was reminded again of how much I love the motion of a crochet hook — truly addictive. So there may be some squares and half-squares in my future.
You could do this in any yarn and weight you like. Just make a square you like the looks of, measure it, then calculate or diagram how many you’d need — laid on a diagonal — to get the width and length you want. And from that, figure out how many triangles that leaves along the four edges. (Note that you’ll need four half-triangles — quarter-grannies? — for the four corners.) I’m guessing the CdG stole is worsted weight, each square about 5 or 6″ wide, and that they’re laid out four or five across and twelve or thirteen down. It lists a finished size of 25×77 inches, which is pretty deliciously voluminous.
For those with more advanced crochet skills, check out the pinwheel motif version being sold alongside the grannies.
Relatedly, ICYMI for this week is Things that make me want to crochet.
*Note that the first video uses the term “treble crochet” and the second uses “double crochet” — they are different names for the same stitch.
I got an interesting tweet last week from Belinda Boaden of the always wonderful True Brit Knits regarding last year’s DIY Chloé post. She had seen my Rowan roundup, containing that notedly Chloé-esque turtleneck and a link to the DIY, and pointed me to TBK’s pattern Pendleton (named for cyclist Victoria Pendleton), pictured above right. (On the left is the Chloé sweater, for anyone just tuning in.) When I did the original DIY Chloé post, it was all “mod this this way” or “mod that that way,” because there wasn’t a great pattern option that I could find at the time. Apart from the scale of the cables, the Rowan one, Wye, is nearly identical to the Chloé — all you need to do to make it more so is knit the lower extremes of the sweater in a different color than the rest. Pendleton has a slightly different, equally lovely, cable motif, and has the color change written into the pattern. But it’s also a slightly lighter option, being aran weight, which I know many of you would prefer, and no need to mod anything — just pick your colors and knit. Thanks so much, Belinda, for calling it to my attention!
People ask me constantly how I manage to blog every day. (Especially about knitting. In July.) You’ve wanted to know too, right — what’s the secret? Well as Tina Fey says in the slightly-better-than-mediocre-(and-that’s-all-we-hope-for-anymore) film Admission, “Pick up your pens.” I’m going to tell you. The secret is to be Open to the Universe. Also known as being a social media addict. Take Wednesday, for instance. I had promised there might be a new pattern on the blog this week, but alas, due to a confluence of freelance deadlines, impending houseguests, government paperwork and other circumstances both pleasant and not, the knits have not been photographed nor has the pattern (patterns — it also multiplied on me) been written. So what’s a blogger to do? Then in short succession the universe presented me with these things:
1) a tweet from Ysolda Teague announcing a new pattern for a slightly girlier-than-average Lopi sweater with waist shaping and scaled-down colorwork on the yoke, followed very shortly by
2) an Instagram from Sonia Ruyts of Stash Local singing the praises of the really very fabulous Boden fall catalog cover.
And voila, a DIY post was born:
Love that Boden fair isle sweater (above right) but want to knit it yourself? Ysolda’s Strokkur might be the perfect pattern. Knit a size with zero ease, or maybe even a little negative ease. Use a bold yellow instead of charcoal for the main color, obviously, but then the Boden sweater has four contrasting colors — black, white, red, and a tiny bit of turquoise — whereas Ysolda’s has two. So here’s what I would do: Knit the bottom grey zig-zag in red; all of the yellow in white; the large grey shapes in black; the main-color bits in our new main color, yellow; the tips of those main-color shapes in turquoise; and the upper zig-zag in black. For bright colors and a less-hot wool, try Plucky Knitter Primo Aran (if you can find it) or, again, the Anzula For Better or Worsted.
If you’re clever with colorwork, add a tiny bit around the cuffs and hem. And then maybe buy that cute Boden skirt to go with it.
Speaking of Stash Local, you can now buy Fringe Supply Co. totes and stitch markers there! If you’re near Corvallis OR, tell ’em Karen sent you.
I got an email from a reader asking if I could help her with her quest to knit a version of this sweater, designed by Correll Correll for Anthropologie. It’s a great summer sweater — slouchy, slightly open gauge, interesting texture, and that random colorwork. Y, I’ll call her, said she thinks she can figure out the colorwork but was having trouble finding a suitable pattern. I’ve had requests for similar things before, and honestly I’m surprised there isn’t a blank-canvas pattern — that I’ve seen — for a boxy, sleeveless top like this. But it would be pretty easy to do a little math and make it up. (Look at a few Pickles patterns, such as the Dressy Sweater, for the basic approach: Knit a tube from the hem to the underarms, divide your stitches in half for the front and back, working those sections back and forth to the desired armhole depth, then grafting it back together along the tops of the shoulders. Leave out the stripes, ribbing and sleeves.) Otherwise, you could easily adapt Elka Park by Heather Dixon, knitting it a little bit wider than the pattern calls for (going up a needle size would accomplish that and loosen the gauge), and changing the stitch pattern. I’d also make the armholes deeper.
It looks to me like the stitch pattern is a 4-row repeat: 2 rows of stockinette, then a garter ridge. But it starts at the hem with 3 garter ridges, which gives some ballast and prevents it from rolling. So after your cast-on, alternate knit rounds and purl rounds for a total of 6 rounds. Then switch to three knit rounds followed by a purl round (that’ll give you two rows of stockinette followed by a garter ridge); repeat. That’s as long as you’re working in the round. Once you’ve separated for the front and back, and are working those sections back and forth, to maintain that same stitch pattern you’d knit row 1, purl row 2 (that’s two rows of stockinette), then knit row 3, knit row 4 (one ridge of garter).
The colorwork is up to you!