Kelly 1, Yarn 0

Yesterday, I finished all of the knitting on my Hanne Falkenburg Sofi Combi jacket!

What’s left to do?

  1. Sew the underarm and sleeve seams.
  2. Fold over and sew down the front edgings.
  3. Fold over and sew down the neck edgings.
  4. Weave in threads.
  5. Wash and block.
  6. Wear!

Here is how much blue yarn I have left after finishing the knitting:


Yes, I have been playing a nail-biting game of yarn chicken over the last few weeks.  It was down to the wire with this one.  As it is, I will have to unravel my swatch to have enough yarn to do the sewing.  Final score: Kelly 1, Yarn 0.

Pattern Radar: I’ll have some texture with that, please

The patterns that have caught my eye this week have played around with texture.  I’ve been fascinated by colour and stranded knitting lately, but texture has always been my catnip.  Here are some designs which are doing good things with texture, from a little taste to allover patterning.

Olive Sweater by Jemima Bicknell:


© Jemima Bicknell

This sweater is from the book, Art Deco Knits: Creating a hand-knit wardrobe inspired by the 1920s – 1930s by Jemima Bicknell.  I love Art Deco, in architecture, in jewellery, and in fashion.  The cables on this pullover are just fantastic.  Set against the simple shape of the sweater, they pop!  It reminds me in equal parts of a beautiful art deco building I lived near in Potsdam, and of The Jetsons, a “futuristic” animated TV show from my youth.  (Now I’ve dated myself.)  I think this has a cute, vintage feel to it.

Shifting Sands Pullover by Norah Gaughan


© Norah Gaughan

I’m not surprised by this design making the list, since Norah Gaughan is the queen of texture.  The shape of this one is very simple; in fact it is rather shapeless and boxy (which happens to be big news in the knitting world right now).  But the asymetrical cables are mesmerising, as they shift and flow across the space.  If you’ve ever been in shifting sand, you can definitely see how this pullover got its name.

Nisaba by Asja Janeczek:


© Whiteberry

This cowl pattern has a rich, luscious texture.  It is named after the Sumerian goddess of grain and harvest and was inspired by memories of traipsing through grain fields.  This first attracted my attention with its gorgeous juxtaposition between the three dimensional, undulating cable patterns and the flat sections worked in garter stitch with short row shaping.  Having a daughter who studies ancient Sumerian, the name kept my attention focused.

Firenze by Irina Anikeeva


© Irina Anikeeva

This simple pullover with a great cabled yoke jumped out at me.  I love that it is in sportweight rather than worsted, and looks both sophisticated and casual.  I think this could be dressed up or down, and would look great in neutrals or jewel tones.  (I am thinking about a rich yellow-gold.)  It’s knit top-down with the increases ingeniously incorporated into the cables.  This would be a quick and satisfying knit.

The Beauceron by Designs by Delz


© Designs by Delz

I am always on the lookout for great menswear.  This is only the second pattern published (on Ravelry) by Vincent, the designer behind Designs by Delz.  I will definitely be keeping an eye on his work.  One might think that I am squeaking by here on the “texture” label, but in fact the colourwork on the yoke of this pullover combines slip stitches and purls, resulting in a beautiful subtle texture that highlights the lovely colourwork.  While I classified this as menswear, it is a great unisex piece; see the pattern page for an example worn by a woman.

I’m still chugging along on the Falkenburg jacket – sleeves in seed stitch with size 2 needles take a very long time to knit.  I have about 6 inches of the second sleeve still to go.  Have a good weekend and don’t forget to add some texture to your next order!

(By the way, this is my 400th post!  Who would have guessed I would still be doing this?)

Numbers don’t lie

I have made some progress on my Match and Move shawl.  It is very mindless, easy knitting that nonetheless keeps one interested, particularly as the stripes introduce beautiful transitions.


However, there is one big problem.  The shawl has a construction in two parts.  The first part increases on both sides, widening out from the narrow point, and the second part changes up the pattern of increases and decreases to give the shawl its distinctive shape.


© Martina Behm

Martina Behm clearly states in the instructions that you can make the first part as long or as short as you wish, but you must not use up more than one third of each colour of yarn before transitioning to Part 2.  Easy peasy, no?

But what happens when you are knitting in a hotel room on the other side of the globe, and have no scale to weigh your yarn?  And furthermore, the shawl is looking very small to you, even if you are too lazy to transfer it off the needle and make a proper measurement?  Wouldn’t you be tempted to add one more stripe before swiching to Part 2?


