My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

I was trying to figure out how this could be the first garment I’ve made this year, when it’s mid-April already, and then I remembered: blue Bellows. Anyway, here I am crossing the first thing off my Spring Make List, item 3b. This was a bit of a trial run with me and the Linden Sweatshirt pattern, and I promise it’s much less sad and droopy looking on me than it is on the dress form. I’m also still pretty new at sewing knits, and this fabric posed an extra challenge, so I went into the whole thing with a decidedly que sera attitude. It was very quick to make and I’ll get plenty of use out of it, but it’s not my best work.

The fabric is a super gushy, thick pile terry, with a little bit of a surface pattern to it. So there was no chance of finding matching ribbing, but I wasn’t sure how well it would work to use itself either. I also had a pretty small piece of it, all of which is why I opted to use it for view B of the pattern, which has a folded hem at the waist and short sleeves, and only the neckband to worry about, ribbing-wise. My other concern was the neckline itself. Jen Beeman and I have become great friends over the past few years, and agree on just about everything, but necklines are not one of them! I can’t stand a gaping neckhole, and Jen can’t stand anything up around her neck, so I expected that this neck would be larger than I would have drafted it myself. Rather than worrying about it (since I wasn’t sure this was even going to work) I opted to trace off the pattern as is, sew it up, and see how much I might want to adjust the neck on the next one. Sure enough, when I sewed the front, back and sleeves together — this is a straight size 8 — the neck was on the big side for me, but fortunately I had just enough fabric to cut a wider neckband and make up for some of that.

My first Linden sweatshirt (2018 FO-11)

Attaching the band was a job, thanks to the fabric. There was absolutely no chance I was going to get three layers of this fluff under the foot of my serger, so I basted it together on my regular machine — then unpicked the parts where the layers shifted and redid it, congratulating myself that I hadn’t tried that on the serger. Sewing the three layers together caused the top one to fold back on itself at the stitching line. So next I carefully zigzagged all three layers of the seam allowance together, again on my regular machine, and by then they were compressed enough that I could get the whole thing under the serger and finish the edge properly. I still have one spot where the outer layer wasn’t quite caught enough, right at the top of the raglan seen in the photo, and then I did a shoddy job topstitching it. But these are the sorts of things that the average person who sees it on me will never notice!

Then came the hemming. Even with the presser foot pressure off and using a long stitch, sewing the two layers together caused the whole thing to splay a bit, so it’s a little bell-shaped, which is fine with me, honestly. (I added two inches to the length when cutting it, and sewed a wider hem than called for.) But I didn’t want the same splaying to happen at the sleeves, so I just serged the edges and will wear them rolled.

This top has a lot in common with the wool knit version made from Jen’s other pattern — my whole modified Hemlock tee thing. But I’ll try to get pics of me wearing them both for comparison. Apart from one being boiled wool and one cotton jersey, meaning they’re useful at different times of the year, it’s a good demonstration of how much better I look in a raglan than drop-shouldered garment.

Having now sewn this wonderfully quick and simple pattern (just like everyone always told me), I’m excited to make my proper heather grey sweatshirt version.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: ScandinAndean earflap hat

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ScandinAndean earflap hat (2018 FO-10)

ScandinAndean earflap hat

The last of the four February hats was the one I was the most nervous about: the earflap hat for my 10-year-old niece. In addition to being the one where the fit could go really wrong — there being no ribbing to simply hug the head, and que sera from there up — I was making up the pattern and adding colorwork into the mix. So many opportunities for it to go wrong! Plus with my sister’s Første having taken two weeks to knit, I had two days to get this one done and blocked. No room for error. Thankfully, it worked out beautifully!

I was initially planning to use Purl Soho’s Top Down Ear Flap Hat pattern but was concerned it would be too thin, not warm enough — even with the little bit of stranded colorwork I planned to add — plus it would have taken longer at that gauge. So I decided to improvise a version of it at worsted gauge. A good yellow (as had been requested) is not super easy to come by, plus my niece is very crafty and I’ve passed on my love of yarn to her, so I decided I’d hit up my sweet friend Brooke of Sincere Sheep when I got to Stitches West, knowing she has a good naturally-dyed yellow in her palette, and I’ve been wanting to knit with her U.S. Cormo Worsted. Armed with the perfect skein, I swatched and measured and calculated. I’d be working at a gauge of 4.75 sts and 7 rows per inch, with a target size of 20″ circumference (92 sts) and 8″ depth (56 rounds).

