Sunny little Sólbein cardigan (2019 FO-1)

I know, right? It’s so cute. This is my first finish of the year — my miniaturized version of the Sólbein Cardigan from the #fringeandfriendssteekalong. The palette was inspired by Mary Jane’s pre-steekalong remarks about the inspiration for this motif having been the idea of fractured daylight falling across the surface of the sweater, which made me want to do it in a sunny yellow combo. And you’ll recall I decided to knit it at worsted gauge and let it come out child-sized, in the hopes that it would fit one of my little nieces. (Details on how I scaled it down — including yarns, needles and gauge — are all here.)

The only changes I made were to leave off the colorwork at the hem and cuffs, and to do the button bands in garter stitch (on US6) instead of ribbing. I had used an incredibly soft merino for the middle yellow and felt it was not going to have enough heft as a ribbed button band. Garter has that added density, and I think in this case it also contributes to the little-girl looks of it. The bone buttons came from Fringe Supply Co., and the ribbon (a gift) came from Fancy Tiger Crafts.

Sunny little Sólbein cardigan

It’s not my very best work, if I’m honest. You can see my colorwork is a little bit bunchy, especially in the 3-color rows, and this was my first time sewing ribbon onto a button band — despite having sworn I would how many times? My whipstitching is, um, inelegant (although I kind of like that about it) and the act of lashing the ribbon onto the knitted fabric caused the bands to lengthen a bit. It’s all fine — it’s full of love! — and the imperfections just make it less precious. I’m definitely not worried about anyone wearing it and messing it up!

I just hope they can wear it. I opted not to do any math ahead of time and just let fate determine the outcome, and it came out smaller than I’d imagined. I was secretly hoping it would fit either the 11- or 8 year-old in the group and be handed down from there. But in the end, I’m concerned it may be a hair too small for the youngest, two 5-year-olds. After finishing, it clocks in at about a 24″ circumference at the chest, 11″ sleeves, and 15″ from shoulder to hem. Which is sort of a 4-5 range?

Time to send it off and see! With fingers firmly crossed.

Happy weekend, everyone—

IN UNRELATED SHOP NEWS: We’ve got the new MDK Field Guide No. 10: Downtown in the shop this morning, patterns by Isabell Kraemer, along with a fresh batch of Bury Me totes, the waxed plum Field Bag and lots more …

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Highlights and random winners


Fringe and Friends Steekalong highlights and random winners

Fringe and Friends Steekalong results and winners

While there are still people knitting — some of whom have started in on a next sweater — today marks the close of the official Fringe and Friends Steekalong coverage. But please do keep knitting! And I’ll keep tuning in to the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed, where there is so much splendor to behold.

In addition to an assortment of other beautiful sweaters and even a shawl or two, we’ve literally seen a Sólbein Cardigan in every color of the rainbow, plus all the neutrals, and one rainbow-hued take on the yoke, above, by @mettosaurus. Not to mention pockets, zippers, handspun — and a couple of reversals, converting Sólbein to a pullover, such as the beauty seen on @carolinefrett above in the great group shot from @wollenberlin.

I just have the finishing to do on my mini and can’t wait to show it to you — it’s gotten cuter and cuter with every step completed.

The FIVE WINNERS drawn at random from the qualifying entries are: @fletch1800 @knitterbree @thehavelockzoo @madknitter51 and @kbzelazny. Congratulations, you’ve each won a Field Bag in the color of your choice! Please email <contact@fringesupplyco.com> to claim your prize.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated or cheered participants along. It’s always such a joy join in with knitters stretching skills and sharing insights and making beautiful garments, and that’s never been more true than with all the steekers in this crowd. And thanks especially to Mary Jane Mucklestone for the amazing pattern and for joining in with so much great advice and cheerleading along the way!

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: How to knit a mini Solbein

How to knit a miniature (Sólbein) cardigan

How to knit a miniature (Sólbein) cardigan

After sharing the latest pic and steeking progress on my mini Sólbein Cardigan on Instagram over the weekend, I’m getting a lot of questions about how I’ve adapted this pattern for child-size, and the specifics of what’s going on. Since it seems like a number of people are considering casting on, I thought I should tell you two key things now instead of waiting until I’m all done with the knitting—

THE SIZE

First, I have made no adjustments to the pattern. It’s a perfect demonstration of how gauge matters: All I’m doing is knitting the pattern as written, following the instructions for the smallest size, but using smaller stitches. The pattern gauge is 3.5 stitches and 4.25 rows per inch on recommended US10.5 needles — aka bulky gauge. I’m knitting with heavy-worsted yarn (chiefly Kelbourne’s Germantown) on size US8 needles, and my blocked gauge is 4.25 stitches and 6.25 rows per inch. Smaller stitches add up to fewer inches, ergo the sweater is way smaller.

