The wind is in from Africa

It is cold and very windy here in the UK.  Yesterday I attended a graduation ceremony which took place in a large marquee and the wind was so strong I imagined the marquee blowing away like Dorothy’s house in the Wizard of Oz.

Today, I turned the heat on and wore a scarf and hat and coat, and talked with a raspy throat, and knew in my bones that autumn is here.

So, to cheer myself up, here is a clip from Crete, of another very windy day.  This was taken at sunset in Matala, which was immortalised by Joni Mitchell in her song “Carey”.  (If you have your sound on, the wind is very loud.)


My friend Jonathan took this clip; you can see me on the beach knitting, and then he pans around to the famous cliffs filled with many levels of caves, and then out across the water to where the sun is setting over some rocks (the Paximadia – two small islands off the coast). The caves were a famous hippie hangout in the 60s and Joni spent some time there.  You can find the words to Joni’s song here; if you scroll down to the notes, there are transcriptions of various introductions she has given to this song at concerts.  These are pretty interesting.

Today, we drove through the wind and rain and fog on the M4; I’d rather be knitting in Matala.

Stalled

“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

It is Saturday, it is quiet, the weather is fairly grey, I have no obligations and nothing demanding my attention (other than cleaning and laundry, which don’t count).  Today is a perfect day to sit and knit.

Furthermore, I am surrounded by knitting paraphernalia.  There is no shortage in my house of yarn, needles, pattern books, and haberdashery of all kinds.  Yet, despite being filled with a desire to knit, I cannot find any knitting project to work on now.  I have spent hours pouring through options to no avail. I don’t feel like working on any project that I have on the needles already and can’t make up my mind about casting on something new.

I think that I am overwhelmed by choice.  Yesterday, I had business in London and managed to stop by Loop.  I actually spent an hour trying to find something to buy!!!!  There I was in a fantastic yarn shop with two luscious floors of beautiful yarns and ideas galore, and nothing jumped out at me and said “Knit me now!”  I finally picked out a lovely kit for a cowl (the Tuli Cowl by Fiona Alice in Peony and Cafe Latte, pictured below).  However, I decided that I should wash the pink yarn before knitting so the colour doesn’t bleed, which means that this one is out of the running for something to knit today.

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And to be very truthful, even if I hadn’t washed the pink yarn, I’m not sure I would be casting this on today.  I am STALLED.  I don’t know whether to blame ennui, the start of my busy time at work, a persistant headache, the changing weather, or the paradox of choice.  I’m going to go with the last one, however, because it sounds cooler.

What are you working on this weekend?  Let me know so that I can live vicariously…

Sayer it with flowers: the Sayer tank in Crete

I finished the Sayer tank just in time for my holiday in Crete, and it is a perfect piece for this glorious place.

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Sayer is designed by Julie Hoover.  She is a designer I have admired for some time and I am happy to have finally knit one of her pieces.  She has a very simple, spare style, with easy shapes and loose, but well-tailored, fits.

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I knit this using Ito Kinu, which I purchased at Loop in London.  Here is its description from Loop’s website: “KINU is a 100% silk noil yarn, also called organic silk, as it is produced from the leftovers of spun filament silk. Differently colored fibers are blended for this silk noil yarn, to produce a melange effect.”  I used the shade Hydrangea, and it was knit with the yarn held double. It makes an excellent fabric, which is cool in the hot sun.

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I followed the pattern exactly.  It is all stockinette knitting and would be an easy piece for a beginner to knit.  I knit most of it while I was in Malaysia; it is a good project for travel knitting.   I thought about changing the edging because it didn’t feel or look right while I was knitting it, but once done I thought it was brilliant.

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The two photos above were taken at our B&B in Milatos (see below for details); the first is from our balcony looking out to the sea.

Here you can see the edging at the V-neck:

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This tank is designed to be reversible; you can wear it with the V-neck in front and the crew neck in the back (as in most of these photos) or you can wear it the other way, with the crew neck in the front and the V-neck in the back (as seen in the three photos below).

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These photos were taken in the evening at the harbour in Rethymno.  There is not much light but I think they show off the tank really well nonetheless.  The sun is so strong here that only photos taken in the early morning and early evening  work well.

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You can probably tell from these photos that I was having a really great time in Rethymno.  We are on holiday with our dear friends, Theo and Jonathan, and these evening photos were taken by Jonathan.  We were clearly having fun.

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Behind me is the harbour.  Just in front of me there is a lighthouse.  The harbour was filled with tourists taking photos of people with the lighthouse behind them; it is obviously a popular photo spot.  We bucked the trend and shot in the other direction!  All of the tourists were probably wondering why we were ignoring the obvious photo opp right in front of us.  (We aim to be different.)

