There’s always something surprising to me whenever I look back through what I’ve made in a given year. This year it’s the fact that I made things! For some reason, I don’t feel like I did, and it may be because this is the first year I knitted more for others than for myself. I also sewed more than I knitted (more on that tomorrow), which is easy to do — especially when you’re as simple a sewer as me — but it turns out I did, in fact, knit this year. And I even crocheted.
And then there are the two slight disappointments. The cable hat for Bob is a thing of beauty but the yarn has no recovery whatsoever and so isn’t well suited to this particular task. He gave it back to me and I’ve been wearing it on the trail, and need to knit him another one in a more elastic yarn. Similarly, the summer hat I crocheted for myself has sort of … wilted. I need to try it again at the nice tight gauge the pattern calls for.
All in all, a pretty successful knitting year — especially given how much those girls loved their gifts.
Please note that each of these things is linked to the original blog post about it where you can find further photos, links and details on patterns, yarn, modifications and so on — please click through to find out more! And if I left anything out, feel free to ask.
I may not be the most festive person in the world, but what I do love about this stretch around the holidays is the way the world slows down while we collectively shift our focus for a minute (a day, a week), away from the daily grind and onto the people and places we cherish. Whether you’re crowd-averse like me or a confirmed extrovert, have big news to celebrate or are feeling the presence of a newly empty chair at your dinner table — or whatever your particular circumstances may be — I hope you find peace and joy this week. I’m spending it with my sister and her family and will be back here later in the week with some news and some recapping, so meet me here then! But if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands in the meantime, here are some links to keep you learning, crying, laughing or swooning—
— First, speaking of family and complexities and all that — I want to say thank-you to everyone who has shared such incredibly powerful and personal stories in response to my post about Matilda’s cardigan. It turned into a conversation about loss and hope and grief and love and … life, and knitting’s place in that. And I’m grateful for it.
I’ll be honest and tell you I debated whether to post here about this precious little cardigan, but the point of this blog for me has always been a shared connection with you: fellow knitters of the world who’ve stumbled in here, being people who understand what a mysteriously powerful thing it is to knit, and especially to knit for others. We often describe it as a hug, but what this tiny sweater has really driven home for me is that to knit is to form bonds — some of them beyond description.
This sweater is for my great-niece, Matilda, who lived only a few days. Before she was born, I had envisioned a future hand-me-down. I wanted to knit a Gramps cardigan (because the only thing better than a shawl-collar cardigan is a miniature shawl-collar cardigan) and had picked out this sweet, soft green yarn for it.* As with E’s sweater, I would have made it 6-12 mos size so she’d have time to grow into and out of it before it hopefully got passed on to another baby. When she died, I still very much wanted to knit it and didn’t entirely understand why, but thankfully her mother still wanted it and so I got to have this unexpectedly profound experience. Time spent knitting it these past couple of weeks has been time bonding with her in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I didn’t get to meet her, and she became so real to me as this sweater took shape. And once it became a keepsake, the shape of it changed — I wanted it to be very specific to her. Newborn sized and a pure expression of love.
It’s a gift I hope will convey feelings I don’t have any other way to express.
I’m making this post a Q for You because what I would love in response to this is for you to tell me about the strongest bonds you’ve formed through knitting — with a family member, friend or stranger; someone you’ve knitted for or with, or who has knitted for you? If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear it.
*The yarn is Bummull in “grass green,” which is a misnomer — it’s more of a dusty mint color, so pretty — and I’ve knitted the smallest size of Gramps on US5 needles with this yarn to get it to be newborn sized. (It’s less than one ball.) I added the garter ridges above the ribbing and did a garter-stitch button band minus the shawl collar, but otherwise it’s true to the pattern.
Now me, I love cables and I love a chart. I’m a visual person and I also think cable knitting is a blast, so my idea of a dream pattern is a simple cable chart I can glance at and memorize, then settle in with my yarn and needles and cable away to my heart’s content, barely if ever consulting the pattern. That means my least favorite thing is a written pattern full of row after row of instructions to which I have to pay close attention and try to keep my place. HOWEVER, I know (and respect!) that the opposite is true for some of you — those who like a pattern written, not charted, and the fewer cables the better. But who doesn’t love the look of them, right? So this one is for the cable- and chart-averse: Two written patterns — both of them free, no less — for cable-looking designs without a single cable cross anywhere in the text.