I did stop to check the math and make sure I didn’t need to redistribute the sleeve/body stitch counts at all before I separated them. Making sure to count the underarm sts, I divided the stitch counts from the pattern by my stitch gauge to see where it would put me, which turned out to be about 25-26″ chest circumference (once I factor in button bands) and just under 10″ upper sleeve. I then consulted this chart to see where that would put it in the size/age range, and I’m looking at a child size 6. To double-check (especially since some of those numbers and labels are a little odd to me) I also asked a friend to measure one of her daughter’s sweaters, and these measurements seemed fine. So I’ve stuck with the stitch counts from the pattern right through the sleeve separation, and all I need to do differently is knit the body and sleeves to size-appropriate lengths, rather than the lengths given in the pattern.

I’ve made the body 14.5″ long (the yoke came out to 6″, so 8.5″ for the body). I’ll make the sleeves 12″ long, and you can see I’m leaving out the lower colorwork, just knitting contrasting hem and cuffs.

THE STEEK

One thing I did not take into account when shrinking my stitch size is that the pattern contains only 2 sts for the steek — you sew down those two stitches and cut the running thread between them. At my reduced scale, that is a very small target. Sewing along those 2 sts before cutting between them left me with no room for picking up stitches for the button band. I’ll need to pick up into the center of the first knit stitch, rather than beside it, which will leave me with a half stitch of colorwork butting up against the button band. I think it will be fine, if not ideal. But if you’re planning to do this, I would highly recommend giving yourself a couple of extra stitches in the steek, so you have more room to work with.

One side effect of my tenseness when I slid this under the machine to secure that narrow little steek is that I forgot to keep an eye on the tail of my waste yarn. And yep, I managed to sew perfectly along about a two-inch length of it. It’ll be my little hidden secret (my humble spot) once it’s turned under and covered with a pretty ribbon, but ack! I think I might be the only person in the entire #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed who had any trouble with the steek! It was fun anyway, and somehow the sweater is even more darling now that it’s cut open.

The other question I’ve gotten is why did I secure and cut the steek before knitting sleeves. The answer is two-fold: 1) I couldn’t wait to do it! 2) If I screwed it up, I didn’t want to have wasted time knitting sleeves.

What else can I tell you at this stage?

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Variations on a stranded them

Variations on a stranded theme

@papille used three light neutrals that are very close in value and switched the positions of the medium and darkest shades, which gives more of a watercolor effect

A week from Monday, I’ll be announcing the randomly drawn winners of the Fringe and Friends Steekalong, but before we wrap up, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the impact that playing with color placement can have, as there are so many great examples of disparate Sólbein Cardigans on the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed.

As discussed in our pre-kal interview, Mary Jane’s inspiration for this sweater was the idea of sunbeams and refracted light through a window, so it’s designed to be knitted in three tonal shades of the same color to give the effect of sunlight flickering across the sweater. (Here’s a gorgeous shades-of-grey example.) It looks amazing knitted that way, and there are many beautiful examples in the feed, but I was hoping we’d also get to see what happens when you depart from that, as seen here.

@akisaacs went with higher contrast on the lightest and darkest and inverted the placement, making for a more dramatic yoke on her incredible coat-length Solbein
@haekelblumeberlin used two shades of purple on a grey ground, with the darker shade in the would-be lightest spot, creating almost a paint-splattered effect

The thing that surprised me most is what happens if you boost the contrast and knit light colors for the yoke on a much darker field, it looks like fireworks to me! And what I love about that is not only what a different look it gives the garment, but that it’s another form of light flashing across the shoulders.

@megswd placed light silvery greys on a dark brown sweater,
which looks like a burst of fireworks
@knitterbree’s light yoke on midnight ground with a pop of turquoise
enhances the fireworks effect, to me

For dozens more beautiful cardigans, check out the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed.

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Inspiring mods of the Steekalong

Queue Check — January 2019

Queue Check — January 2019

After knitting the body of this Carbeth Cardigan last month, I finally got to knit the yoke over just a few evenings at the end of last week, before finally casting on my kid-sized Sólbein for the #fringeandfriendssteekalong yesterday, on a sunny January Sunday.

The Sólbein is kid-sized by virtue of simply knitting the smallest size with worsted-weight yarn (details here) on size US8 needles, and it looks like it may be coming out even smaller than I anticipated. My plan is to finish the yoke chart, block and measure it, and see where the math puts me. I’ve been thinking it will go to whichever niece it winds up fitting, but it might actually be too small for the two smallest of them (they’re 5). I won’t know till I block it, which I expect to be able to do in the next couple of days, so the recipient is still TBD for now! But I’m loving how it’s knitting up.

