How about a mini sleeveless turtleneck knitalong?

How about a mini sleeveless turtleneck knitalong?

Dear friends, I know you feel I’ve teased you with promises to publish the pattern for this sweater (see v1 and v2) over the last couple of years, and it was never my intention to withhold it from you. Look, Kathy even shot these photos for me a year and a half ago! When I was knitting the two of them, I kept what I believed to be very detailed notes and diagrams for this very basic pattern. But when I finally got time to pull out those notes with the intention of writing it up, ages later, it turned out to be, mmm, lacking. I have my work cut out for me getting it deciphered and written, and then there’s tech editing and laying out the pattern and all the other stuff that comes with … and I just don’t have the bandwidth!

But in the meantime, I had a thought. I know a lot of you really want to have a better understanding of how to manipulate patterns — and I want you to have that, too! — and this one, being so broad strokes and bare bones and sleeveless, is a great opportunity to experiment with it. So here’s what I’m proposing. On Monday May 1st, I will publish this in the simplest possible form: a chart and some footnotes. Kinda like a Japanese pattern only minus the inscrutable annotations. I’m calling it Sloper — the name sewers use for a basic pattern/template with no seam allowances that you can manipulate as you wish. I’ll spend a few blog days, I imagine, walking you through how simple it is to make key changes — to widen it, lengthen it, add waist shaping, tinker with the armholes and neckhole and the finishing details, make it a crewneck instead of a turtle. And then we’ll do it as a mini-knitalong! (Hashtag #sloperKAL) That way everyone can see what changes everyone else is making to suit their size and shape, and we can all learn from each other.

This is a fun one to play with, especially since it’s multiple strands held together, and a total blank canvas begging to be messed with. You can play around with marls, colorwork, stripes, whatever comes to mind, if you want. And this is such a quick and simple knit, it’s great for a spring quickie — and your finished garment will prove useful in the transitional weather and air-conditioned offices, etc. I’m willing to bet you’ll make more than one!

What do you think — are you in?

To get the wheels turning in your mind, and so you can do some advance planning: The gauge for the pattern is 2.5 sts and 3.75 rows per inch (aka 10 sts and 15 rows over 4″). You can use any yarn and needle combo that will give you that gauge, measured after blocking. The black sample is knitted in Quince and Co Lark (in Sabine) held triple on US11 / 8mm needles, and weighs 411g, so just over 8 skeins. (The flax one is discontinued yarn, also worsted held triple.) The sample size is 38″, but again, the point will be to show you how to adapt that to whatever size you want!

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PREVIOUSLY in Knitalongs: Top-Down Knitalong

Queue Check — March 2017: A whole new queue

Queue Check — March 2017: A whole new queue

Queue Check — March 2017: A whole new queue

Here I am at a pivotal moment! My you-know-what cardigan is done, and the shape of my sweater collection changed drastically this month, leaving me with effectively nothing on the needles and a whole new knitting horizon to consider. The next thing I cast on actually has to be my hat pattern for my Squam class in June, so that’s likely going on the big trip with me. But then, as previously noted, I’ll be picking two sweaters to cast on — one from the mindless column of my list and one from the challenging column. As it happens, I have a nice long list to pick from! But the top two are above:

MINDLESS: The least exciting sweater in my sketch pile is the one I need the most. I’ve been saying for as long as I’ve had this blog that I need a good summer cardigan, and Bellows had stepped into that role the last two years. Now that it’s gone to live with my mom, I have to immediately fill the summer-cardigan gap. Rather than make another superbulky shawl-collar to improbably fill that role, I’m going with something more basic and adaptable — a simple V-neck Improv cardigan. But I do think the yarn should still be Balance, as Bellows was. Holding this yarn single (it was doubled for Bellows) means alternating skeins and I’m lazy, so I got to thinking about other ways to deal with the ball changes. I’ve always loved Joelle Hoverson’s idea, from her Diagonal Pinstripe Scarf, to knit a stripe wherever she happened to be when she put the project down, and thought I could follow similar logic here, except knitting a couple of garter ridges wherever the ball change happened to occur. I debated sticking with the Graphite colorway, since that had worked well for me, but think this particular cardigan might seem too somber in charcoal, so I’m going with the light grey, Talc.