Crete is full of flowers right now, many of which match my tank.  Doug took this photo in front of a doorway in Rethymno (and also provided the terrible pun in the title of this post):

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If you are interested in a very wearable, A-line tank, I would highly recommend this one.  It is well-designed, the pattern is well-written, and it is trouble-free knitting.  You can wear it for breakfast, for sight seeing or for an evening out on the town.  (Here I am sitting having breakfast at our lovely B&B hotel, the Milatos Village Cretan Agrotourism Hotel.  It is a wonderful place and the hosts, Kat and Alice, made us feel right at home!  The breakfast spread, by the way, is gorgeous and plentiful – I had not yet gotten started on it when Doug took this shot.)

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The photo at the top of the post was taken by Jonathan at the Arkady Monastery, which is so beautiful that no words can properly describe it.  If you have a chance, go see it.

Make this tank!  It will make you smile.  It may even make you laugh with joy!

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Back in rotation

Since I finished my pink tank (more on that next time) and I put my grey tank away pending decisions (to rip or not to rip), I found myself with a knitting gap that needed filling.  I fought the urge to cast on something entirely new and instead pulled out the Hanne Falkenberg jacket (Sofi) which has been patiently waiting for me to remember its existence.  I hadn’t worked on this in many months, but I managed in the space of a few days to finish the body of the jacket.

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I’ve done all of the patterned bits now.  What remains are the sleeves and all of the edgings around the fronts and the neck.  Since all of those parts will be knitted with the dark blue wool, I am now finished with the light blue linen yarn.  And very happily, once the shoulder seams were knitted together, I could try it on and see that it fits!

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I love the features in this jacket; Ms. Falkenberg has clearly thought out all the little details.  The way the pattern meets at the back and also at the sides of the jacket, the way the short rows work along the shoulder seams, everything is elegant and charming.

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I tried this on to gauge the fit, without trying to hide the loose ends or otherwise tidy it up for the photos.  But you can see that it will be a beauty once finished.

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Since the sleeves are knit on a US2 needle – in seed stitch!!!! – don’t expect me to be finishing it any time soon.  However, we all know that slow and steady wins the race.

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We’re off to Crete this weekend.  While there we will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary.  I’m pretty sure that lots of knitting will happen as well.

A question of fit

I am struggling with a fit question on the Paid in Full tank.  I have finished about 8 inches of this tank, which is knit in-the-round and bottom-up.  I did almost all of this while on my trip to Malaysia, during which I was too lazy to transfer the stitches to a super long needle and try it on.  In fact, because I was knitting it on a 24″ needle, I kept thinking it was on the small size, but was content with the fact that the lace would make it very stretchy.  I have now taken the opportunity to try it on, and to be honest, I am fretting about the fit.  I think it’s too big.

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It feels really loose.  I don’t think it looks terrible in the above photo, but I have already put in all of the waist shaping and there is still too much fabric around the waist.  Here is a different view:

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If you look at the pattern photos, the tank is not skin tight and does have some ease, particularly on the back view.  I really like the way this looks on Deb, where it clearly has a bit of ease but not too much.  (This is the tank as worn by Deb Hoss, the designer. She looks good in everything.)

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When I compare mine to Deb’s, I think mine looks a little bit big, but it feels VERY VERY BIG!  It is super stretchy, as you can see here:

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Below is a photo taken with a measuring tape.  For zero ease, I would need 42″ across the bust.  I am getting about 36″ on the un-stretched piece laid flat, measured just after the first set of waist decreases.  So, this piece shouldn’t be too far off.  Even allowing for a lot of stretch in the lace, it SHOULD fit.

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When I cast on, I had to choose between a size 38.5 or a 44.  The 38.5 would give me 3.5″ of negative ease, while the 44 would give 2″ of positive ease.  I went for the 44 and I think that was a bad choice.  However, 3.5″ seemed like a lot of negative ease.  I didn’t want to end up with something that was tight and thus didn’t get worn.

There is a moral here: when knitting in the round, try it on!  Try it on before you knit 8 inches!  Laziness is a terrible excuse!  Even if you are sitting on a fabulous beach on an island in the South China Sea while knitting it! (Note that the moral of the story should always be accompanied by exclamation points; the more the better.)

