Welcome to another episode of Wearability Wednesday, in which I take a look at a previously knitted garment and reflect on its wearability. Does it get worn or is it stuck in a drawer? If the former, how does it get styled? Has it held up? Was the yarn the right choice? Would I knit it again? Today, I look at Vodka Lemonade, a cardigan pattern by Thea Coleman.
I finished this in August 2020, and wrote about the completed garment in this post. I knit it for Leah, but as she was in Vancouver, I grabbed some quick photos of myself wearing it for that blog post, and then put it in the mail. This is the first time I have managed to get photos of it on Leah, for which I am very happy.
I picked this pattern specifically to wear with dresses. Leah has lots of cute dresses and tends to wear them. I wanted something that was stylish but simple. It had to be relatively cropped because that looks best with a dress. I wanted it to be hard-wearing and easy to style.
I picked yellow because it makes you feel happy. (And it just happened to match a lot of her dresses.)
One of the great features of this dress is that it is knitted in one piece with all of the finishing done as you go along, so once you’ve finished knitting, it’s ready to wear! No button bands to pick up, or buttons to sew in, no collar to attach, just sew in a few threads and voila! I also like the fact that the lapels can fold over nicely, or not, because the pattern on them is reversible.
I also really like the 50s vibe I get from this pattern. It is fun to style, and looks really good on a shapely body.
You can see here that after two years and some washing, the cardigan still looks great. I used John Arbon Knit by Numbers DK in the shade 19-385. It’s a 100% merino wool.
It was my first time using this yarn, and it was really nice to handle. Seeing it now, I am even more impressed. It looks like new, with no pilling! I would highly recommend both yarn and pattern!
I took these photos just last week, some in Henley-on-Thames, and a few at The Ashmolean in Oxford. It was gorgeous and sunny then, and now it is grey and rainy. But a yellow cardigan always brings out the sun!
It’s time for another Wearability Wednesday post! In this occasional series, I revisit a hand-knitted garment from the past and comment on its wearability. Do I wear it? Why or why not? How do I style it? Is it durable? Does it pill? What would I change if I were to make it again? In this edition I write about the #11 Hourglass Top by Theresa Shabes, Here I am wearing it this past weekend:
And here it is when I knitted it in the spring of 2014:
This was a very quick knit, from start to finish taking 23 days. How can I remember that? Well, because at the time I wrote a post about this top called How to become shapely in 23 days; this was a playful title based on the pattern employing a bit of an optical illusion that appears to draw in the waist.
Its been six years since I knitted this and I must admit that it spent most of that time in a box. The truth is, that until this last month, I hardly wore this top at all.
The problem is that I thought about it as a top, and when worn as a top, it is very impractical. It itches! (Do not wear Noro yarn next to the skin!) It’s a wool turtleneck without sleeves! When did I think I would wear it? As a top worn next to the skin, it is a not very effective garment. But, when worn as a vest when going out for long walks in the woods? Now that is a different story.
And when walking through town on a crisp autumn day? That works, too.
While I have discovered a way to put this garment to good use, it still has some problems in my mind. First, even on top of a turtleneck like this one, it is still itchy! Second, I am not a big fan of the neckline. The pattern actually called for rolled edges at the neck and the arms; I left them at the neck but added a few rows of ribbing at the armholes instead. I am not a fan of rolled edges, and don’t like the weird funnel like shape of the neckline. If I re-made this, I would put in a crew neck instead.
I also think that the proportions of the upper half of the garment are a bit off. The upper chest is about an inch too wide; if re-knitting I would decrease more stitches at the armholes. I would also decrease the length from armhole to shoulder by an inch. If you knit this, you need to use a yarn where the colour changes are long; otherwise the optical illusion at the waist will not work.
Above you can see me wearing it on two different days, in two different church cemeteries (where I live, every little town has one of these). The photo directly above was taken in the pouring rain on Saturday. Doug and I jumped out of the car and ran in the rain to take these photos. Yes, we are crazy, but it just goes to illustrate that wool is good for lots of weather. The other churchyard photo was taken the following day while Doug and I were out walking in the brilliant sunshine of an autumn morning.
Take good care, everyone. Be safe! If you can, take the time to enjoy a walk in the sunshine and some wool.