At that point, there was nothing to do but knit — and hope it worked out. Rather than doing the top the way the Purl pattern has it, I split the crown stitches into 6 sections and increased every row thrice, then every-other row until I had 92 sts. (A total of 24 rounds for the crown.) On the first work-even round, I started the lice stitch — using leftover yarn from her mother’s cable hat — spacing them every fourth stitch (staggered) every third round. I wound up doing 9 stranded rounds, stopping a few rows shy of my intended depth. Then I took a good hard look at the stitch counts and ratios from the Purl pattern to determine how to divide up my sts for the ear flaps, which worked out to 20 sts for the back, 22 for each flap, and 28 for the front. Then I followed the decrease logic in the pattern, decreasing down to 3 sts instead of 4; worked 56 rows of I-cord; and did the tassels as per the pattern. And voilà: adorable.

I love how the ivory lice stitch breaks up the semi-solidness of the hand-dyed yarn, and totally love this yarn. As I was knitting the colorwork, I was feeling like Is it weird I’m using this Scandinavian lice stitch pattern on an Andean-inspired hat?, but I decided to just call it ScandinAndean and embrace how cute it is. Mashups for the win!

ScandinAndean earflap hat

So I’m very happy with how the four of them worked out: My sister and brother-in-law both got cable hats with a very similar motif played out a bit differently, at different scale. And the kids both wound up with earflap hats — my nephew’s squishy helmet and this darling cap for my niece. It warms my heart to know the four Floridians are somewhere in the Colorado Rockies right now, feeling toasty in their handknit hats.

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Log Cabin Mitts No.6

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A hat to rival Gentian (2018 FO-8)

A hat to rival Gentian

I’m over here combing through my giant stack of Logalong prize contenders — tearing my hair out over how thrillingly hard you’ve made it! — and hope to have it all sorted, settled and written up in the next day or two. Meanwhile, an update on my February hats project: The latter two of the four are currently wending their way toward Florida, and not a moment too soon.

You guys, this beanie took me two weeks to knit. And I’m not talking about two weeks where I didn’t have much time for it and so it got scant attention. I’m talking about two weeks that included large amounts of stress knitting, two cross-country flights, seven hours in a surgical waiting room, etc etc etc. I’m talking about two intense weeks of knitting. A hat!

My plan had been quite simple: All I needed to do was knit one hat a week. Piece of cake, right? For the final two, I had it all mapped out. I’d knit the ribbing on my sister’s Første before boarding my flight to Stitches West, so I could sit down on the plane, pull out my cable chart, and focus on nothing but it for the full length of the flight. (I’ve knitted worsted-weight cable hats before; I know the lay of the land!) Then I’d get yarn for my niece’s hat at the show, and knit hers on my flight home. Worst case scenario, I might still have some crown shaping or tassels to do, between the two of them, and then they’d be on their merry way.

Well. I started the fisherman’s-rib brim a few nights before my flight, and knitted about an inch of the 4.5 to be done. A little more progress the next night. And the one after that. I boarded the plane thinking I was surely just a few rows shy of the chart — I could whip them out before we were even in the air. Mm, no. We were probably somewhere over the Grand Canyon by the time I got to start the chart, and when they said we were beginning our descent into Oakland, I was the one bellowing “Noooooo …” from aisle 12. I’d only managed to knit about 10 rounds.

Long story short: It eventually dawned on me that this hat is as much knitting as a sweater body. In addition to the 46-round brim (that alone being as much or more than the usual number of rounds for an entire worsted-weight hat), the body of the hat is 144 stitches — that’s a sweater, in my world — and the hat totals 101 rounds of knitting. And let’s not forget the knitting is fisherman’s rib followed by densely packed cables. Not to mention chainette yarn that requires you to be really deliberate about where you’re sticking your needle. Of course it took two weeks!

But hear me when I say that it was worth every minute it took. This thing is MAGNIFICENT, and especially in this luscious yarn. I wish you could paw it. I might not have savored the knitting the way I did with Gentian, but the finished result is at least as thrilling. A hat to marvel at and beam over, and I’m so happy it’s going to my sweet sister. I just hope it fits.

Tell you how my niece’s hat turned out once she’s seen it. ;)

Første pattern by Jessica Gore in Woolfolk Far / Like it at Ravelry

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Black and bluish mitts

Ebony and ivory (2018 FO-4)

Ebony and ivory (2018 FO-4)

I know it seems like I’m just knitting Log Cabin Mitts here, but that’s not how it feels to me. There’s something primordial about it. I’m having a reaction. Succumbing to an addiction. Scratching some itch that I don’t quite understand and am enjoying more than I can describe. I mean, the knitting is really fun, and the finished mitts are super cool and useful and feel good on my hands, so on that level they’re an obvious delight. There’s also something almost subversive about it, since I add onto them in life’s interstices — knitting a patch in a stolen moment here and there. But more deeply, they’ve stirred the old graphic designer and art director in me. Plotting out a succession of compositions and color combinations (and photos thereof) is feeding my creative self in a way I haven’t felt in awhile. And when I’m not knitting them, I have intense withdrawal. I literally dream about them, and my hands yearn for them when I’m doing other things. I can’t think of a parallel experience.

