Arguably one of the most famous sweaters in American history — if not the most famous — is Mister Rogers’ red cardigan, which he wore on countless episodes of his legendary TV show and at least once to meet an American president, and which is now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian. As a knitter, you probably know that his mother knitted all of his cardigans for as long as she was able, and you may be wondering if the sweaters Tom Hanks wears in the movie are also handknits. They were, and here’s the knitter who knitted them. And if you’d like to knit one for yourself or some kindly person in your life, there’s a free pattern.
The sample is knitted in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Cinnabar, but it’s possible you could knit it in another color and not have people make Mister Rogers references everywhere you go. There are also those great vintage Mary Maxim patterns if you want something in the same vein but a little less on the nose.
I feel like I should acknowledge that as a small child I lived for Sesame Street and found Mister Rogers unbearable. But I do love the knitting angle.
The Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Amirisu landed on my desk last week and I had a bit of a swoon. It is stunningly beautiful from front to back, and there’s not a single thing in there I wouldn’t want to have. (Including the house where it was shot!) I’m not sure the last time I said that about a magazine or book, but while I’m thumbs-up on the entire dozen patterns that comprise the issue, of course there are those that stand out as my very favorites of the bunch:
TOP: Streaks by Keiko Kikuno would make me want to learn how to knit if I didn’t already know how
LOWER LEFT: Fleur by Megumi Sawada is a pretty little lace-and-bobbles hat (which apparently is a thing that appeals to me! who knew)
LOWER RIGHT: Lierne Cowl by Bristol Ivy is a fascinating little loop of pleated coziness
BELOW, UPPER: Escala by Alice Caetano features a mesmerizing fade in texture from smocking to diamonds — I’m obsessed with this
BELOW, LOWER: Wetherell by Kiyomi Burgin is a super charming yoke sweater with additional colorwork accents at the cuffs
It’s officially knitting season. I know because my brain is like “What’s a sewing machine?” and my fingers are like “Why are we not knitting?” I am knitting, but it’s also officially peak crazy season for me with work, so there’s little time for anything else. But as it goes, by squeaking in a row before bed here and there I’ve crossed the magic dividing line, and my cardigan-in-progress now has sleeve caps and a body. I’m absolutely dying to get to the shawl collar on it, and given that it’s as much knitting as a sleeve, I think I’m going to change up the order a bit on this one and finish the body first (which I usually do last), so I can do the collar next, then the sleeves last. I’m convinced that having that collar on there will light a fire under me and I’ll race through the sleeves so I can wear it.
But I’m also pondering baby sweaters. I’ve got two tiny new great-nieces (cousins to each other), and the circumstances for their arrivals are complicated. So I feel strongly that my first baby cardigans are in order. I just need to settle on patterns and yarn and then they’ll take precedence over this lovely green stockinette beast. Feel free to tell me your all-time favorite baby sweater patterns!
Do you recognize this yarn? This perfectly green Andorra that’s been on my Yarns in Waiting list since late 2017. I’ve been dying to knit with it but cognizant of how warm it is — a delicious wool and mohair blend — and whether it would be sensible for me to make a sweater in it. At this point, given that I have wanted this theoretical sweater for two years, I feel good about committing to it — at least on the level of “how well-considered is this make,” and “will it really be cherished?”
But there’s still the question of (excess) warmth. As much as I would like it to be a simple pullover, a cardigan would be safer, and after searching high and low for a less-warm green yarn that I felt anywhere near as inspired by — due diligence, y’know — I gave myself permission to just do it. Um, held double. Trying to get a sweater’s worth meant ordering from two different stores, and when a dear friend caught wind of my plan, she reminded me that she knitted a Weekender in Andorra-held-double and finds it too warm for our climate. So she loaned me her sweater, I wore it for part of an 80+-degree morning with the window open and then into some frigid a/c. And I found it perfectly cozy! Granted, this is a far-from-scientific experiment, but I want to knit this sweater and if it turns out I can’t wear it, I will find someone who will love it as much as I do. Which shouldn’t be hard, because it is going to be gorgeous.
So this is my travel project — a simple V-neck, stockinette cardigan, most likely with a shawl collar, knitted top-down over the next two weeks as I travel to and around India. (I’m of the opinion that a top-down sweater is the ideal travel project. You get to do the fun starting bits as you embark, then settle into the rhythm of the yoke during your journey, and it generally doesn’t get unwieldy before you get home.)
I leave tomorrow morning and will be back to blogging sometime the third week of October. I’m hoping to tell you a little bit about the textile workshop portion of the trip when I’m back, but I will be offline until then, fully present for my trip.