Today, Doug and I drove out to the farm to pick up fresh produce. We shop weekly at Blue Tin Produce, a fantastic farm with a small farm shop and cafe, a short drive away from our home through lovely countryside. Before Covid, we used to sit outside of the shop on a sunny Sunday and have a coffee; now, it is a lifeline to the freshest produce and specialty foods, safely acquired. As we pulled up today, on a drizzly, chilly day in July, I realised three things: (1) I was wearing one of my hand-knitted sweaters, (2) it was Wednesday, and (3) it had been some time since I wrote a Wearability Wednesday post. And, ta-da!, a post is born.
In Wearability Wednesday posts, I re-visit a knitted garment and comment on its wearability and also its durability, paying attention to how I style it and wear it, and how it has aged. You can find all of these posts (in reverse chronological order) by following this tag.
This is a linen pullover which I knitted in 2015. You can see the newly-finished sweater, and read about some small modifications, in this blog post. The design is called Sel Gris [Ravelry link], and is by Claudia Eisenkolb. Here is one of the photos from that post:
The design incorporates some really nice details at the neckline, and ribbed sleeves which are picked up and knit down. It is a nice twist on a basic summer tee. I wear this one with jeans (as here) or shorts, depending on the weather. As it is 100% linen, it is perfect for steamy hot summer days, but it also works well on a drizzly day like today. I had lots of fun posing with the collection of old tractors at the Blue Tin.
I knit this with Shibui Knits Linen, a chainette style fingering-weight linen yarn, which has since been discontinued. However, Shibui Reed, also a 100% linen with a chainette structure, substitutes for this yarn. I have seen the Reed, and I think they are pretty much identical in feel. If you plan to use this yarn yourself, you may wish to read my post, The gauge swatch lies! , describing my first attempt at this pullover, before you cast on. Linen is hard to knit with; this one in particular I found to be a bit hard on the hands, as the texture adds some scratchiness. Once washed, however, the fabric becomes softer, and is quite comfortable to wear. I have washed this one many times, and it hasn’t warped like linen often does; you can see here that it still drapes really well:
I think for a 5 year-old sweater that has been washed and worn, thrown into suitcases, dressed up and down, and survived blasts of sand and salt water on beach walks, it still looks pretty good.
I have knitted a number of summery tees and tanks over the years, and this one has lasted a bit better than most. I have also tried a number of different linens and I find that I am usually unhappy with the linen pulling out of shape. This linen tee has kept its shape (better than I have!). I should note that, unlike many knitters, I don’t throw linen knits into the dryer; I’ve always dried this flat.
Wishing you all some fresh air and countryside, and maybe some linen and tractors thrown in for good measure!
Today, as Doug and I were taking a walk through the fields, I realised two things at once. First, he was wearing a sweater which I had knit for him many years ago and which has never been featured on the blog, and second, today is Wednesday. And voila! A post is born!
It has been awhile since I last wrote a Wearability Wednesday post, so it is definitely past time to do one again. Wearability Wednesday is a (very occasional) feature in which I review a previously knitted garment and comment on its wearability. You can find all of the WW posts (in reverse order) by using this link.
I knit this sweater for Doug in 2006. This was well before I started the blog (in 2011 – my, how time flies!). It was even before Ravelry (I joined Ravelry in 2008). The pattern is from the Interweave Knits Fall 2006 edition, so I must have cast it on almost as soon as my subscription copy landed in the post.
The pattern, Spartan Pullover, is designed by Kristin Nicholas. I see that you can now download the pattern electronically from Interweave Press (there is a link on the Ravelry pattern page). The pattern called for an Aran weight wool. Instead, I used Rowan Felted Tweed held double. My very few notes for this pattern (which I input onto Ravelry in March 2008) say: “I substituted this yarn which was much thinner than the pattern called for so I used two strands of the yarn held together. I still had to go up a couple of needle sizes to get gauge.”
I think that this would be much better knitted up with a real Aran weight yarn. The Felted Tweed is a very nice, heather-y, soft-next-to-the-skin yarn, but at this gauge it isn’t very sturdy. As Doug put it today: “It doesn’t do much to block the wind.” On the other hand, it makes for a very lightweight, comfortable sweater.
I am not a great fan of the drop shoulders, and I definitely should have knitted this a size down! Felted Tweed is very hard-wearing yarn, but I think that, even held double, it really should have been knit at a tighter gauge. This loose gauge makes it less sturdy and gives the garment less integrity. I am a better knitter now than I was then, and in particular, I wasn’t very good at stranding. (Now that I think of it, this may have been my very first attempt at stranding!) I didn’t maintain the best tension, particularly in the contrast between the stockinette and stranded sections.