With the multiples — which show no sign of letting up anytime soon — I suspect I may have embarked on an epic art project of some sort, the shape of which hasn’t fully revealed itself yet … if there is one. (I’m imagining my obituary: Elderly woman found dead in her sparsely furnished home, next to boxes containing hundreds of pairs of fingerless gloves …) For now, I’m content to just keep making them, as often as possible! Exploring the possibilities presented by my Porter Bin of odds and ends, which I’ll keep dipping into for as long as doing so feels this satisfying.

This pair — number three to reach completion — is the most graphic one yet, and I adore them. The undyed wool is Tolt’s Snoqualmie Valley Yarn and the off-black is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Cast Iron. (Here’s this pair on Ravelry if you’re inclined to put a like on it!) And I’ll tell you about that toffee-colored one in progress, soon …

Of course, it’s also really fun seeing so many of these showing up in the #fringeandfriendslogalong and #logcabinmitts feeds, as well as on Ravelry. Have you cast on yet?

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Mitts: Glorious grey, the originals, and the free Log Cabin Mitts pattern

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The case of the unfinished cardigan

The case of the unfinished cardigan

I keep thinking I’m right on the brink of being able to do an FO post about my blue Bellows sweater, but instead today I’m giving you the UFO version. Reader, I shelved it.

This is a classic case of “so near, and yet so far.” The sleeves and body were finished two weeks ago. I got more yarn for the collar, calculated my mods, then labored over that for a few nights last week, wrestling this blue wool octopus in my lap. This weekend was one of those rare cases where I actually had a couple of hours each on Saturday and Sunday that I could choose to spend knitting or sewing. Saturday, I dutifully finished up the collar. Sunday, I started setting in the sleeves. And as I was doing it, I went from thinking about how many other things I should be doing with that time (namely, the hats), to how many other things I wanted to be doing right then (uh, making myself a new pair of pants), to how absolutely devoid I am of any notion of what to wear this with. I’ve been saying all along that I imagined it would mostly get worn with leggings and slippers on the couch on bitter cold nights, and that’s all well and good. But I’m having to face the actual, stark reality that, other than couchwear, nothing. Blank. Nada single outfit in mind.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s a killer sweater. It’s both bigger and bulkier than my first Bellows. I love my mods, and it seems like it will fit exactly as I intended. It’s just a surprisingly odd shade of blue. Beautiful, but odd. In my head, it’s the same light blue of the sample sweater. But in reality, it has green and purple undertones that make it weirdly hard to pair with anything else in my closet. It would be ok with ultra-faded denim … if I had any. With the dark denim I actually own, it seems kind of dour. (At least right now; that combo might seem fine next fall. Fingers crossed.) And it’s somehow just slightly off with everything else.

Given that the window is just about closed on it for this year anyway — I mean, there might be another day or two before spring officially arrives — I started genuinely resenting the precious time I was spending on it. So I stopped and assessed. The sleeves are set in and look fantastic. Still to do are seaming the sleeves and the sides, sewing down the pocket linings, giving it another full-sweater blocking to settle the collar and seams, weaving in the ends, and sewing on buttons. And at that point, I said to myself, “Self, put it away.” You can finish it and figure it out next year.

This is not like me — I live to cross things off of lists. Having an open item like this is enough to keep me awake at night for the next eight months. But I feel good about this decision. I’m putting this guy and the purple lopi sweater (still awaiting its refashion) into the closet, folded neatly and out of the way. And I’ve made a note on my calendar in October to pull them out and get them ready for the return of the cold weather. I can imagine how excited I’ll be to have two near-sweaters waiting for me then, like a gift.

Bellows pattern by Michele Wang in limited-edition yarn from Harrisville Designsall Bellows posts

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PREVIOUSLY in Projects: The February hats project

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Logalong FO 1 : My fingerless mitts

Logalong FO 1 : My fingerless mitts

This goofy Fringe and Friends Knitalong tradition of my interviewing myself about my finished project — in keeping with my interviews of the rest of the panel — feels even goofier this time around, since I’m going first! And yet, here goes:

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At kickoff for the Log Cabin Make-along, you noted that you’d chosen a small project for yourself, fingerless mitts, to keep your first-ever Log Cabin project manageable. Now that they’re done, how do you feel about that decision?

