Five countries, three continents, one cardigan!

I have been holding off showing photos of the cardigan I knit for Leah until it actually arrived in Canada.  It is taking forever to get there, however, so here we go.  Unfortunately, Leah is not around to model it (thus the need to ship it to Canada), so I have had to model it myself.

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I started knitting this cardigan in England when the girls came home for a short break.  I knit most of the back piece in Sicily where we had a great holiday (see the photo below of me knitting it on the lawn of the beautiful villa we holidayed in).  I knit one front in my hotel in Malaysia, where I had traveled to do some teaching for the business school.  I knit part of the other front in Singapore, where I met up with my friend Erun for some fun.  I knit the sleeves back home in England.  I took it with me to Johannesburg, where I was again doing some teaching for the business school.  I did some of the finishing there, knitting the neck and one of the button bands.  And then I finished it back home again in England, where I agonized over button bands and general finishing issues.  FIVE COUNTRIES, THREE CONTINENTS, ONE CARDIGAN!

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I used a pattern from Amy Herzog’s book, Knit to Flatter, with the not very romantic name of Squared Cardigan.  I had purchased 4 skeins of Madelinetosh Pashmina in the colour Plunge, but only needed three to make the cardigan!  (I used every bit of those three skeins.)  I made a few modifications.  First, following Amy’s advice in the book on options for bust shaping, I ended up knitting the two front pieces in a size larger than the back. This gives extra room for the bust and belly without making the cardigan too big across the back and shoulders.  I think this was a good choice.  I won’t really be able to tell until Leah gets to try it on.  I am modelling it here, and Leah and I are close in size, but she is broader in the bust and shorter in the waist than I am.

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I also changed the neckline.  Amy’s pattern has a rolled neck, but I put in three rows of seed stitch instead.  Other than these small mods, I knit the pattern as written (how unlike me!).

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My biggest problems were with the finishing.  I really struggled with the button bands (as documented here).   I decided to sew ribbon to the backs of the button bands and then to use plastic snap fasteners; the buttons are for decorative purposes only.  I’m not entirely happy with this solution.  Doug thinks it would be better with a zipper, and my mom suggested keeping the decorative buttons, but adding hook-and-eye fasteners (instead of the snaps).  Both of these solutions would be good, probably better than what I ended up doing; but honestly, I was so tired of being undecided and wishy-washy and just wanted to get the thing finished and put it in the post.

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One of the things that makes this cardigan distinctive is the textured pattern on the cuffs and waistband and the way that it curves.  I found this to be very fiddly.  I think that it looks pretty but I don’t feel it was worth the time and effort.  If I made this again, I would just put in ribbing, or better yet, seed stitch.

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The yarn is beautiful, but I did feel that there was a big colour difference between some of the skeins; in particular, the back is a noticeably different shade than the fronts and sleeves.  I could have fixed this by alternating skeins, but I really didn’t want to do that, especially since I was lugging this thing around the world with me and knitting it on planes and in airports.  I also worry that the yarn has too much drape for this cardigan.  If I were to knit it again, I would use a yarn with more wool content and less silk.  I would also make the neckline higher by an inch or two.

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So, the conclusion is mixed.  I think it is very pretty; the yarn is lustrous, and the buttons and ribbon are a perfect match.  But, I have some niggling issues with the finishing.  I think, for me, I will chalk it up as a learning experience.  Hopefully, for Leah, it will be a lovely summer dressing option and will get lots of wear.

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Happy early birthday to me!

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On Friday afternoon, an email popped up in my inbox from Loop.  Those of you who pay attention to my ramblings will know that Loop is my favorite yarn store.  All other things in London, which are many and spectacular, are excuses for a trip to Loop.  In fact, all of the fabulousness which is London is centered on Loop, from which it then extends like a ripple in a pond.

This email announced a Celebration Flash Sale!  Loop had just received their 20,000th follower on Instagram and had declared a sale to celebrate.  And not just any old sale – everything purchased on the weekend, both in-shop and on-line, was 20% off!  Be still my heart!

It just so happens that my birthday is in a few weeks.  What you may not know is that for many years, I have sent Doug an email each year shortly before my birthday with a link to a wooden swift and a ball winder. This is what is frequently referred to as a “hint”.  Doug may be the smartest man I’ve ever met (and believe me, I’ve met some pretty smart men) but he has somehow failed, year on end, to respond to such hint in an appropriate manner.

