New Favorites: Massaman set

New Favorites: Massaman set

One of the first things I ever favorited at Ravelry, when I first learned to knit, is this “Charcoal set” by a knitter who goes by knittimo — a simple charcoal pullover and a little cowl knitted in the same yarn. I didn’t necessarily love the particulars of the cowl, but I loved the idea of a removable turtleneck, basically. I remember how charmed I was when I ran into it. (We were still living in the always-blustery Bay Area then, where protecting your neck is a daily must, year-round. Being able to remove the cowl once inside was immensely appealing.) In the past couple of weeks, I’ve seen two different patterns released for a sweater with matching cowl, which brought that old favorite to mind. The one I an enamored with is Massaman by Elizabeth Smith, a sleeveless take on the same thought. You know I love a sleeveless turtleneck, but I also adore this little tee without its cowl. Having the cowl option, though, makes an already great layering piece that much more fun to play with. And it would be so fun and quick to knit …

Uh oh. I think I hear my resolve cracking.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Colorwork for minimalists

Before and After: Fisherman sweater redux

Before and After: Fisherman sweater redux
Before and After: Fisherman sweater redux

Happy Labor Day, for those in the US! I’ll have Summer of Basics highlights, thoughts and prize news tomorrow, but I couldn’t wait to show you the “after” pics of my fisherman sweater fix. (See my previous post for the original/full rundown.) I’m not sure how dramatic the difference is in the photos, but trust me: It’s no longer rippling around me; gone is the cape effect in the back, the rolls of fabric with nowhere to go; and it is a sweater instead of a tunic. Whereas before I was thrilled with it as a piece of knitting, now I’m thrilled with it as a garment. Even my husband, the only other person to have seen it in person both before and after, took one look, nodded, and said, “It looks good now. You saved it.”

As I had postulated, I’d simply gone much too wide and a bit too long with it when I initially blocked the pieces. In the “before” (left) photos, it was about 43″ at the chest (8.5″ ease), 46″ at the hips (7.5″ ease), and roughly 26.5″ long. Which could be totally fine for a lighter, thinner sweater with less surface density, but was not working with this fabric. By giving the finished garment a nice long soak and then being more gentle in laying it out, it’s now more like 41″ in the chest (6.5″ ease), 44″ at the hem (5.5″ ease), and about 25″ long.

Before, it was not too terrible looking from the sides, definitely a little long in the front — just a bit too much of a good thing — but looked awful from behind. More to the point, I did not feel cute or comfortable (or even proud) in it. I felt swallowed. Thankfully it was easily fixed, without having to rip out a single stitch.

What is this sorcery, some of you will wonder? A piece of wet knitting is a like a lump of play-doh — you have a lot of power to mold it. In a case like this one, the broken-rib portions and and the raspberry stitch are fairly fixed in their widths, but the cables (just like lace) have quite a lot of give. When I first blocked the pieces, I had pulled them way open, making the fabric wider. Whereas in the reblock, I did not. It’s as simple as that. Likewise, rather than pulling at the length at all, or pinning it in place to dry, I gently coaxed it shorter as I laid it out, and left it free to pull up even more as it dried.

So it took only a few minutes of effort — and a couple days’ wait — and now I finally feel like I have the sweater I wanted all these years. That photo up top is of a dream come true.

See also: How do you block your finished knits?

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PREVIOUSLY in FOs: The fisherman sweater

2017 FO-11 : The fisherman sweater (SoB-3)

Finished: The fisherman sweater (SoB-3)

The hardest part about making clothes, if you’re like me, is that when you’re done with them you have to put them on and have someone point a camera at you. Many are the times I feel I’ve done a disservice to a lovely garment due to my ineptitude as a “model,” but never more so than with this GLORIOUS fisherman sweater. My love, my holy grail. The reason I wanted to learn to knit. The garment I searched years for in shops and catalogs, then pored over patterns for another five+ years — between when I learned to knit and when I finally cast on. The sweater that’s been my constant companion for the past two-and-half months. Dearest Sweater: You deserve better than me.

So I’m being a little bit coy with the photos here because, basically, I blew it. Although, in fairness, we’re sort of both to blame — the sweater and me. In addition to my awkward self, the photos tell an unfortunate truth about the sweater, which is that there’s just a little too much of it. As a piece of knitting, it couldn’t be more stunning. But as a garment, it’s wide and droopy in the back, too long in the front, just a bit too big throughout the whole body. Schlumpy. (You’ll have to take my word for it.) But it’s fixable.