I now have a dilemma.  I can’t decide what to do, and so I am in limbo at the moment.  Here are my choices:

  1. Pretend everything is good and carry on.
  2. Rip out a couple of inches and add in more waist shaping.  I have 5 sets (20 stitches decreased), and I could possible make 8 sets (32 stitches decreased).
  3. Brace myself, rip the whole thing out, and start over.

Note that my options don’t include “Throw it in a basket and forget about it till next year.”  That is because I love this pattern and I love the yarn.  I want to have this tank in my wardrobe.  Help me, dear readers!  What to do?  I need some advice.

Adventures in 3Dknitting: the Ojai Top

Doug went to Vancouver last week and was able to take Emma her birthday surprise sweater.  (Given that her birthday is in May, it was definitely a surprise!)

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This is the Ojai Top, designed by Andrea Babb, which was published in Wool Studio: The Knitwear Capsule Collection from Interweave Press.  I knit it with Dye for Yarn Fingering Merino with Silk in the colour Fading Stormy Night.

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I finished knitting this before we went to Malaysia but was waiting to get modeled shots before showing it to you.  (It doesn’t look like much on a hangar!) I had worried throughout the construction about how it would look and fit once blocked.  I think we can safely say that I needn’t have worried.  It looks pretty great on Emma.

This is an interesting piece to knit.  The loops are actually three-dimensional, as you can see in the below photograph:

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As you start to build up the loops, the piece looks a bit of a mess; I referred to it as a Kraken in an earlier post.  You can read more about its construction and the beginning stages of knitting Ojai in these posts: here and here.  I struggled a bit when it came to ending off all of the threads (each loop has two threads to end off); what to do with the hole left in the fabric from creating the loop?  The trick is to not tack down the loop when weaving in the ends, but to sew the hole together in a way that reinforces the tunnel structure of the loops.

I had also worried about my choice of yarn.  First, because I substituted a yarn with 25% silk content.  When I was knitting it, it felt very unstructured and I was wishing that I had used a 100% wool yarn as indicated in the pattern.  But the real point of contention was the colour.  I ordered it over the internet, and when it arrived, it had more variegation in the skein than I thought it would.  I decided to use it anyway, with the hopes that the finished garment would be very drapey and look like flowing water.  It is interesting that Doug and Emma chose to photograph it next to a lake where it really does seem to flow like water.

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They had driven up to see a friend (hi, Jill!) who lives at Lilloet Lake, in British Columbia, and they took these photos there.  Beautiful, isn’t it?

I knit this in the small size.  When I washed it, it grew by a few inches, so I was very careful not to stretch it and didn’t pin it.  It is knit sideways so the extra length goes into the width (thus into the sleeve, which I think is good in this case as Emma is tall).  I do think that the short side is rather short.  If I knit it again I would think about adding some stitches to the cast on so that it gained a few inches in length. (Perhaps Emma would disagree?)

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Emma notes that the one armhole is a bit tight.  I originally sewed the side seam to the length indicated and then crocheted around the armhole as instructed (which allows the tubes to be tacked down properly at the armhole).  However, I felt that it was too tight, and re-did it so that there would be an extra 2 inches of circumference around the arm.  It could have used with an even more generous arm width and I may re-do it for her in future.  (This does not involve any re-knitting, but just making the side seam shorter.)

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I am very happy with how this turned out.  It is a striking piece and is sure to be a conversation starter.

Pattern Radar: Fly me to the moon

Here is a short and sweet Pattern Radar post.  Today, the Pom Pom Quarterly released their new issue (#26) with 11 patterns inspired by the moon and its phases.  And they are fantastic!  Look at this:

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© Amy Gwatkin

This is Ixchel by Catherine Clark.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  This is such a beauty.  I think it is a showstopper, and on top of that, it looks like it would be totally fun to knit.  Not convinced? How about this beauty?

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© Amy Gwatkin

I am a crazy fan of black and white knits and this one hits all of the right notes for me.  It is practically luminescent.  The design is Luna by Anna Strandberg.  I think it is so classy, with lovely architectural lines and a modern shape.  It makes my fingers itch to knit it!

I’ll show you one more, because I can’t resist:

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© Amy Gwatkin

This is Artemis by Esther Romo.  It is positively swoon-worthy.  It has been a long time since I’ve seen a collection with three designs that capture my attention so thoroughly.  (And while these are my favorites in the collection, it has 8 other great patterns!)

I can’t end without pointing out two things.  First, all three of these designers are new to me! And that makes me all kinds of happy.  Second, we see continued here the trend to use more diverse models in knitting pattern design.  I mentioned this in a recent post, and am very happy to see more and more designers and publications using models of all shapes, colours, and ages.  These beautiful models make me all kinds of happy, too.