CHALLENGING: As eager as I am to replace my shawl collar, I think it’s high time I knitted the fisherman sweater I’ve always dreamed of. 2017 is the year, dammit! And I plan to take my time with it, so I better get started. I believe I’ve settled on the vintage pattern, Bernat 536-145, that keeps turning up in my path, over and over, since that feels like the universe trying to make a point. I haven’t tried it yet, but for the yarn I’m hoping I can make Arranmore work, because I’m in love with this yarn and think the tweediness of it would be both attractive and useful here. We’ll see what a swatch says!

Beyond that, I’ve made three more pattern/yarn decisions — all standing in the Mindless line:

Queue Check — March 2017: A whole new queue

TOP: There’s a sweater floating around Pinterest the last few years that I find myself never not wanting (I think it might have been Steven Alan), but of course it was several seasons ago and no longer available, so I’ve decided that’s what I’ll be doing with my treasured Junegrass. (Improv) I also have ideas about the timing and context of this one, which I’ll have more to say about soon!

MIDDLE: I knitted this swatch with the two weights (bulky and DK) of the brassy TN Textile Mill merino held together, and I’m deeply in love with it. Want to make a big, simple funnel-neck pullover, and am so tempted to do it right away — it would be so quick! — but that’s silly when it can’t be worn for months and I have a pressing need to fill. So it will have to wait. (Also Improv.)

BOTTOM: For all the times I’ve said I wish my purple Trillium cardigan was grey, I’ve decided to make a grey one. I happen to have the two random sleeves I knitted long ago from my beloved Sawkill Farm stash, and am planning to see if I can make them work for Trillium. Not sure if I’ll do the chevrons-and-nups treatment around the yoke or modify that somehow.

And then there are the others on the horizon that I haven’t made any yarn decisions about yet:

Queue Check — March 2017: A whole new queue

TOP LEFT: I’m champing at the bit to try the Cocoknits Method of top-down, which leads to English-tailored shoulders and set-in sleeves. I want both a big bulky pullover and a chunky cardigan, and will likely follow some version of the Emma pattern for whichever I ultimately decide on.

TOP RIGHT: Yep, it’s that sleeveless turtleneck again. I’m going to knit another one and hope you will too! I’ll have lots more to say about that tomorrow.

BOTTOM LEFT: Not letting go of the cowichan-ish idea, likely a customized version of Jane Richmond’s West Coast Cardigan.

BOTTOM RIGHT: And pretty sure the shawl-collar replacement will be Norah Gaughan’s Sourcebook Chunky Cardigan. Not sure about yarn yet, but this will likely come next in the Challenging column, someday when the vintage Bernat is done.

Either of those last two would make an excellent Rhineback sweater-jacket, so that may have bearing on how the queue plays out over the next few months!

(Fashionary sketch templates and Lykke Driftwood needles from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: February 2017

New Favorites: from The Artisan

New Favorites: from The Artisan

You guys know how much I’ve loved some of Helga Isager’s past collections (2012, 2013, 2014), and when the images from her new book, The Artisan, started showing up on the Internet, I knew I was not only going to be saving a ton of them at Ravelry for later, but that I would want to stock this one in the shop. It arrived last night (the English version) and I swear I almost slept with it under my pillow, hoping I could wake up inside of it. The whole thing is incredible, but my top picks are:

TOP: Pearls – an allover diagonal-stitch pullover

BOTTOM LEFT: Birch – a cozy slouchy cocoon cardigan

BOTTOM RIGHT: Twine – a fuzzy little cabled turtleneck

You can see the whole pattern set at Ravelry and pick up a copy of the book at Fringe Supply Co.!

p.s. If you’ve had your eye on the black Field Bag, please be aware it’s now in limited supply, so get it while they last!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Chevron hats

2017 FO-2 : Camel Channel cardigan

2017 FO-2 : Camel Channel cardigan

Being that this was nearing completion so close to takeoff, I thought I was going to refrain from doing an FO post about it until I had photos of myself wearing it on the trip, but as soon as I snipped the last woven-in end yesterday, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand the wait. So here it is in all its glory — albeit on a hanger and an armless dress form. I’m sure there will still be Paris photos to come. ;)

In short: LOVE.

Sooo it’s not the sweater I originally set out to knit — different proportions than expected and, as a result, not shawl-collar — but I couldn’t love it any more for what it turned out to be. When I slip it on, it feels utterly perfect: like it’s exactly as it was meant to be, and like it suits my frame perfectly.