“Doug,” I said,  as I pushed the Submit Order button, “Loop is having a 20% off sale this weekend, and you are getting me a wooden umbrella swift and a ball winder for my birthday.”  This is what is frequently referred to as a “strategic response to hint failure”.   This is one of those things you learn in an MBA programme.

My birthday is not for 3 weeks (so for all intents and purposes I am still 54), but my birthday present arrived in the post today!

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I can’t believe it!  I have an umbrella swift and ball winder!  “Doug,” I shouted, “it’s just what I always wanted!  How did you guess?”

If I had been more organised, I would have ordered a few SQs (Sweater Quantity) of yarn to take advantage of the sale.  I didn’t have time to figure out what I wanted, however, so instead decided to order two yarns which I have been longing to sample.  The first is Woolfolk Tynd (a plied fingering-weight wool) in the colour Darkest Bronze.  This yarn is so soft it must be felt to be appreciated.  I am in love!  I bought two skeins to make Doug a cowl.  (He deserves a cowl for his thoughtful birthday gift to me!)  The second is Shibui’s Silk Cloud, an absolutely luscious silk-mohair blend.  I bought one skein in Tango 2037 to make a lacy cowl for myself.

Happy Early Birthday to me! I couldn’t wait and set the swift up immediately on the back porch.  Look how beautifully the yarn winds onto the cake:

 

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This is so much fun!  I promptly caked two skeins of Shelter for the Tinder cardigan I am knitting for Emma (which is coming along very nicely).  Don’t these cakes look fabulous?

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You can see in the photo what remains of the ball currently on the needles; it was wound by me, by hand, with Doug holding the skein.  I have been winding yarn this way for many years.  It must be said that Doug and Emma and Leah are all amazingly tolerant of this occupation (holding yarn for me while I wind) and are all quite good at it too, anticipating my every move and making the whole process fun.  However, with the girls gone and Doug on the road a lot, I am frequently on my own.  Never fear, I can now wind yarn whenever I want!

Doug tells me that I should have titled this post “Doug finds himself no longer relevant.” Ha!  Who else will make me coffee in the morning?

The Martian and the Thames

Having come to some conclusions regarding the Tinder cardigan I am knitting for Emma (such as what size to knit, what colour to use, and how much ribbing it needs), I started knitting in earnest.  And this baby is coming along fast:

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This is even with having at first knit 5″ of ribbing (compared to the 4.5 inches called for in the pattern) then knitting a further three inches of pattern before deciding to rip down to the ribbing and add more.  For those of you who enjoyed my last post, you may find it humorous to note that I made this decision after re-reading  my conversation with Emma for the third time, having an “A-ha! moment”, and deciding I need 6 inches of ribbing.

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Why am I cracking along on this cardigan?  Well, a good deal of it has to do with The Martian.  I have been listening to the audiobook while I knit, and the story is absolutely riveting.  I have not read the book (by Andy Weir), nor seen the movie, but I am so glad that I started with the audiobook because R. C. Bray is fantastic at narrating this book!  It may be the best combination of book and narrator that I have ever heard.  It is so compelling that I am at risk of having a flare-up of my wrist problems because I don’t want to stop listening.  (You see I have a deal with myself: I listen to audiobooks while knitting, and only while knitting.  I started this in order to address my conflict between knitting and reading.  I could easily read 10 hours a day, if possible, and then where would my knitting be?)

Another possible reason for the cracking speed at which I am knitting this, has to do with the glorious weather we have been having here.  (I say this having adopted an English perspective – we have had a handful of absolutely fantastic summer days here, each followed by a few days of the normal grey and cloudy summer weather.  English weather is not the best, but when you do get a good day, it is a winner.)  I have been taking advantage of the weather to sit outside, and usually have my knitting at hand.  We have the good fortune of living in beautiful South Oxfordshire, where the Thames meanders through some spectacular lush green countryside and picture-perfect villages.  On Friday evening we joined some friends for a picnic on the riverside in Henley-on-Thames.  One of them owns a boat and we went for a lovely ride up and down the river.  Doug got to drive!