I’m very pleased with myself for making that call, and have been having a blast with this little mitts project. What got me hooked on this idea was the construction challenge — exploring the various ways I could imagine of joining a square into a fingerless glove with a gusset, with the hope of finding a solution that was creative and polished and in keeping with the methodologies of log cabin knitting, all at the same time. And which would also be describable for others. (What I might have done were it just me could be different from what I ultimately did, which could be put into pattern form.) So I got to learn and enjoy the basics of log cabin knitting, while also solving this really fun construction puzzle.

I wanted a proper thumb gusset, not just a tube with a slot for the thumb (like these and these). And I wanted the right and left mitts — the log cabin patterning of them — to be mirror images of each other, which requires that they be worked differently. So in the end, it’s two book-matched squares followed by the fun of joining them into the round and sculpting the thumb gusset, which is done in a way that I’ve never seen before (although who knows) and am really proud of.

So you’re loving the process, but how do you feel about the finished object of them?

I am beyond in love with them. In fact, as I told Ann and Kay this weekend, they’re so pleasing to me on so many levels that it feels like they might be the only truly clever thing I’ve ever done in my life. Except I can’t really take much credit — unplanned bits of brilliance simply revealed themselves when I molded the first one into a tube. The top and bottom strips form extremely tidy cuffs, and the long vertical patch down the palm allows some stretch, like ribbing, so it hugs the hand really nicely. I do take credit for the sculpting of the gusset! The geometry of it all really lights me up, and the log cabin essence of them makes them unique and intriguing among all the hundreds of mitt patterns I’ve ever seen and loved. They are SO fun to make. Plus they lend themselves to so much creativity and variation as far as mapping out color and placement! They’ve given me that old “knitting is MAGIC” jolt. Not a bad way to start off a new year.

You were a little torn over yarn, wanting to emulate a textile you love on the one hand and wanting to knit from stash on the other hand. (Not literally, ha! Although that’s a thought …) How did it shake out?

I needed to knit more than one version so I had them to experiment with as far as the joinery and thumb construction. After finishing up the original one from stash yarns — which was the crudest of the rough construction attempts — I decided I really needed to see how it would work with marls, for less contrast. I already had natural Shelter in my stash, so I bought a skein each of the black and grey Shelter marls, and used those for the next iteration. Then being more torn than ever, I put a pic on Instagram and the marl version was overwhelmingly the crowd pleaser. Given that I’m planning to publish the pattern, I also thought it would be good to have the sample be in a specific, available yarn, so I went with the Shelter trio.

There will be lots more of these knitted from my random stash, for sure. I want monochrome ones, sequence textures, flashes of color … all the variations. These are an absolutely fantastic project for odds and ends.

Logalong FO 1 : My fingerless mitts

There are sort of two philosophies or camps in the #fringeandfriendslogalong community — those who are hell-bent on keeping stitches live (binding off and picking up as little as possible) and those who savor the bind-offs. Which do you fall into?

While I totally get the impetus and would love to try something free-form and live-stitch at some point (I’m sure it’s faster), I am definitely Team Bind-off-pick-up. I really like the little shadow line you get in the work, the way it emphasizes the geometry of it all. It adds an architectural character that I really really love. But what I never imagined was how you get that sense of satisfaction that comes with binding off any project — over and over and over. I think that’s a big part of what makes log cabin knitting feel so satisfying to me. The tidiness and that “done” feeling, with each completed patch. It feeds my OCD.

Plus picking up stitches is such an important skill in knitting, so the more practice the better, right?

You originally had a bigger, more complex idea in mind and said you might tackle it after the mitts. Is that next?

First I want to knit another dozen pairs of these, lol. And I’m so into all of the boxy sweaters happening on the hashtag, and tempted to do something along those lines. So I don’t know if the cardigan/cocoon/kimono idea will come to fruition or not. Only time will tell! But no matter what, there’s a lot more log cabin in my future. I’m truly grateful to Ann and Kay for recruiting me into the cult.

And about the mitts pattern: When?

As soon as I can finish getting it written, edited and laid out! I’ll be moving on it as fast as possible, because I’m so eager to see what others will do with it. If anyone wants to test knit in the nearer term, let me know!

Pattern: Coming soon [UPDATE: Here’s the free Log Cabin Mitts pattern!]
Yarn: Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed in Fossil, Newsprint and Narwhal
Pictured with: Vanilla cardigan

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To see how everyone else is faring, check out the #fringeandfriendslogalong feed.

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PREVIOUSLY in Log Cabin Make-along: Insights and inspiration from the feed

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