You may recall how obsessive I was being about the gauge and the proportions — blocking the first many inches of the back and the sleeve, doing my math, calculating for my perfect shape. I’m very particular about proportion, and the actual gauge and dimensions were a bit vague with this vintage pattern. A slight difference in how the gauge was measured could mean my version would be anywhere from fitted to enormous, and which of those it would be would determine how long I made it. (If it was going to be big, it could be on the long side, but if it was going to be fitted, I would make it shorter. I don’t like a long narrow tube of a sweater.) When the first half of the back blocked out to slightly wider than the XL dimensions given, I decided to go with it being oversized, while carefully controlling the upper sleeve dimensions so I wouldn’t appear to be drowning in it. And while the sleeves are fine, I am drowning in the body. Well, not quite drowning, but treading water a bit? And because the fabric is so dense, it matters. The good news is, I think it’s just that I blocked it too aggressively and may be able to fix it simply be reblocking it. It’s not very far from perfect, and if I can coax it a bit shorter, and resist laying it out quite as wide, that may be all that’s needed. It’s literally soaking as I type, and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

If that doesn’t solve it — if it requires surgery — I’m fully prepared to do it. I intend for this to be my forever sweater, and I love it way more than enough to get it absolutely right.

Finished: The fisherman sweater (SoB-3)

I do believe it was fate that kept throwing this pattern into my path over the past few years, and am eternally grateful to the sweet reader, Catherine K, who sent me the stack of vintage booklets that included the Bernat Book of Irish Knits, seemingly the most popular knitting booklet (and aran sweater pattern) in the history of knitting. I’m so happy I decided to take Summer of Basics as the excuse to finally knit my long-longed-for fisherman, very pleased with my choice of Arranmore for the yarn, so insanely glad that when I finally settled on a pattern it was this one, and I love that I wound up knitting it in its 50th anniversary year. There’s also some poetry to the fact that I charted out the stitches on the flight to Squam at the beginning of June, knitted my swatch on the dock there on a cool early-summer morning, cast on in the car on a trip to see my family, bound off in the car on a trip back from seeing Bob’s family, and did the seaming on my screened porch at home on our first pleasant waning-of-summer day. Now I just have to wait for the weather to wear it!

Pattern mods and details are below, but remember today’s the last day to submit for SoB prizes. If you haven’t already, take a look at the notes on how to enter to win! Judges will deliberate and winners will be announced next week.

FO : The fisherman sweater

Regardless of any of the above, this is the most spectacular thing I’ve ever made and it was really very simple, which I’ll write more about another day. I know it looks complicated, but it’s just a few very straightforward, easily memorized stitch patterns knitted ad nauseum, with a decrease at each end of the RS rows for the raglan shaping, and a standard bit of neck shaping. There’s really not much to it!

The only tweaks I made were as follows:

– It’s essentially the XL at the bottom and scales down a bit in the upper regions, so I started the front and back pieces (on US5 for the ribbing, then US7) with 122 sts but I decreased three times between the ribbing and the underarms, leaving me with 116 each (in between the L and XL) when I reached the underarms. (Note that one of the ways the XL gets its width is there are 2 extra sts between the side cables and the raspberry stitch, which I didn’t like, so that’s where I did 2 of my 3 decreases on the back, with the third at the selvages. For the front, I moved those two stitches to the broken rib. You can see this in the photo below if you look closely.)

– For the cuffs, I cast on 46 sts on US5, increased to 60 on the plain knit row before starting the stitch patterns, and only increased 10 times as I worked the sleeves, so I had 80 sts at the underarms (in between the M and L).

– That meant I had fewer broken rib stitches in my sleeves (10 at each edge) than my sides (14 each). In order for the stitch patterns to stay aligned correctly at the raglans, I just decreased the sleeves more slowly at first than the body, so I arrived at the last of the broken rib stitches on the same row, then decreased evenly (every RS row) on all pieces from there up.

– Because I had fewer stitches throughout at the beginning of the shaping, I only needed to work 64 rows of yoke instead of 68, which made my yoke slightly shorter and spared me the overly deep underarms seen in the pattern photo.

– I did fudge the decreases a bit on the last few rows, since decreasing within the raspberry stitch portions is not normal and not equal from one side to the other — was careful to make sure I worked the same number of rows between underarm and bind-off on all edges, and that I had the same number of sts in each sleeve top at the end. (I kept a few more than the pattern called for — 10 or 12, I think, instead of 8.)