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Henley-on-Thames is a rowing town, famous for its Regatta, but also as being the home and training ground of many world-class rowers.  The Leander Club, on the banks of the river, is the most successful rowing club in the world.  A few days ago, as we walked through the village, I noticed the sign on the club: “111 Olympic medals and counting!”  As we past by the club in our boat on Friday evening, this is what we saw:

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113!  I think that by now the number has likely gone up again!

This is a lovely river to live by, and a lovely river to boat on.  Here’s wishing you some beautiful weather and good knitting!

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How long is your hand? (The non-Trump edition)

Conversations with Emma about a sweater.

Subtitled: “in which things move from the ordinary to the ridiculous”

Alternatively subtitled: “do I have to send her to a doctor?”

July 27th:

Emma (via email): “On a related note, while searching, I found this tweed pattern which I absolutely love. I feel like its far too complicated for me to start out with, but if you felt like making me something, I’d get a lot of wear out of it. Maybe this would be a moss green opportunity (though I really do like the brick colour). Let me know what you think. [Links to Tinder by Jared Flood; see photo below.] (As usual, I still have some potential modification suggestions…)”

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

Emma (via email): “Thinking on this a little more, I am really quite taken with the sweater. If you felt like doing it there are two lovely colorways in shelter – birdbook and artifact. I think either one would look really great!”

Kelly (via email): “Hi Emma, by amazing coincidence I am going to Loop this evening for knit night. I would need to buy 9 skeins of shelter for Tinder (I think I would make the second size – it should have 2″ of ease – the pattern says 8 but you have long arms so I would buy 9 to be sure). I kind of think I like artifact better, but they only have 6 skeins. I will look at the birdbook and see what I think. I am worried that it will be more brash than mossy but will have to see IRL. I think the sweater would also be lovely in wool socks or in artifact, both of which are in stock. I will check out the shelter today.”

Kelly (via email): “I bought the birdbook. I looked at the three greens they have in shelter – tent, bird book and artifact – and decided that bird book is really the only one I liked. The artifact is very gloomy, with blue undertones and the tent is just weird.”

Emma (via text): “Yeah I didn’t like tent very much, and that’s exactly what I had been thinking about the difference between bird book and artifact. Yay!🙂 I still want to run some ideas about the bottom by you (basically I think there’s too much ribbing at the bottom but I still like the length). At work now, I’ll call you tomorrow if I don’t get off until late xoxo”

Kelly (via text): “i am happy you picked out a sweater for me to knit. i like knitting things for you. have fun at work. talk tomorrow.”

August 2nd:

Kelly (via email): “Did you read my post?”

Emma (via email): “I didn’t realise it had my swatch in it!! I love it!! You haz zee go ahead!!”

Kelly (via email): “sorry. i want clarification here. are you giving me the go-ahead to knit your sweater with this yarn? you don’t feel as if you need me to mail you the sample first? (I would love to start it today as I am projectless, but I really don’t want you to decide you don’t like it later. I can always find something else to knit…..) the photo on the blog is what it looks like outside in natural light. it is slightly darker and more olive-y inside and in the evening. let me know.”

August 5th:

Emma (via email): “did you start the tinder sweater already? i just searched for projects done in artifact and some of them are really quite lovely. just have a look and tell me what you think. it’s hard to tell the difference between the green qualities”

Kelly (via email): “Hey Chica, I already started it. I really did not like the artifact when I saw it in the shop. But I can put a hold on it and send you the sample.”

Kelly (via email): “hi em, i had decided to order a skein of artifact and knit up a swatch and then send you both swatches to decide between. it turns out that loop only has 5 skeins in stock (and I need 9). I can go ahead and do that anyway, and then if you decide on the artifact, i will have to wait until they get a new shipment, but there is probably one due in the early fall. i am willing to do that if you want. I have only just finished the ribbing on the bottom back and have still only used one skein of yarn.”

August 8th:

Kelly and Emma (via phone!!!)

[30 minutes of discussion on how difficult it is to rely on the colours on the computer screen and exactly what shade of green Birdbook is; this is a little like trying to describe the taste of a bottle of wine: “it is really foresty, but with a smidgeon of grass, and some berry thrown in for good measure”]

Kelly: “Hey Em, I figured out something. I will send you a photo of the Tinder swatch using Birdbook, next to the left-over ball of green from your Carnaby skirt. Since you know the shade of the skirt, then you can compare the two colours and the computer screen will cease to be an issue.”