I like this photo, although I took it from far off so it isn’t as sharp as it could be:
Doug had wandered off to help hold up this tree:
Despite these few quibbles, this is a nice sweater and has held up well. The pattern is very easy, and written fairly old school (as one did back then). The whole pattern, including specs, charts, and schematics, fits on a page and a half. Doug thinks it is a very wearable, comfortable pullover, and well-suited for walks in the countryside. It’s old, but good.
Like much of the world, Doug and I are pretty freaked out by events. We are diligent about social distancing. (This is reinforced by the kids calling every day to make sure that we have not had contact with anyone!) We are both lucky to be able to work from home and also that we live in the countryside and so can still enjoy a walk. I am trying to keep this blog an upbeat respite from the news right now, as I think we all need a space to relax. I wish you all the best in strange times. Keep safe everyone!
Welcome to another episode of Wearability Wednesday, in which I review a previously knitted garment, and comment on its wearability. Do I wear it, or has it been consigned to a drawer? How do I style it? How has it held up? Would I knit it again? What would I do differently? Does it fit?
Today we will look at this sweater:
I knit this around this time last year. I blogged about it quite extensively as it underwent a transformation or two on the needles. It was a case of choosing the wrong pattern and yarn combination, realising half way through that it wasn’t going to work, and then morphing it into something else to take advantage of the yarn. You can read about it here. Given the mis-starts (including some sizing issues), I think it turned out pretty well. I called it Ocean Waters.
Emma took the above photo yesterday. You can see that the fit is good. It is a cool and casual sweater: perfect with jeans, which is how I usually wear it. It is a “going out for a long walk in the woods” sweater. A “puttering around the house” sweater. A “cosy up on the couch with a good book” sweater. In other words, it is a sweatshirt kind of sweater, only far better because everyone knows that natural fibres beat fleece hands down.
This was the first (and so far, only) project which I knitted with Nua yarn, a new-ish yarn developed and distributed by Carol Feller. The yarn is a blend of 60% merino wool, 20% yak, and 20% linen. It has a very rustic look, with long fibres, and muted colours (the linen takes up dye differently thus lending depth to the colour). It is also very warm, due to the yak I suspect, which is why it didn’t lend itself to the summer top I had initially planned to knit.
So, back to the wearability question: do I wear it? Yes, all of the time. How is it holding up? The short answer is: it has pilled terribly. Here is a photo from a few weeks ago, which I took myself in a bit of a contortionist pose, in order to show some of the extent of pilling:
This is pretty awful. As a result, I tended to wear the sweater all of the time around the house – but not out in public. I want to make clear that this yarn is the most cuddly, warm, deliciously soft next to the skin, absorbent, comfortable, lovely, natural, lightweight, scrumptious stuff ever. But it pills if I just look at it.
It is also the case that I had not spent much time purposely trying to de-pill it. So, last week, I took it to task, and tried my best to get rid of all the pills:
Then, I washed it and laid it out to dry. You can see from the photo at the top, and the below close-up that it definitely looks better after getting this spa treatment.
You can also see how very beautiful the colours are, and how the blended yarns result in such a rich canvas. I mean, this close-up is gorgeous! Look at the stitch definition! However, I have been wearing it now for a few hours and already the sleeves are starting to pill again. I have heard of sweaters which are initially very pilly and then magically cease to be after a few washes, and am hoping that might be true for this one. Because, on every other count, I love this yarn. It is incredibly warm for its weight, and as soft as can be. I will continue to wear it and periodically de-pill it, and hope for the best. And I will probably try Nua again on a different type of canvas – maybe as a cowl or a pair of mitts, perhaps with a smaller needle size and a textured stitch pattern (note that the sweater doesn’t show much pilling across the bodice which is knitted in a knit and purl patterned stitch).
For all of you who asked me on Ravelry for a review of Nua, I have to say its a bit of a mixed message. Regardless, it is cold here in the UK this week, and I am staying toasty warm in my Nua sweater.