The pattern calls for two colours, and each stripe is 48 rows long (or 24 garter ridges).  Because I am knitting with three colours, I made each stripe 32 rows long (or 16 garter ridges). In the original pattern, the pattern switches from Part 1 to Part 2 after the fourth stripe (two of each colour), so I should have switched after the 6th stripe (two of each colour). This would have been after the grey stripe on the bottom of the above photo.  As you can see, I switched after the green stripe (which was the third stripe in green).

I argued with myself that (1) since I started the shawl with green, I should be able to squeeze an extra stripe out of the green despite what the instructions very clearly state, (2) I was probably underestimating the number of grams remaining and should therefore just carry on blithely knitting in the hopes that it all works out in the end, and (3) the designer was probably being overly cautious in her calculations so that if anyone were stupid enough to play yarn chicken (AHEM!) they would still come out okay.

To make matters worse, after I got home and had access to my scale, I continued to delude myself to the fact that I could squeeze out the stripes to finish the pattern, even when the numbers clearly didn’t support this!  Why?  Because (1) I am delusional, and (2) surely numbers lie.

Now, sadly, I have come to the conclusion that numbers don’t lie.  Ripping to commence soon.

Pattern Radar: Fusion Knitting

I am a real fan of fusion cooking.  It’s about taking the best of two or more traditional cuisines and combining them into a single dish.  As you may know, I have become very interested in Fairisle knitting, and indeed in stranded knitting techniques in general.  I have spent many hours pouring over patterns and projects and admiring the use of colour and pattern and technique.  One of the things that has been catching my eye lately, however, is what I am going to call Fusion Knitting – garments that are created by combining traditional knitting styles and techniques.

Here is an example:

fusion knitting 2

© Jennifer Beale

This design, called Heart’s Content, is by the Canadian designer Jennifer Beale. She has only released eight patterns so far (on Ravelry here), but each combines different knitting styles in interesting ways.  Heart’s Content is a basic top-down, in-the-round, knitted tee, in which the lace pattern at the top and shoulders transitions to stranded knitting for the body of the garment.  Not only is it pretty and imminently wearable but it has an advantage for someone who is new to stranded knitting: no steeks!

Another example of her work is the design called Joe Batt’s Arm:

fusion knitting 1

© Jennifer Beale

I really love her poetic description of this garment (from the Ravelry pattern page):

Joe Batt’s Arm is a structured, seamed cable knit with textured fair isle banding. The fair isle bands border the eyelet cables the same way that a bright blue night encloses the Fogo Island Inn with all of its light on. At the same time, the raglan shoulders lend a sporty quality to the pullover.

I dare you to read that sentence and not to want to search for the Fogo Island Inn.  I already did and I want to go there RIGHT THIS MINUTE!  Check out the photo here.  I love that she mentions her inspiration for this, as it really clicks once you’ve seen it.  This is a very intriguing and striking garment, and I imagine it would be both fun and challenging to knit.

Another knitter who is exploring the fusion of different knitting styles is the Japanese designer Junko Okamoto.  Here is her design, Astrid:

fusion knitting 3

© Junko Okamoto

I love this pullover which combines a beautiful muted stranded pattern with cabled sleeves.  Like Heart’s Content above, this is an example of a stranded garment that doesn’t need steeking.  Astrid also has a loose, billowy shape – a new profile that is in counterpoint to the fitted garments of recent years, and has been championed by a crop of new (to me at least) Japanese designers of handknitting patterns.  It is a one-size-fits-all garment designed to be voluminous.  (I am eagerly awaiting projects of this pattern on knitters of various sizes so I can evaluate its drape and fit.)

I’m not sure whether to call it fusion knitting as such, but I am also really caught up by Junko’s Bouquet Sweater and Bouquet Scarf, both shown in the photo below:

fusion knitting 4

© Junko Okamoto

If you look really carefully at the photos (go check out the Ravelry project pages), you can see the very interesting mix of techniques, including stranding the yarn on both the wrong and on the right side to create this ethereal, three-dimensional patterning that looks like moss on the forest floor.

I am totally captivated by these examples of Fusion Knitting and I would love to find other designers also pushing the boundaries and doing interesting juxtapositions of traditional styles and techniques.  If you know of any, please mention them in the comments!