Emma: “That’s a great idea!”

Kelly: (via email): “hey chica, i looked through about 47 bags of yarn to find a left-over ball from carnaby. success! just took a photo of it next to the birdbook swatch and hopefully mailed it to you from my phone. this is mailed straight, without any colour touch-ups. seeing them next to each other makes me more convinced this is what you want. i was afraid that the birdbook would be too bright, but compared to the carnaby it is much richer, darker, with more olive and moss tones, while still being much more green than artifact. if you like it, that is good, because i am going crazy with nothing to knit. (but, still, if you aren’t sure just tell me – its not like i don’t have any yarn on hand.)”

[Note: Below is a photo of Emma’s Carnaby skirt, and the photo of the yarn next to swatch in BT Shelter in Birdbook.]

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Emma (via email): “Perfect! You may proceed!”

Kelly (via email): “wow! that was fast! OK – full steam ahead!”

Later that day:

Kelly and Emma (via phone!):

Emma: “We need to have a discussion about the length for Tinder.”

Kelly: “What about the length?”

Emma: “Well, I want the pattern stitch to go to right at my hip bones, and then the ribbing should stop just at the point where my fingers hit when I am standing with my arms down.”

Kelly: “What do you mean? The sweater is designed so that the length of the arms is identical to the lengths of the body; they are coordinated. The ribbing is the same length for both. It should be long and come past your wrists and down over the base of your thumb. You can always roll them up. But part of what makes the sweater great is the coordination between the sleeves and the body.”

Emma: “Yes, but we both already know my arms are longer than most. If we are making the sleeves longer anyway, and trying to mimic the proportions on the model photo, the ribbing has to be longer!”

Kelly: “Ok, yes that makes sense.”

Emma: “How long is it now?”

Kelly: “It’s at what the pattern asked for – just over 4 inches.”

Emma: “Really? It doesn’t look like that in the photo…. Ok, I don’t have a measuring tape, but when I was looking at home I decided the ribbing should be about the length of my phone. How long is your phone?”

Kelly: “I don’t know. We don’t have the same phone though.”

Emma: “True. Darn. Ok, well my phone is just under the length of my hand. Your hands are a little smaller than mine right? So like, the length from the tip of your middle finger to the base of your hand. That should be the length. Right? How long is that? Do you have a tape measure?”

Kelly: “Give me a minute….That’s about 6 inches! That’s pretty long for the rib. But you’re right, the picture looks much longer than 4 inches.”

Emma: “That’s what I thought!”

Kelly: “Don’t worry; I think I know exactly how long to make this thing.”

Emma: “Just remember, the pattern stitch has to start just below my hip bones, but I’m long in both the legs and the waist. So proportionally the pattern is supposed to hit about a third of the way down my thigh. But four inches on me would only hit quarter thigh! The sweater is supposed to look intentionally long, not like an unfortunately slightly-too-long sweater. So rib from just above mid thigh to just below hip, and pattern stitch from just below hip up. Right? So, hand-length rib.”

Kelly: “Now I’m confused. What you want is for the pattern part to be long as a whole? So that the pattern hits the hip right.”

Emma: “Wait no. Now I’m confused. I think we’re saying different things. I don’t have a tape measure so this is confusing. It just has to hit just right at the hip.”

Kelly: “Ok let’s go back a step. The pattern calls for 18″ from arm hole to base. With 4 inches of ribbing, that makes 14 inches of pattern… That’s shorter than I would knit a normal sweater for you that hits at the hip! I see now; that’s too short. So, really I just need to knit more of the pattern stitch and not more of the rib.”

Emma: “Yes. That’s right. But knit more of the rib anyway. Four inches is just weird. We want intentional ribbing, not oops-we-were-watching-tv-and-knit-too-much-ribbing-and-didn’t-want-to-rip ribbing.”

Kelly: “Got it.”

August 9th:

Kelly (via phone): “I think i will have to re-knit the ribbing. I checked the gauge on the pattern stitch and hit it with a size 8. The pattern says to knit the ribbing with a needle two sizes smaller than gauge needle, so I knit it with a 6, but it seems kind of narrow. I have had this problem with other Brooklyn Tweed patterns. In fact, I once wrote to Brooklyn Tweed pattern support, during the Super Bowl, to ask how I was supposed to get the same gauge knitting 2×2 ribbing with a small needle as I do knitting stockinette with a two-sizes-larger needle. And they wrote back to me, DURING THE SUPER BOWL, to say, basically, and I paraphrase here, “Block the s**t out of it!”