The Carbeth fabric is so seductive — the black OUR Yarn bulky held together with Shibui Pebble — and every day that’s cool enough for a sweater, I find myself wishing for this one. My plan here is to knit the bands and collar before the sleeves, then see how it looks with a little bit fuller sleeve. And I think I might not do the I-cord buttonholes. For those of you who’ve knitted this and worn it awhile, how are those holding up — have they stretched out or anything? I may do vertical bands for it instead.

Both of these cardigans are relatively quick projects and I wish I could knit them sequentially, but instead it’s a race to see which will get done while there’s still hope of appropriate weather. And actually, it’s a three-legged race.

Meanwhile, no change in the status of the cowl-dickey-question-mark thing I also started last month, but I’m eager to figure it out. And then I’m still mulling what’s on the horizon. I have lots of thoughts and ideas about the sweaters I’m unable to wear and what to do about it, but not ready to put anything in writing just yet …

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: UFOs of 2018

Inspiring mods of the Steekalong

Inspiring mods of the Steekalong

While there aren’t people taking really major liberties with the Sólbein Cardigan (which 99% of the #fringeandfriendssteekalong participants are knitting), there are numerous smaller modifications happening that illustrate all of the freedoms and flexibilities that excite me so much about knitting, so I wanted to point you to some of them. These are the sorts of design detail tweaks you can consider for just about any sweater you might knit:

BOTTOM: Pullover. @heyjoanne9999 left out the steek stitches in front to convert Sólbein to a pullover, but is planning to steek some side slits at the hips.

MIDDLE LEFT: Short rows. Several knitters have added short rows between the neckband and start of the colorwork, so the back neck will sit higher. @caitmariejohnson shared her notes on how she did it (swipe to the third image in the linked post) as did @knitterbree.

TOP: Vertical button band. For her second Sólbein already completed, @ivyknitsfast (no joke) knitted vertical 1×1 rib button bands and seamed them on. If you’ve ever wondered what a difference that makes, just look.

MIDDLE RIGHT: I-cord edging. @ceciliainstafford opted for I-cord edging all the way around, which has given it a vintage sweater-jacket look.

It’s hard to believe we’re only halfway through the official timeframe, given how many finished sweaters there are. But again, the fact that so many people have completed sweaters in under three weeks tells you there’s still plenty of time to join in! And remember, you don’t have to be finished to be eligible for prizes. The details on all that are in the kick-off post.

I’m casting on this weekend! Happy Friday, everyone—

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Hot tips and tricks

Hot tips and tricks from the Steekalong (and beyond)

Hot tips and tricks from the Steekalong (and beyond)

The speed at which Sólbein Cardigans are flying off the knitting needles in the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed is truly jaw-dropping. For those who are half done (or already on a second one!), these tips and tricks may come too late! But for anyone who (like me) has yet to cast on, I hope they’ll prove helpful. And they apply to more than just Sólbein:

1. Floats out. Marlene @mnberghout posted about her floats being too tight and how she intended to solve it on a second go, which is one of my favorite tricks I’ve never tried! Let’s see if I can describe this any better than I drew it: Hold your knitting exactly the opposite of how you usually hold in-the-round work. So with it wrong side (float side) out instead of right side out. And with the needle tips away from you instead of toward you, so you’re looking at the right side of the work but in the rear inside of the tube of knitting. Does that make sense? Held that way, your floats have to reach around the longer outer curve of the work, rather than across the shorter inside stretch. And if you still prefer to work with it held the regular way, right side out, try keeping your stitches spread to their natural width on the right needle, which makes it much harder to create a too-short float in the first place.

2. Block that yoke. Several people have expressed concern about their gauge while knitting their yoke, and/or opted not to do a gauge swatch and just cast on. In either case (or if you just want to make sure your colorwork tension is good before proceeding), why not stop and block your yoke? Just put the stitches on waste yarn and block the work like you would a finished object. Once it’s dry, you can measure your real-time stitch and row count and make sure you’re on track for your intended size.

3. Steek first, sleeve later. Every time I see a pic of a finished body, pre-sleeves, I have an overwhelming urge to cut that steek! If you feel the same way, there’s no reason not to go ahead and do that first. Although if you’re one who doesn’t love sleeves, the anticipation or prize of getting to cut the steek when you’ve done them might help?

I also have one gentle reminder or request to make, and this is truly universal. It’s natural to want to slide your pattern into your knitting photos, and a common practice. Please remember that publishing a photo with visible instructions or charts is the equivalent of giving away the designer’s work, and be cognizant of that when taking photos.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the feed and the incredible array of cardigans coming together on the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed, you really should go look.

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Meet Steekalong insta-panelist No.1: Kristine Vejar