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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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/yarn mis-match: solution!

How do you solve a mis-match between pattern and yarn?

Here’s how:

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As you may recall, I was having some troubles with my latest project.  I had picked a pattern for a pretty little summer t-shirt; the Sunbird Top by Quenna Lee.

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I had paired it with Carol Feller’s yarn, Nua, a rustic blend of wool, linen, and yak.  I had nearly finished knitting it when I finally succumbed to the niggling doubts that had pursued me from the beginning: I like the pattern, I loved the yarn, but they were not a match made in heaven.  The main issue was simply that the Nua is too substantial a yarn for this project.  Even though I hit the gauge exactly, the yarn was too heavy to drape properly for this t-shirt, and, let’s face it: it knits up much too warm for a summer top.

I pointed out two other problems in my post outlining my difficulties with the project.  First, the bottom edge was curling up, more than I thought would be fixed by a good blocking, and second, I hated the top-down cap sleeves, which were puckered and terribly annoying to knit:

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Clearly, this yarn was not going to work with this pattern.  However, I was reluctant to rip the whole thing out so I started thinking about ways to rescue it by re-conceptualising it as a fall sweater.  Here’s what I did.

Buy some more yarn

This one made me laugh.  I pushed the button to buy the yarn just minutes before I saw the comment left on my blog post by Lorenza: “Three words: sunk cost bias…”  Yes, exactly!  So, let’s solve this by throwing even more cash at it!  My idea, however, was to turn this into a fall sweater with long sleeves which means I needed more yarn.  Since I didn’t want to try to track down the right dye lot, I decided to buy a different shade and make a colour block sweater.  I was going to go for a gold colour, but Doug convinced me to buy this olive green, which I adore.  Isn’t it a fantastic mix?

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Doug said it would look like the colour transitions you get on the ocean when the depth changes, and he was right.  It reminds us of the greens and blues we saw last summer on our holiday around Vancouver Island.

Rip out the bottom 6 inches of the sweater, and re-knit with the green.

Not only did I want the sweater to have a contrasting deep border of green, but I decided right away that I didn’t want the curved edging of the Sunbird Top.  It didn’t work well in this yarn, but also it wasn’t fitting into my mental concept of what I was hoping to accomplish.  So, after ripping out a chunk of the bottom, I knit it down straight, keeping the lace on the sides, and then finishing with 6 rows of garter stitch (3 garter ridges) at the hem, to repeat the garter ridges above the chest on the original pattern.  Not only would this tie in the new design with the old, but it would (I hoped) get rid of the curling problem on the edge.  I think it turned out great.

Match the neckline finishing to the edging.

The 6 rows of garter I added to the hemline gave it a very nice finished look.  I decided to add the same around the neckline.  Not only did  it tie all of the elements together, but it raised the neckline a crucial half inch, which matters now that the sweater is a warmer-weight fall sweater instead of a breezy summer top.

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Make long sleeves.

I absolutely hated knitting the original sleeves top down.  I don’t mind seaming either so the obvious thing was to knit these bottom up, flat, and then seam and set in to the shoulders.  I worried a little, since I was knitting bottom up, about getting the line matched up where the blue switches over to the green, but think I planned it out perfectly:

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For those who like to know these details, the sweater measures 11.5″ from the underarm to the bottom of the blue; the green is then another 5″.  For the sleeves, I knit 6.5″ of green, and then switched to the blue for another 11.5″ before starting the underarm decreases. I do think that it stretched a bit when I washed it (gaining just under an inch in length), but it seems to have stretched evenly, as the colour transition still lines up perfectly.

I had to re-knit the sleeve cap three times before it fit properly.  The first time, I even set it in, but the armscythe felt tight and bunchy, so I ripped the seam out, and started the cap over.  I do think that the seam looks pretty good and that the cap fits much better than the original cap I was knitting top down.  If you recall, when I knit the body of the garment, I started with a larger size across the top (a 46″) and then switched to a 43 at the underarms.  This was definitely the wrong choice, and if I was being totally picky, I should have ripped the whole thing out and started again to make the shoulders narrower.  Although I think this sleeve fits pretty well, I do feel it would be a better fit at the shoulders if it were an inch narrower at each side.