Emma: “Well, ok, that’s sounds fine I guess? I trust your knitting instincts though either way.”

August 10th:

Kelly (via email): “By the way, I decided that the ribbing was ok that I had already knit. I looked at a lot of the Tinders on Ravelry and decided that it only looks good when it is long and lean. So I don’t want to err on the side of too wide. Thus, I have gone ahead and already have 7 inches of the back knit. Woo hoo! It also looks as if I should knit the sleeves a size smaller (but not in terms of length) because many people mention that the sleeves are too wide).”

Emma (via email): “what do you mean about too wide? i thought width was never an issue, just the length of the ribbing? so is it still 4″ of rib?”

Kelly (via email): “No, it’s not too wide. I made the ribbing just over 5″ long. It looks good. But, once blocked, it should be about 20″ wide and it’s not that wide. I was going to switch to a bigger needle and knit it again so it would be a bit wider, but decided that it was going to loosen up a bit when washed. And I would rather err on long and lean than on wide.”

Emma (via email): “yeah also it’s not the kind of sweater i’d wear buttoned up all the time!”

Kelly (via email): “exactly!”

Emma (via email): “WAIT 20″?!? Is that with ease?? because my ass is 38″ in circumference…..”

Emma (via email): “like I agree it will loosen when washed, but is 20″ even enough??”

Kelly (via email): “Ok, maybe I should start over, cause it’s about 14 inches wide without blocking. Look at the schematics on the pattern. I was aiming for the second size ( the 34) so the back is supposed to be 20 across the bottom and 17 and a bit at the chest. Let me know if the schematics seem right to you.”

Emma (via email): “omg i’m an idiot. In my mind everything you knit for me is in one piece. So i thought it was going to be 20 inches in total. but there’s two front pieces. its going to be totally fine I’m just a moron”

Kelly (via email): Ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Emma (via email): “i was busy thinking, “how on earth does mom think 20 inches would be wide enough for the bottom of the sweater??? do i have to send her to a doctor??? who wrote this pattern?????”

…to be continued….

Pattern Radar – August 2016

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a Pattern Radar post.  Mostly this is because the last stages of finishing the MBA exhausted me and I’ve been recovering slowly.  The second, and perhaps related, issue is that I have a bit of knitting burn-out.  This means that patterns just aren’t reaching out to grab me – there seem to be too many patterns coming out all of the time, and my knitting mojo is low (see my post on Pattern Bombardment Syndrome here).

That is not to say that there have not been some lovely patterns out lately.  Here is my selection of the ones which really caught my eye.  We will start with publications, both books and knitting magazines.  The one which blew me away is Kyle Kunnecke’s Urban Knit Collection.  I don’t believe it has been released yet in print, though Kyle has put up all of the pattern pages on Ravelry in order to whet our appetites. I pre-ordered the book instantly; something I rarely do these days. There are so many great patterns that it is hard to choose, but my favorite of the collection is Savoy.  Here are front and back views. This one is definitely on my to-do list.

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© 2016 Interweave

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© 2016 Interweave

I think that Kyle is an incredibly inventive designer.  Here is another one from this collection, the men’s pullover Brandt, which is knit in one of my favorite yarns, Rowan Felted Tweed:

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© 2016 Interweave

Kate Davies also published her book on Haps.  As usual, I like Kate’s writing and historical research as much as the patterns.  In this book, unlike her earlier ones, she has collaborated with a number of designers.  My favorite is the Nut-Hap, designed by Jen Arnall-Culliford; I think it is a really clever design:

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© Kate Davies Designs

The Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2016 edition came out a few weeks ago, and I really loved two of the patterns.  First, the #3 Mock Turtleneck Shell by Melissa Leapman.  What is not to like about this?  I would make it in red – really rich red.

