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.

.

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

Free recipes for top-down sweaters

Free recipes for top-down sweaters

At your request, I’m aiming to create a directory of all of the posts I’ve ever written with assorted advice on sweater knitting, but in the meantime I’ve been wanting to pull together a list of all of the top-down sweater recipes I’ve ever posted — essentially free patterns, when used with either your existing understanding of how top-down sweaters work or in conjunction with my Improv top-down sweater tutorial. Whenever I finish an improvised top-down I always (well, nearly always) share all of my math and notes so you can recreate it if you like or use it as a jumping off point, tweaking the math or details to your size and liking. I’ll continue to add to this in the future, but following are the various top-down recipes I’ve shared in the past few years:

TOP ROW LEFT: Basic pullover
3.75 sts/inch, nothing fancy (knitted step-by-step in the Improv tutorial)

TOP ROW RIGHT: Cropped v-neck pullover
3.5 sts/inch, cropped with v-neck, elbow sleeves, compound raglans

MIDDLE ROW LEFT: Striped basic pullover
5.75 sts/inch, striped, folded neckband

MIDDLE ROW RIGHT: Rollneck pullover
5.25 sts/inch, rollneck

BOTTOM ROW LEFT: Cropped v-neck cardigan
4.5 sts/inch, cropped with inset pocket

BOTTOM ROW RIGHT: Big v-neck cardigan
4.25 sts/inch, long with patch pockets

Remember, the tutorial will show you how to adapt any of these (or whatever you have in mind) to whatever gauge and proportions you desire! And Ravelry is full of far more creative variations. But I hope these give you some ideas for the basic kit of parts and where you might start with it, if you haven’t already.

.

PREVIOUSLY in Patterns: Anna Vest pattern, now available

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 …

.

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—

.

PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Hot tips and tricks

The day I almost steeked

The day I almost steeked

I haven’t gotten to knit the past couple of weeks — was hoping to cast on my Sólbein for the Steekalong this weekend, but work intervened. But there was a brief and shining moment yesterday afternoon where the sun peeked through the clouds for the first time in about 10 days and it made me suddenly desperate to do something in that momentary spot of light. So I grabbed my purple lopi sweater, ripped out the neckband, and placed a couple of stitch markers to mark the center front stitch and where I want the tip of the V of the new cardigan front to sit. Then I threaded some hot pink waste yarn onto a tapestry needle, basted a line where the center front cut will go, and continued upwards each direction toward the raglan seams. I basically just eyeballed it, since I can’t think of a more accurate way to do it that isn’t more tedious than I could bear.

The plan is to run two rows of machine stitching alongside these basting stitches before cutting it open, but as soon as I slid the sweater under the foot of my machine, the sun disappeared for the evening and I went back to what I was supposed to be doing. Which means if anyone has any advice they want to give me before I do this, here’s your chance!

Speaking of Sólbein, Mary Jane put up an IG post showing button bands picked up before the steek is cut. She’ll have a longer blog post on that approach soon!

.

New Favorites: Yuko Shimizu sweaters

New Favorites: Yuko Shimizu

Yuko Shimizu is one of many great designers I’ve learned of this past week as a result of the powerful discussion going on about diversity and the knitting community. If you’ve missed it somehow, there’s a good synopsis-with-links on Ravelry. In addition to hopefully opening eyes and minds to ways we can all do better to make the knitting community (and the world) a more inclusive place, it’s bringing a lot of wonderful and talented people into broader view.

I’m super smitten with these sweaters:

TOP: Sunburst is a fantastic little cropped colorwork sweater with full sleeves and some mohair content giving it an unusual surface texture for such a sweater

BOTTOM: Anton Sweater is a sport-weight raglan sweater with allover cables and texture; a slouchy, cropped shape; and split neck — see also this ivory version on her IG feed

She also has a cute free cable hat pattern, Tonttu Beanie, among other beauties and this one on the way.

.

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Sari’s cable hats

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.

.

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