New Favorites: Simple pleasures

New Favorites: Simple pleasures (knitting patterns)

Maybe it’s because I’m wrapping up my annual spot-of-colorwork project, I don’t know, but for whatever reason, I’m finding myself soooo drawn to the idea of knitting something really simple and straightforward but also beautiful and useful. Such as …

TOP: Column by Hiromi Nagasawa is a bulky or superbulky pullover with an unusual construction method that also gives a simple sweater a different look

BOTTOM LEFT: Chunky Slipper Socks by Churchmouse is a bulky version of their fingering-weight Turkish Bed Socks, one of the first patterns I ever bought (but still haven’t knitted!)

BOTTOM RIGHT: Classic Ribbed Hat by Purl Soho is exactly that (free pattern)

Happy weekend, everyone! If you happen to be at Quiltcon today, here in Nashville, hey me too! Please say hello.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Junko’s abstract Bouquet

Fringe and Friends Steekalong highlights and random winners

Fringe and Friends Steekalong results and winners

While there are still people knitting — some of whom have started in on a next sweater — today marks the close of the official Fringe and Friends Steekalong coverage. But please do keep knitting! And I’ll keep tuning in to the #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed, where there is so much splendor to behold.

In addition to an assortment of other beautiful sweaters and even a shawl or two, we’ve literally seen a Sólbein Cardigan in every color of the rainbow, plus all the neutrals, and one rainbow-hued take on the yoke, above, by @mettosaurus. Not to mention pockets, zippers, handspun — and a couple of reversals, converting Sólbein to a pullover, such as the beauty seen on @carolinefrett above in the great group shot from @wollenberlin.

I just have the finishing to do on my mini and can’t wait to show it to you — it’s gotten cuter and cuter with every step completed.

The FIVE WINNERS drawn at random from the qualifying entries are: @fletch1800 @knitterbree @thehavelockzoo @madknitter51 and @kbzelazny. Congratulations, you’ve each won a Field Bag in the color of your choice! Please email <contact@fringesupplyco.com> to claim your prize.

Thanks so much to everyone who participated or cheered participants along. It’s always such a joy join in with knitters stretching skills and sharing insights and making beautiful garments, and that’s never been more true than with all the steekers in this crowd. And thanks especially to Mary Jane Mucklestone for the amazing pattern and for joining in with so much great advice and cheerleading along the way!

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: How to knit a mini Solbein

How to knit a miniature (Sólbein) cardigan

How to knit a miniature (Sólbein) cardigan

After sharing the latest pic and steeking progress on my mini Sólbein Cardigan on Instagram over the weekend, I’m getting a lot of questions about how I’ve adapted this pattern for child-size, and the specifics of what’s going on. Since it seems like a number of people are considering casting on, I thought I should tell you two key things now instead of waiting until I’m all done with the knitting—

THE SIZE

First, I have made no adjustments to the pattern. It’s a perfect demonstration of how gauge matters: All I’m doing is knitting the pattern as written, following the instructions for the smallest size, but using smaller stitches. The pattern gauge is 3.5 stitches and 4.25 rows per inch on recommended US10.5 needles — aka bulky gauge. I’m knitting with heavy-worsted yarn (chiefly Kelbourne’s Germantown) on size US8 needles, and my blocked gauge is 4.25 stitches and 6.25 rows per inch. Smaller stitches add up to fewer inches, ergo the sweater is way smaller.

I did stop to check the math and make sure I didn’t need to redistribute the sleeve/body stitch counts at all before I separated them. Making sure to count the underarm sts, I divided the stitch counts from the pattern by my stitch gauge to see where it would put me, which turned out to be about 25-26″ chest circumference (once I factor in button bands) and just under 10″ upper sleeve. I then consulted this chart to see where that would put it in the size/age range, and I’m looking at a child size 6. To double-check (especially since some of those numbers and labels are a little odd to me) I also asked a friend to measure one of her daughter’s sweaters, and these measurements seemed fine. So I’ve stuck with the stitch counts from the pattern right through the sleeve separation, and all I need to do differently is knit the body and sleeves to size-appropriate lengths, rather than the lengths given in the pattern.

I’ve made the body 14.5″ long (the yoke came out to 6″, so 8.5″ for the body). I’ll make the sleeves 12″ long, and you can see I’m leaving out the lower colorwork, just knitting contrasting hem and cuffs.

THE STEEK

One thing I did not take into account when shrinking my stitch size is that the pattern contains only 2 sts for the steek — you sew down those two stitches and cut the running thread between them. At my reduced scale, that is a very small target. Sewing along those 2 sts before cutting between them left me with no room for picking up stitches for the button band. I’ll need to pick up into the center of the first knit stitch, rather than beside it, which will leave me with a half stitch of colorwork butting up against the button band. I think it will be fine, if not ideal. But if you’re planning to do this, I would highly recommend giving yourself a couple of extra stitches in the steek, so you have more room to work with.

One side effect of my tenseness when I slid this under the machine to secure that narrow little steek is that I forgot to keep an eye on the tail of my waste yarn. And yep, I managed to sew perfectly along about a two-inch length of it. It’ll be my little hidden secret (my humble spot) once it’s turned under and covered with a pretty ribbon, but ack! I think I might be the only person in the entire #fringeandfriendssteekalong feed who had any trouble with the steek! It was fun anyway, and somehow the sweater is even more darling now that it’s cut open.

The other question I’ve gotten is why did I secure and cut the steek before knitting sleeves. The answer is two-fold: 1) I couldn’t wait to do it! 2) If I screwed it up, I didn’t want to have wasted time knitting sleeves.

What else can I tell you at this stage?

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Variations on a stranded them

New Favorites: Junko’s abstract Bouquet

New Favorites: Junko's abstract Bouquet

I’m jumping the gun on this one because I literally cannot wait until the pattern publishes on Friday — it’s Junko Okamoto’s latest flash of brilliance, the Bouquet Sweater and scarf (not sure if the latter will be a separate pattern, but I assume). We’ve talked before about my love of The Twigs, and I’m equally smitten with her floral doodle on Papa, but this one is next level. Bouquet features a large-scale flower motif that reminds me of a sort of Weiner Werkstätte way of doing a floral — graphic and abstracted. But it’s also not a standard stranded motif and not embroidered after the fact. I’m eager to see when the pattern drops, but it’s either an incredibly clever use of right-side and wrong-side floats, or a wrapping technique similar to that in L’Arbre Hat? Like I said, I can’t wait to see the pattern and find out.

She’s knitted the sample sweater in a marl and a fairly low-contrast color, downplaying the effect — then flipped the two yarns for the scarf. For a higher-contrast version, just look at this gorgeousness.

And I just realized there’s been an unintended theme to New Favorites so far this year — bouclé cables, mohair colorwork, stranded purls and now this. So much lovely surface texture happening.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Stranded purl hats

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.

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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.

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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 …

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: UFOs of 2018