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© SoHo Publishing

The #22 Hooded Cable Vest by Yoko Hatta also appeals.  This has really classy lines but still a touch of fun.  I can imagine wearing this all the time:

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© SoHo Publishing

 

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© SoHo Publishing

I used to have a subscription to Interweave Knits, but for a long time it went downhill (so I thought) and I cancelled my subscription.  Lately, it seems to be getting stronger. I tried to pick just one favorite from this edition, but couldn’t do it, so will show you two.  I am always interested in men’s patterns, and I have been searching for good men’s vest patterns (more on this in a later post), so I was extremely pleased to see the Fall River Vest by Mary Jane Mucklestone.  I love it!

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© Interweave Knits 2016

I have featured Linda Marveng in a previous Pattern Radar post.  She continues to churn out some impressive patterns.  Her contribution to Interweave Knits is a very chic piece, the Kathe Cardigan.  I like it more every time I look at it.

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© Interweave Knits 2016

(I was planning on also featuring another Linda Marveng design, a gorgeous reversible tunic called Hel, but just realised that it is still being test knit and hasn’t been released yet. This means that there is lots of good stuff still to come from Linda’s desk, so stay tuned.)

I had never heard of Gudrun Georges when I saw her design, the Amy Polo.  I will certainly put her on radar now.  I love this sport-weight polo, which is both classic and cute and has great details:

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© Gudrun Georges

Baby sweaters don’t normally catch my eye; perhaps now that I’ve knit one again, they have been raised a bit in my consciousness.  I really like Conifer, by Ella Austin, otherwise known as BomBella:

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© Emma Solley

I have been noticing many beautiful Nordic designs and designers lately.  I was struck by the design, Superfritt etter Fana by Sidsel J. Høivik.  This pattern is apparently available in kit form from her website.  I was not familiar with Sidsel’s work, but will keep an eye on her.  Oslo seems to be a very happening place for knitting design.

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© Sidsel J. Høivik

This seems like a very short Pattern Radar post to me.   I think once my knitting mojo comes back full force, and the fall sets in, I will once again get overwhelmed by new patterns.  In the meantime, these gorgeous designs are enough to keep your needles busy for a long time.

 

Colour fail

It is sadly true that ordering yarn over the internet, based on how it looks on your computer screen, is a gamble.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.  Having just finished up two sweaters (the adorable baby sweater blogged here and the beautiful cardigan for Leah which I will highlight next weekend), I needed to cast-on a new project. I have wanted to  try Sparrow, the 100% linen yarn from Quince & Co. for quite some time. I have also been enjoying the linen tee shirt Sel Gris by Claudia Eisenkolb which I knit last August, and I have had my eye on another linen tee from her linen collection, Pimenton. Here is the pattern photo of Pimenton, which uses three colours of Sparrow linen:

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© Claudia Eisenkolb

 

I believed this would be a quick knit and would produce a comfortable linen top which could be dressed up or down and thrown in the dryer to boot.  I spent a very long time looking at the available shades of Sparrow on my laptop, and ended up ordering Citron for the main colour and Maize and Pink Grapefruit for the contrast colours.  In my head, I was envisioning a zesty lime green, a vibrant yellow and a orange-y shade of pink.  What I got was very muted, pastel-y, desert tones, with a very pink “pink grapefruit” (you think I could have guessed from the name), a soft buttery yellow and a barely distinguishable (from the yellow) slightly green-tinged yellow.

Being someone who could live with denial (and having nothing else to knit at the time) I cast-on in the somewhat misguided belief that they would somehow transform themselves on the needle.  The pink continued to be pink:

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Adding the yellow did not help:

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Here you can see it alongside the swatch, which I knit in the green, which is supposed to form the body of the pullover.

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(These photos are proof of the inexact and fickle nature of colours on screen – none of these photos captures the shades properly; the yellow is closest in the middle photo, the pink in the last photo, and the green is actually much more muted and yellow-y than shown above).  This seriously wasn’t doing anything for me, though I continued to press ahead, firmly in denial-land.  It is not that these colours are not pretty in their way; it is just that they are definitely not “me”.  My friend Inge, not known for mincing words, saw me knitting it this weekend and said “Kelly, those colours are vile on you!”

The interesting and sad part of this story is that I originally ordered them over the internet because I believed that I would not have an opportunity to get into London to the yarn shop for a few weeks.  As chance would have it, I was in London on business a few days ago, and was able to make a very brief foray into Loop.  There, I saw a basket full of Sparrow linen, and I have to tell you that Sparrow comes in the most luscious, glorious shades.  I ended up buying six of them just because I couldn’t resist.