Sunshine and knitting are restorative

I’ve been working hard since I arrived in Johannesburg and haven’t had much of a chance to get any knitting done.  Truth be told, I am quite worn out. But today is Sunday and I am not teaching, and after a cloudy start the sun came out.  I cast on for the Match & Move shawl by Martina Behm.  I’m still not convinced that I like triangular shawls, but I am sure enjoying knitting this:


I sat out on a lounger by the pool, put my head phones in and an audio book on (a re-read of Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold) and had a restorative afternoon.  I am using yarn from a kit I bought many years ago from The Plucky Knitter.  It has three skeins of Primo Fingering (75% wool, 20% cashmere, and 5% nylon) in the colours En Vogue, Faded Grandeur and Elegant Elephant.  The colours are beautiful and rich:


The photos don’t really do them justice, especially when taken in the bright African light.  I have very little bandwidth here (I have tried to crop the top photo at least five times unsuccessfully) so I am going to go back to my knitting and book and eke out a bit more sunshine while I can.  I hope that you enjoy some time to knit this weekend, in the sun or not.

Travel knitting redux

I’m packing once again for a long-haul flight.  Tomorrow I’m heading to Johannesburg on a business trip.  I’ll have about 10 nights stuck in a hotel, so I definitely need to have some knitting packed, and preferably more than one project.

I am steadily progressing on my Falkenburg jacket, but it’s not good travel knitting at this stage.  I will take my Highland Rogue along.  Here is the last progress photo I took:


I am further along now, about two thirds of the way through this project.  The ends will be grafted together to make a very substantial cowl which can be wrapped three times around the neck.  I am finding it slow going; in fact, I took it along on my last trip to Johannesburg and possibly the one before that.

I have spent many hours trying to think of another project to take along with me.  I think I may have found one.  Emma and I went through all of my stash last month (more on that in some future post) and I found three skeins of yarn that I purchased long ago to make a Color Affection shawl:

parlour games

I wrote about this yarn purchase more than seven years ago in this post.  (OMG! I have been writing this blog for a very long time!)  A year later I wrote about the yarn again, stating that my very contrary nature prevented me from knitting the Colour Affection shawl because it was too trendy.  You can find that post here.  I find the latter post to be rather ironic right now, because I am thinking of finally using this yarn to knit another very popular shawl pattern, the Match & Move shawl by Martina Behm:


© Martina Behm

Not only is it popular, but it is also a triangular shawl, a shape which, as I have stated numerous times, I don’t like.  However, it checks the boxes for travel knitting: fairly mindless, acres of garter stitch, and lightweight.  It will provide a good counter to the Highland Rogue.  Maybe I can buck my trend to avoid trendy knits by knitting something trendy (!).  Or perhaps it’s now on the downhill side of the trendiness chart so it no longer qualifies.  In any case, now that I have the knitting sorted out, I’m off to unearth my summer wardrobe.

Blast from the past

On February 10th, 2006, I sat with my two daughters on a couch in Potsdam, Germany, knitting needles poised, television on, waiting for the start of the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.  The Yarn Harlot, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, had come up with a cool challenge for herself – pick a challenging knitting project, cast on during the Opening Ceremony, knit like crazy while watching the Olympics, and finish the project before the Closing Ceremony ends.  She wrote about it on her blog and thousands of knitters around the globe decided to join her in the challenge.  It was fun, it was cool, and it gave us an excuse to both watch every second of television coverage and to knit like maniacs.

Somewhere there is a photo of the three of us casting on our first stitches.  Emma was 12, Leah was 11, and I was determined. I picked a pullover by Nicki Epstein that was featured in the Fall 2004 episode of Vogue Knitting. I still have the magazine:


And here is the pullover, part of a feature article about Nicki:


I finished the challenge – succeeding in completing an entire sweater before the Games ended – and then promptly ripped it out and re-knit it as I realised I should have knit it in a different size.   (It was so long ago I can’t remember whether I knit it too small or too large the first time around).  But I remember the sense of accomplishment and the fun.  (Both girls were beginner knitters and made scarves.  Pretty good scarves, too.)

For the last month, while Emma was home she has been helping me clean up and organise the house.  This included going through all of my knitting stuff (more on that in a future post) and while doing it, we found the sweater!


It still looks great.  No pilling, no stretching out of shape, just like it was finished yesterday.  It has been packed away for well over a decade.  Emma was 12 when I knit it and she is 25 now and, can you believe, it still fits her!


This was a very nice blast from the past.  It brought back some fun memories.  I knit this back in the days before Ravelry – before I kept records of my knitting. It was a time when I was just starting to find blogs written by knitters and to become entranced with knitting again.  It was a time when the girls were young and we could indulge in silly projects and be creative as a family.  (Actually, we still do that.  We’re just not as young anymore and live many thousands of miles apart.)

Emma has gone back to Vancouver now.  We are sad.  So is the pullover:


Doesn’t it look dejected?  Don’t worry, pullover!  Maybe in another 13 years, we will pull you out and Emma can model you again!  And you will probably still fit!