It’s a modified version of Jared Flood’s incredible Channel Cardigan pattern, knitted in Jones & Vandermeer’s Clever Camel, and like my Gentian hat of yore, this was a magical combination of yarn and stitch pattern. Every minute I spent with it in my hands was heaven, even when I was ripping back and redoing, and I am sad that it’s over! The fabric is beyond words. (And I wound up using far less yarn than I thought, so it wasn’t even as expensive as I was prepared for it to be! Although still definitely an investment, and very definitely worth it.)

There was a moment early on when I got nervous about using this natural camel color for this particular project. Halfway into the first sleeve, I realized the combination of color and texture was going to feel very ’70s to me, and the question was whether it would be good ’70s or bad ’70s. In the end, it does feel like a really great thrift-store find (and just a tiny bit like I pinched it off Mr. Rogers). But I’m glad I went with it. My only regret is not making the pockets about two chevrons deeper, but they’ll serve their purpose just fine.

Most of all, I want to say that this sweater is, somehow, truly next level. It terms of how polished and professional it feels, it easily surpasses everything I’ve knitted to date. I couldn’t be prouder — or more excited to wear it. Thankfully we’re traveling somewhere it stands a chance, because it’s too late in Nashville!

2017 FO-2 : Camel Channel cardigan

Pattern: Channel Cardigan by Jared Flood
Yarn: Clever Camel by Jones & Vandermeer in Naked (undyed)
Cost: 10 skeins @ $19.80/ea (spent in 2016) + $7.50 buttons + $8 pattern (spent in 2014) = $213.50
Buttons: 20mm bleached horn narrow-rim buttons from Fringe Supply Co.

Modifications:
– knitted sleeves flat and seamed
– added side seams (via basting stitch at each side)
– added inset pockets
– omitted waist shaping
– omitted eyelets/belt
– omitted seamed shawl collar; worked a plain, picked-up, garter-stitch band instead (US5)

Size notes:
I knitted the size 38.75 size at a very slightly larger stitch gauge, so it’s a more like 40-41″ in circumference (about 5-6″ positive ease on me), but all vertical dimensions (sleeve length, V depth, total length, etc) match the pattern/schematic.

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater hereInstagram posts here, and favorite it at Ravelry if you’re so inclined!

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Black yoke sweater

Knit the Look: Marthe Wiggers’ vintage-chic pullover

Knit the Look: Marthe Wiggers' vintage-chic pullover

I love how simultaneously retro and au courant Dutch model Marthe Wiggers looks in this slinky, ribbed, black mock-neck sweater and motorcycle jacket. Such simplicity with that sweater, and as usual what makes it noteworthy are the tiny little details — the proportion of the peaks and valleys of that ribbing, and the shift in scale from the sweater to the neck. Which is easy enough to emulate. Vintage patterns would be the best bet on this one, but there are some available options to work from. There’s a reasonably similar Rowan pattern from a few years ago, Fiori (just add ribbing) but it’s worsted weight, whereas Marthe’s sweater seems to be a fine-gauge machine knit. So I’m going to recommend Pierrot’s characteristically rudimentary, English-translated Japanese pattern called 22-23-20 Ribbed Turtleneck Sweater (free pattern), which is written for fingering weight. (As with pretty much all Japanese patterns, it’s one size, so add to the stitch count as/where necessary to adjust the width.) To make it look more like Marthe’s, try the rib in 2×1 or even 3×1, switching to 1×1 on smaller needles for the collar. And instead of knitting the neck to full turtleneck length, stop at about 3”. Yarn-wise, for that gorgeous heathered black I’m a big fan of Quince and Co’s Sabine colorway, which is available in fingering-weight Finch.

For more photos and Marthe’s full outfit, see Vanessa’s original blog post. And for guidance on how to read a Japanese knitting pattern, click here.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Camille Charriere’s stripes

Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

Changing the Channel

Changing the Channel

Life is funny sometimes. Or closets? Maybe closets are funny sometimes. Not ten days ago, I was a person with a trusty charcoal shawl-collar cardigan nearly always by her side, and another (lighter, woolier) shawl-collar cardigan in progress. Then in the space of a few days, I went from two shawl collars to none — and somehow all of this is ultimately a happy tale.