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These colours are so spectacular!  I couldn’t believe it: I loved every colour but the three which I ordered!  Major colour fail!

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I have decided to frog the Pimenton (perhaps to try again next summer), and I have not yet decided what to do with the six new shades.

In other colour news, just as I was leaving the house to rush into London, I received an email from Emma with a request for a sweater!  How serendipitous!  This was justification enough for a yarn-shopping detour in the city.  Emma wants me to knit her Tinder, a cardigan designed by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed:

 

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© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

I have always liked this cardigan and am happy to knit it for her.  She asked for a mossy green.  They had three greens in Shelter (Brooklyn Tweed’s worsted weight yarn): Tent, which I deemed too blue; Artifact, which I thought was too gloomy, and Birdbook, which is very olive.  I bought the Birdbook, which is really an army green shade, but since it is tweed, has bits of brighter tones – blues and reds and yellows.  I whipped up a swatch last night, and am all good to go, but I can’t stop fretting about the colour.  I really want to make sure that it is exactly what Emma wants before I knit it up (daughters can be very exacting)! I took a photo of the swatch, which shows off both the ribbing and the pretty pattern stitch: here it is, Emma!

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But, of course, a problem remains; in fact the very problem I stated at the start of this post. It is nigh impossible to guarantee the colour you see on your screen compares to the colour in real life.  So, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that my best option is to send the swatch to Emma and let her make up her mind.

This means, sadly, that I am back where I started a week ago – with nothing on my needles!  Boo hoo.

What the best dressed baby is wearing: the urbane hipster edition

Those who know me will tell you that I rarely knit for babies.  Even when my own girls were little, they rarely benefited from the fruits of my knitting needles.  In the nearly five years that I have been writing this blog, I haven’t knit a baby sweater. Until now.

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I have some friends who have just had their first baby. These friends are special, and thus obviously so is the babe. Clearly he deserved a bit of stylish hand-knitting intervention. I perused baby patterns for quite some time. With Doug’s help, I finally decided on the pattern called gramps, designed by Alexa Ludeman and Emily Wessel, the duo otherwise known as Tin Can Knits. Here is their delightful version:

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© Tin Can Knits

 

I made a trip into London to my favorite yarn store, Loop, in Islington (which also necessitates buying cakes at Ottolenghi – poor me! how I suffer for my knitting!). I spent a very long time trying to choose the perfect colours of Madelinetosh Vintage, which we all know is a very luxurious hand-dyed worsted weight wool. I purchased two beautiful skeins: Turquoise, which to my eye is more a forest-y green/blue than an ocean-y green/blue (to use sophisticated colour terminology) and Pecan Hull, which is a lovely but difficult to photograph brown.

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I bought the yarn without purchasing the pattern first (or even looking at the yardage stats on Ravelry). I bought one skein of each colour – after all, this is a sweater for a baby; how much yarn could you possible need? Imagine my consternation to discover that in the 6-12 month size, this little sweater eats up 260 yards of the Main Colour and 140 yards of the Contrast Colour. A skein of Madelinetosh Vintage is 200 yards.  Whoops!  (Even in the newborn size, I would have needed 240 yards of the Main Colour.)

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Luckily, we knitters have a solution to problems like this: it is called MATH!!!!  Yes, dear readers, I engaged in a bit of “Pattern Math Fu” to re-design the sweater.  Note that the original pattern calls for a total of 400 yards of yarn.  Note further that I had 400 yards of yarn.  All I had to do was change the pattern sufficiently so that it had a more equal distribution of the colours.  This, I must admit, was rather fun, and I think the end product is completely lovely in every way.

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I followed all of the instructions for the 6-12 month size exactly, except that I omitted the pockets and elbow pads, and added in seven sets of 2-row stripes on the body and sleeves of the sweater.  Here you can see the yarn that remains:

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I had so much fun knitting this little sweater.  We actually had a week of decent summery weather (egads!) and I enjoyed the chance to knit in the back garden while listening to a good book.

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Photos don’t do this sweater justice.  It is absolutely fabulous. It is the perfect sweater for the urbane hipster baby to wear while sitting at his favorite coffee shop charming all the passersby.

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This pattern also comes in adult sizes.  Resistance is futile.