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While I still have a few niggles with this, all-in-all I think it is a pretty good save!  The Nua washes up great, it has a lovely silky feel to it and feels fantastic next to the skin.  It is warmer than it looks (due to the yak, I suspect), while the linen makes for a rustic look and adds depth to the colour variation (the linen doesn’t pick up the dye in the same way as the wool).  I have switched this on Ravelry from a Sunbird project to a “incorporates Sunbird” project, and have re-named it Ocean Waters.

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Now, as often happens, I’ve knit a fall sweater just as summer kicks in!

On Form

I finished knitting my “form” pullover and I love it!  It is fantastic!

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I love everything about this sweater.  It is comfortable, wearable, light as a feather, RED, stylish, shapely, and, oh yes, RED!  What is not to love?

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The pattern, designed by Lori Versaci, is beautiful.  I had some trouble at the start figuring out how to put together the neck bands (which I blogged about here).  Lori very kindly responded to my email with a couple of photos, which helped explain the process.  Once I got that sorted out, however, and got on my way, this sweater practically knitted itself.  I am a pretty slow knitter, and this took me just under 4 weeks – and for two of those, I was practically catatonic with flu and didn’t manage to knit much at all.

The pattern has two length options and two sleeve length options.  I choose the longer length and the longer sleeve length.  I think the look is very 1960s. I have a collection of Vogue Knitting magazines from the 1960s and many of the sweaters had this kind of a feel to them.

The boat neck collar is one of the cool features of this sweater.  Here is a peak at the shoulder:

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Other things I love about this are the compound raglan sleeves which are perfectly formed; the armhole depth is perfect, allowing me to move comfortably and naturally and without feeling constricted.  The sleeves are roomy but in a way which I think looks chic rather than loose.  The A-line shaping in the body is lovely; and the positioning of the increases makes it drape so nicely.  Really, I love everything about this pullover.

I don’t have a lot of detail shots, because I am recovering from a bad flu; I gave Doug just 5 minutes to take some photos before I came back inside and collapsed by the fire.  It is, however, lovely in every way.  (It is also unblocked!  And I don’t think it needs any blocking.)

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I followed the pattern, EXACTLY, except for two small details: I used German short rows, and I did not do the tubular cast-on or cast-off.  I used my standard, every day cast-on and cast-off.  Why?  Three reasons:

  1. I am lazy.
  2. I didn’t think it would really matter much given the mohair which makes for a fuzzy edge in any case.
  3. I am lazy.

I knit this holding two strands of yarn together.  The first is Isager Spinni, a light fingeringweight 100% wool in Red, and the second is Shibui Silk Cloud, a laceweight mohair and silk blend in the colour Tango.  I used less than 3.5 skeins of each, which means the whole sweater weighs about 270 grams.  Like wearing a cloud!

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I knit it with a US7 needle, which resulted in a gauge of 21×30.  The pattern calls for 20×32.  Lori has two samples on the pattern page – one is knit with 4″ of positive ease and the other with no ease.  I was hoping for something in the middle, around 2″ of ease.  I could knit a size 42, giving me 1/2″ of ease, or a 46, giving me 4 1/2″ inches.  Given that my gauge was a bit off, I knit the size 46 and ended up with 44″ across the chest, a perfect 2 1/2″ of ease.

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Because I am sick, I haven’t taken the time to dress it up for the photos, but this will be a fantastic work garment, and will also dress up nicely.  (The best I could manage today  was a pop of red lipstick and a fantastic coat!)

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It has been a long time since I have knit the same sweater twice, but I am already dreaming of another “form”!

Offbeat

I’ve just remembered that I haven’t yet posted photos of my Offbeat mitts.

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I am really happy with these.  The pattern was designed by Anna Elliott.  I have wanted to make them since I first saw them on Kate Davies blog here (they were designed to be  knit with Kate’s yarn, Buachaille).  There is a matching hat design, but it is the mitts which really captured my attention.  Aren’t they pretty?

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They were not the easiest mitts for me to knit; the problem arising not from the very well-written pattern but rather from my lack of skills in stranded knitting on DPNs, which I discussed in this previous post.

I noted in that post that blocking produced miraculous results.  As proof, I present the below photo, showing a blocked mitt on the left, and the rather pathetic-looking unblocked mitt on the right.