My parents came to visit toward the end of the week before last. My mom wanted to see the sweaters I’d finished since she’d last been here, so we got into my little closet. As I was pulling things out, I was reminded that I’ve wanted to have her try on my Bellows. She’d had it on pretty much exactly two years ago, right after I finished it, and I’ve never gotten over how perfect it was on her — like I’d made it just for her. Some part of my brain is always wanting her to put it on again so I could confirm that, and then I would know that the Bellows dimensions were perfect should I ever knit her a sweater. I didn’t say any of this to her — only that I wanted to see it on her again — and sure enough, it slipped onto her just like Cinderella’s slipper. She started beaming, turning back and forth in front of the mirror, and joke asking “How much …?” and I had a hard time folding it up and putting it away.

That evening, we went our for dinner on the screened porch at our favorite restaurant and I loaned her the sweater, knowing it would be more comfortable to eat in than her jacket. Again that happiness on her face. As we were sitting there eating, I knew I couldn’t take it back from her — it was hers. As much as I minded that it was not brand-new or made specifically with her in mind, she apparently couldn’t have cared less. The next morning when she put it on to leave, my heart melted again — I was sad to see it go of course (my companion!), but so happy it was going with her and that she was so happy.

And then it hit me: What on earth am I going to wear now?!

But there was still my Channel in my near future, right? No worries. Once they were gone, I blocked the Channel pieces I had finished a few days earlier, and left them to dry over that weekend. For me, seaming is a daylight (and thus weekend) task, so I knew I’d have to let the pieces lay there on my table untouched through last week, and I dutifully set about swatching for the bands and collar (by which I mean starting one, measuring, starting over … with three different needles). By Tuesday evening, impatient to see how it would come together, I clipped the pieces to my shirt, and I knew almost instantaneously that it was a good thing I hadn’t gotten any farther with the bands. This would no longer be a shawl collar.

The sweater I’ve had in my sketches and my head all this time has been based on the photos and the sample I tried on three years ago, when I first decided to knit it. It hit me mid-hip, the sleeves were a tiny bit short, and the V of the neckline hit just below my bust. I made a mental note that the only thing I’d tinker with was the sleeve length and that I would move the top button placement up a bit — I like a shawl collar to be high and snug. As I started knitting, I made the decision to stick to the pattern dimensions so as not to require any tweaks to the length or shaping of the collar itself, since it’s a bit of a job. So rather than scrutinizing the schematic, as I usually do, I just followed the pattern as written. When it said to knit the body to 17″, I thought that seemed longer than the one I’d tried on, but longer wouldn’t be bad, so ok. What I failed to notice in my non-scrutiny is the depth of the V. So what I have on my worktable is gorgeous and useful … just a different sweater than the one I thought I was making. This sweater has a very deep V that hits right at my belly button, and the hemline falls below my crotch. In other words, it looks exactly like my modified-Vidje sketch, only with a different surface texture:

Changing the Channel

For me, these proportions call for a plain button band, not an elongated shawl collar, which feels like a disservice to Jared’s stunning pattern, but also the right thing to do for my garment. So all of a sudden, instead of filling the (now larger than anticipated) shawl-collar gap in my closet, this one is filling the gap Vidje was going to be meant for! And now that there are no shawl collars in my closet, the landscape of my queue is taking a completely different shape. Suddenly I have all kinds of options and considerations I had ruled out, some exciting rethinking to do, and a gorgeous-albeit-unintended sweater almost finished.

• Channel Cardigan pattern by Jared Flood in Clever Camel

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PREVIOUSLY: All Channel posts

Now available: Camellia Tank pattern!

Now available: Camellia Tank pattern!

I’m happy to report that the pattern I designed for Making Issue 2, the Camellia Tank, is now available as a standalone pattern! This sweater was inspired by Camellia Fiber Company‘s incredible superbulky black-and-white handspun (entirely undyed), and makes a great showcase for this yarn or other dramatic superbulky. It’s a simple sleeveless shell but with some very specific details to keep all of the edges as clean and tidy as possible, given the nature of the yarn. It looks great on its own, but if you choose a size with more ease it would also look fantastic layered over a button-down, turtleneck or shirtdress.

It’s a very quick knit as this gauge, and a great way to spend some time with a knockout yarn. And you can now download the pattern at Ravelry. (The yarn is available from Camellia, spun to order.)

My thanks again to Carrie Bostick Hoge for inviting me to contribute to her beautiful magazine!

Now available: Camellia Tank pattern!

Modeled photos © Carrie Bostick Hoge