BOTTOM: Neighborhood Holiday Hat by Amber Platzer Corcoran likewise uses only increases and decreases but gives the look of sinuous traveling cables
UNRELATED SALE NEWS: Today is my birthday and I’m giving you a one-day discount! Everything under Tools & Supplies at fringesupplyco.com — needles and sets, pouches, OUR Yarn, scissors, balm and more — is 15% off today when you use the code TOOLTIME at checkout. (Good only on orders placed December 17, 2019 CST, for in-stock items. Not retroactive, not redeemable for cash.)
I took a break from my delightful green cardigan WIP to work on the baby sweaters — one of which I finished and the other of which is nigh — so it’s only grown about 5 inches since last you saw it. It would be farther along, but I took it on an 8-hour road trip on Thanksgiving completely forgetting that the WIP in my bag had no yarn attached and no spare skeins along for the ride. Having since wound more yarn and placed it in the bag where it belongs, I’m hoping to race through this gem between now and year’s end!
But as that year-end approaches, I took stock of what else was on the WIP shelf. The first is the unspecified cowl-dickie object I had started last winter before diverting some of the Luft yarn into the garter kerchief that is now never separated from my neck. Seriously, I love that thing more than life itself. So the question remains what to do with this dickie that wasn’t quite doing it for me.
Meanwhile, I also discovered the Carbeth Cardigan I had abandoned back in the spring when it wasn’t going to be done in time to wear. I was shocked to find it was as far along as it is — and also that I had picked up the button-band stitches while clearly having not blocked the body. That’s unheard of for me, so I’m not sure how that happened. But I am coming to terms with the fact that this rediscovered WIP leaves me cold, as it were. I should be thrilled to find a nearly done black cardigan, since that is what I wish for every single morning. But nope. It’s a classic case of “if I can stand to not be knitting it, it must not be right.” And between these two things, I’ve realized that I’ve always known what my heart wants in both cases, which is a cardigan in the black Luft yarn. So I’m just going to sit with that thought while I concentrate on the green cardigan. If I’m diligent enough, I’ll be wearing it by New Year’s Eve.
Although it’s on my list, I have yet to see “Knives Out,” but as you may have heard there’s A Sweater — and the internet has gone mad for it. I don’t just mean the knitters. If you google “knives out sweater” you will see a remarkable number of search results for a big-screen sweater. And given how many inquiries I’ve gotten about fisherman sweaters generally since the Rambler satchel listing went up, it seemed like a good time to address this perennially pressing topic. (You know I am always happy to talk about fisherman sweaters!) Actually, based on the trailer, it appears there are a whole lot of cable sweaters in that movie, but let’s talk about this ivory fisherman on actor Chris Evans, above. With apologies to Jamie Lee Curtis.
To knit an equivalent, your best bet is probably Alice Starmore’s famous Na Craga* — just give it a ribbed crewneck to hew closer to the movie sweater, instead of the decorative funnel neck. And for yarn I’m going to suggest Scout in natural from my friends at Kelbourne Woolens because it’s the classic wool yarn I’m most eager to knit with right now! You could also try the free pattern from Drops called 59-6, same neckband note. And a great raglan alternative would be Strandhus by Veta Romanenkova, which includes both men’s and women’s options.
For those wondering about my fisherman sweater in the Rambler photo(s) (and the Porter before it), it’s a 10-year-old LL Bean. My all-time favorite fisherman sweater pattern is the vintage Bernat 536-145, which I knitted a couple years ago. It’s out of print but the 1967 booklet it’s in, The Bernat Book of Irish Knits, is not hard to come by if you search the Internet, and is a treasure trove of patterns. But even closer to the LL Bean one is the free Honeycomb Aran pattern by Patons.
Whatever you do, if you should knit yourself a glorious, richly cabled sweater, I hope that you will love it and wear it to tatters, and that every hard-earned worn spot will speak to that love and respect and longevity. As opposed to the fake wear-and-tear imposed on the movie sweater by costume designer Jenny Eagan (who can’t even remember who made it?!), who did it to convey that the spoiled-brat character, Ransom, “didn’t take care of it … the holes and the tatter gave him a touch of that disrespect. It was a disrespect to the family, a disrespect to the name, a disrespect to his clothes.” I don’t think the knitters in the audience will read it as anything other than that Ransom loved his sweater as much as the Internet does.
Before I get to the links list, today is the launch of our annual Limited Edition “Holiday Hewett” Field Bag! This year’s is a reprise of our December 2016 print (which was grey on grey), this time in toffee-colored ink on natural canvas, and it is a beauty! It will be available at 9am CT [UPDATE: It’s now live!], and I repeat: It is a Limited Edition! These sell out every year so if you want one, please don’t hesitate.