– And then I made up my own neck shaping, since I didn’t like the original and had different stitch counts anyway, but I did keep it high and small like the original — wanted to keep that vintage look.

– I also bound off all stitches and picked up for the neckband — I don’t believe in knitting a neckband from live stitches. I picked up 84 on US6, worked in the half-twisted rib for more like 2.5″ (pattern calls for 3″), bound off on US8 needles and sewed it to the pick-up ridge.

Pattern: Bernat 536-145 from Bernat Book of Irish Knits (1967)
Yarn: Arranmore in St. Claire, 8 skeins
Cost: Free pattern (gift from a friend) + $112 yarn (paid wholesale price)  = $112

You can scroll through all of my posts on this sweater hereInstagram posts here, and put a like on it at Ravelry if you do!

FO : The fisherman sweater

PREVIOUSLY in FOs: My first pants (SoB-2)

New Favorites: Colorwork for minimalists

New Favorites: Colorwork for minimalists

In addition to the fact that the whole color palette for this photo shoot is KILLING ME (her hair, that wall, that foliage …), I am swooning hard over these two new patterns by Whitney Hayward that use the tiniest bit of colorwork to such major effect. In both cases, it’s just a few well-placed rows of 1×1 stranding, and while I obviously love the neutrals here, you can imagine how totally different the effect would be if knitted in three colors instead of three nons. The shawl is Ural and the little transitional-season sweater is Fukuro. Gorgeous on every level.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites:  from Rowan 62

Queue Check — August 2017

Queue Check — August 2017

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that (while fretting about my Texas relatives and everyone else in the vicinity) I had a very productive weekend seaming my fisherman sweater and sewing my first pants. The good news is I’m going to make it across the Summer of Basics finish line in time! The bad news is my fisherman sweater is done, which leaves me with three stockinette projects to choose from:

  1. Finish the purple lopi sweater from the top-down tutorial
  2. Finish the grey summer cardigan
  3. Lengthen the black cardigan

As eager as I am to cast on another meaty project, I’m feeling anxious about the WIPs hanging around too long, so I’m declaring September finish-it month. I also have the two tees that still need their top-stitching, and some assorted mending/repairs to do. And this forced pause should prevent me from starting anything new before I’ve done my proper Fall planning.

I’ve been knitting ol’ purple while the fisherman was blocking and awaiting seam time, and I should be able to do the finishing on it next weekend. It’s so quick! Then next up will be the grey cardigan, which I’m dreading. Every time I think about picking it up, I am overwhelmed with ugh, so I’ve been reaching for the purple one instead. You know I have this idea that if I’m not knitting a given thing, I must not want it very badly, so I keep thinking I should either frog this one or give it to someone else to finish. But then I look at my sketch (from back in March) and I really do want this sweater. I just don’t want to knit it!

Merely typing this plan is making me squirmy, but if the promise of funner projects (including the big-pleated top) gets me to tie up all the loose ends, so be it.

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: July 2017

New Favorites: from Rowan 62

New Favorites: from Rowan 62

The big fall Rowan collection is out, Rowan 62, and if you’re looking for a cable sweater pattern, they’ve got about a dozen for you to choose from, all of them good. But these are my favorites from the issue:

TOP: Cowlam by Lisa Richardson makes me yearn for turtleneck weather!

BOTTOM LEFT: Gransmoor also by Lisa Richardson is a great, bold stranded pullover, love that stripe at chest level

BOTTOM RIGHT: Eastbury by Emma Wright is a cute little circular-yoke stockinette sweater with just a few stripes around the cuffs for interest

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Angelina

 

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New Favorites: Angelina

New Favorites: Angelina Pullover pattern by Mary Anne Benedetto

The Fall issue of Interweave Knits looks like a good one overall, but I’m especially taken with this Angelina Pullover, designed by Mary Anne Benedetto. I love a good yoke with cables in place of colorwork, and these gradually widening wishbones are particularly appealing. Plus I’m thrilled they opted the knit the sample in black. (I believe in black cables.) I’m a little bit conflicted about the shirttail hem — it really shouldn’t work on a yoke sweater, and feels a little trendy, but it’s so beautifully executed I can’t argue with it. The shaping is perfection, and I can’t get enough of the way that I-cord edge hangs. It doesn’t hurt that it happens to be styled with black-and-white gingham, which has been a fixation of mine for months now. So I’d like this exact combo, please.

[EDIT: Apparently this color of Cumbria is Dodd Wood, an extremely dark brown. I forgot there’s no black in that yarn!]

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Threipmuir

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