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The moral of this photo is to persevere; knitting is a very forgiving sport!

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(If you are interested in the sweater I am wearing here and in the top photo, it is the Leyfi sweater designed by Romi Hill and blogged here.)

I knit the Offbeat mitts in Buachaille – which is a lovely yarn that becomes even more lovely with each time you wear it.  The mitts are surprisingly soft, warm, and cosy.  I took them out for a walk a few weeks ago:

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I like this photo because it shows me wearing three mis-matched hand-knits, which manage nonetheless to look great together: the Offbeat mitts, my Peerie Flooers hat, and my gold Cabled-rib shawl.

For the knitting purists out there, here is the obligatory shot of the reverse side.

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I highly recommend this pattern.  And if you have a chance, you should knit them in Buachaille.  It makes for lovely mitts.  (This is my third pair of mitts in this yarn.)  It is hard to describe how lofty and sheep-y the yarn is, and how nice it feels on the needles.  And look at how the colours glow in the sunshine:

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I have come down with a flu bug.  My prescription?  Watch the Olympics and knit.  Sleep.  Repeat.

Home run for homespun!

Do you ever wonder what to do with little odds and ends of homespun yarn?

In the fall of 2016, Doug and I spent a few days in Wales (blogged about here) and included a stop at The Lost Sheep Company in Colwyn Bay.  There, in addition to chatting with its charismatic owner, Chrissy, and wading through waist high bundles of fleeces:

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We purchased four tiny skeins of homespun yarn from Welsh bred sheep.  In the below photo, the yarn on the left was un-labelled, followed left-to-right by Jacob, Welsh Mule, and Black Welsh Mountain.

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I had differing yardage of each yarn, and they were of different yarn weights.  I wondered for a long time what to do with them, and one night shortly after the New Year, I just picked up the first skein and started to knit.  I didn’t do any gauge swatches or fuss with measurements.  I didn’t do any math.  I cast on 180 stitches with a size US 11 needle and started to knit in 2×2 ribbing.  When I got to the end of one skein, I added another, and kept knitting until my yarn ran out.

As Doug was the one who picked out the yarn, I made the cowl for him.  I think it suits him well.

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It is amazingly plush and cozy, and has a fantastic hand.  With the exception of the small nups of colour in the un-labelled batch, it is all un-dyed. I hadn’t knit with handspun in some time, and really loved having it on my needles.

Emma was still here when I finished, and she had just finished knitting her own cowl (blogged here), so I tried to get a photo of the two of them.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to get Doug and Emma to cooperate and not be silly?

Photo attempt #7:

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Photo attempt #13:

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Photo attempt #312:

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Photo attempt #2,397:

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This is, of course a slight exaggeration, but they delight in being silly, especially when I am trying to get a photo for the blog.

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If you are trying to find a use for small bits of homespun yarn, I recommend this fun and easy solution.

The knitter’s guide to holiday enabling

For Christmas, I gave Emma a get-back-to-knitting kit.  Emma is a fantastic knitter, but suffers from lack of follow-through; her attention gets distracted by all of the other things she does well.  I had hoped that she might be tempted by having yarn and needles at hand.  My ploy seems to have worked:

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I purposely picked a project that could be finished quickly; Emma knitted it in a few days.  It is called the Cecilia Cowl.  The gift consisted of a photocopy of the pattern (it is a free pattern designed by Rachel Atkinson for Loop, which you can find here), a skein of Freia Super Bulky Ombre in the colour Nautilus, and a US size 17 circular knitting needle.  I had thought that I would be around to give a hand if needed, but Emma knit the whole thing on her own, mostly during the wee hours (she arrived Christmas Eve so was very jet-lagged).

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This is a great project for beginners – the pattern is easy but is also engaging enough to keep your interest.  Best of all, the constantly changing hues of the yarn make it hard to put the project down: it is a “just one more row” kind of project.

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Emma is flying back to Canada tomorrow, but I am hoping that her interest has been snagged enough for her to take advantage of all of the great knitting shops in Vancouver.  I am a great enabler, am I not?

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I hope that you have all had a lovely holiday, and enjoyed some relaxing knitting time.