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If anyone is wondering about Slow Fashion October, I only alluded to it at the time, but 2018 was meant as my last year hosting it. I organized it last year around the notion of how to build a wardrobe you’re committed to, which is at the core of slow fashion — because loved clothes will be taken care of and kept, not treated as disposable — and left a note at the end saying it’s there for anyone to follow anytime. And that remains true! If you’d like to go through the process, it’s there for you in the feed and the entire history of Slow Fashion October can be revisited here on the blog as well. The conversation is obviously far bigger than me and I encourage you to keep having it, with or without me — feel free to use #slowfashionoctober this month to do so! Or start another and I’ll be happy to spread the word. In addition to everyone who’s ever been featured on @slowfashionoctober, I also recommend adding @thesustainablefashionforum and @melaninASS to your follow list!
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Given that I won’t be available to respond after tomorrow, I’ll be turning off comments while I’m away and will re-enable them when I’m back.
The blocking kit pictured above is via Fringe Supply Co. and I should note that my absence will have zero effect on anything with that — the shop is open and DG will be shipping orders just as efficiently as always!
Like any human heart, mine often wants what it can’t have. Or shouldn’t have, anyway. In this case: any more bulky sweaters! Ohhhh the joy of a quickly knit sweater, the profound coziness of pulling one on when the weather is right. It’s soooo goooood. I know I’m supposed to be focusing on lighter, less warm sweaters to bring my closet in line with my climate, but I’m gazing longingly at these —
TOP: ふっくらケーブル模様のセーター by Yokota/Daruma features a simple cable at dramatic scale (Japanese only)
BOTTOM LEFT: Ramsay by Whitney Hayward is fisherman-level cables in light-as-air yarn
BOTTOM RIGHT: Cleburne Cardigan also by Whitney Hayward is a simple cardigan made special with striking colorwork
I’m still hosting an internal debate about my fall sweater. Now, in addition to the allover texture options, I’m weighing textured yoke possibilities. These are just a few of the contenders, along with previously mentioned Anker’s Sweater and Eldingar—
The instant I laid eyes on my friend Denise Bayron‘s Grace pullover in Laine magazine’s IG feed, as you know, I knew it would be one of my three Summer of Basics projects, and it didn’t take long for me to decide to knit it in OUR Yarn, in Toffee. A chunky wool sweater is not on the Approved Closet Additions list, but I’ve wanted a pullover in this single-batch yarn ever since acquiring it for Fringe, and this was the perfect sweater for it — simple yet interesting. My hope was that the somewhat abbreviated shape would make it more wearable in my climate than a more voluminous bulky sweater would be, but that remains to be seen. Meanwhile, I love it.
So this is the first of my three SoB picks to be finished. I’m still hoping to finish the hat before this week is out. And while I don’t yet have the fabric for the dress to complete my proposed trio, I have sewn myself three dresses this summer! So I’m feeling good about that.
But back to Grace: Knitting it in this yarn meant doing my own math, since the gauge is different — I’m at 3.75 sts/inch vs the pattern gauge of 2.75 — but that was easy to do since it’s top-down. (Of course, I bought the pattern — the magazine — to compensate the source, even though I knitted it my own way. If you can’t get ahold of this issue, I believe Denise will be releasing the pattern for individual download sometime in November.) The challenge was only in maintaining Denise’s design details and silhouette while making up my numbers, and the only real trick in that was the neck. I really love the little retro slight-funnel neck, and wanted to preserve it, but more than that I love the way the cable panel not only runs right up onto the funnel but actually spans the full width of the front neck between the two raglans. Since knitting at a finer gauge would automatically mean my cables would be narrower, I had to choose among a few options: widening the cables, increasing the number of cables, widening the reverse stockinette field, or not having it fully span the front neck like that — none of which I wanted to do, but I could live with the first one.
By just slightly widening the cables (from 3 stitches to 4, which does create a different look for the cables themselves, unfortunately) and by shifting more of the stitches into the shoulder tops than what Denise starts with, I was able to preserve that key design detail. I also did an extra set of short row turns for the back neck, and placed them a little differently, given the gauge difference. When it came to the sleeves, in addition to knitting them flat, like I do, I did a thing I’ve always wanted to try, which was to put short rows in at the edge of the sleeve caps. (I’ll post more about that in a separate Details post!) In making my sleeve tweaks, I forgot to look and see what clever thing Denise had done with the decreases, so that part got left out. But otherwise, it’s pretty much as designed!
After finishing the sweater on Sunday afternoon, I was dying to wear it (for the length of a photo) with my striped linen pants … which were still just a stack of parts on my table. Thus motivated, three hours later I had these beauties. You’ll recall these (yet another pair of modified Robbie pants) were cut out of what was left of the Merchant and Mills stripe from my glorious caftan, and working out the stripe placement was tricky! I managed to use only the multi-stripe portion of the fabric and was able to place the pattern pieces in such a way that the adjacent black stripe disappeared into the seam allowances at the crotch and outer leg. The gaps left between the stripes at those seams are close enough to the original gap between them, as woven, that I don’t think you even notice! My big concern was how it would look where the stripes collide in the rear, but I figured worst-case scenario I’d have to always wear a long top with them. In the end, the butt is my favorite part! And how often can one say that in life?