All of you long-time followers, brace yourselves: I’m long past due for a Wearability Wednesday post. This (for those who are new-ish readers) is a post where I look at a knitting project from some time back and check on its wearability. Do I actually wear it? If not, why not? If yes, how do I wear it? How do I style it? How has it held up? Would I knit it again? The subject of today’s post is Arleen. I knit Arleen in less than two weeks in March of 2013. Here is a photo from back then:
Since that photo was taken, four and a half years ago, I went through empty nest syndrome, gained a post-graduate degree in an entirely new field, and started a third (or is it a fourth?) career. This has meant (among lots of other things) that I have done less and less knitting and gained more and more weight. But my Arleen keeps looking good. Here is a photo from Monday morning:
And here is the back:
As you can see, the fit is still good. The yarn is Cascade 220, a workhouse worsted weight yarn which is not expensive, comes in lots of shades, and is virtually indestructible. This is not a yarn which is going to sag after a few washes. It also won’t pill much and it won’t bleed. It is a good, solid, dependable yarn. I never thought of it as a next-to-the-skin yarn, but in fact I do not find Arleen to be at all itchy or uncomfortable to wear.
Arleen is an interesting example for a Wearability Wednesday post because it originated as the result of a sweater I frogged and detailed in one of my earliest WW posts, Goodbye Levenwick. The new sweater was blogged in the follow-up post Hello, Arleen. The fact that the yarn was frogged, and then re-knit without steaming or straightening, and that it looks so good, is another testimony to the Cascade 220.
All of this is good, but I have to tell you there is one serious potential downside to this top: worsted is for winter! Whenever I see a short-sleeved or sleeveless worsted weight sweater I always have the same thought: If it is cold enough for a worsted weight sweater, then it too cold for sleeveless. But herein lies an interesting fact: a sleeveless worsted weight top works really well on a cold day under a blazer.
I sometimes think that we women go through four stages in life: first, we are always cold (this stage begins in childhood and lasts a long time), then we are always hot (this comes with being ‘a woman of a certain age’ to speak euphemistically), then we are either very hot or very cold usually in quick succession, and finally, we end up being always cold. In these middle two stages, where overheating happens frequently, it is very nice to have a sleeveless but warm top under a removable jacket or blazer.
On Monday, we woke up to weather that was just above freezing. It was cold. I was debating what to wear under a jacket: a sweater could lead to me roasting in the middle of a meeting but a blouse may be chilly. What to do? While rummaging through a drawer, I came upon Arleen and an answer presented itself: grab Arleen and top it with a jacket! And just to show you that it works, here I am trying it with a number of jackets. (Please note, I only changed the jackets, keeping my black jeans and boots on throughout, so I have not bothered to coordinate my whole look here. Also, it was cold out, I had not put on makeup or otherwise gussied up, and Doug had about 2 minutes before he had to leave for work – thus, we took only a few shots instead of the 40 that I would normally take to get one good one.)
With a retro, 80s, black jacket complete with shoulder pads and gold buttons:
With a rather boring, grey business suit jacket:
With a cool, cropped jacket in an interesting geometric pattern:
With a brown, flannel sporty jacket:
With my Escher cardigan:
I think they can all work pretty well, and give you an idea of Arleen’s versatility. The neckline is a bit funny with the geometric jacket, although the colour works well. I like it best with the Escher but think it works well with the blazers. (If you are interested in my Escher cardigan and have the fortitude to read two very long and technical posts about knitting and modifying the pattern, you can check them out here and here.) On Monday, I wore Arleen to work with the grey blazer, and sure enough, I took the blazer off when I got warm and put it on when I cooled off. A good solution. Clearly this is the exception that makes the Worsted is for Winter rule!
Welcome to another Wearability Wednesday post, in which I re-visit a hand-knitted garment and discuss its wearability. The garment in question today is the turtleneck which I finished in early February 2015 and blogged here; below is a photo taken just after finishing.
The pattern, Lightweight Pullover, was designed by Hannah Fettig. I took much inspiration from Hannah’s design and the many projects on Ravelry. (This is a very popular design.) Once I got going, however, I did my own thing as far as the numbers go – increasing and decreasing where needed, and not paying much attention to the pattern specs. I took minimal notes, which you can find on my Ravelry project page, here. I did change the waistband and the cuffs to seed stitch, which I think adds much to the look of the garment.
Of all of the hand-knitted garments in my wardrobe, this is probably the one that has been worn the most in the last year. Partly, this is due to the fact that I knit it after I put on weight. (I gained about 10 kilos during 2013-14; many of the knits I made before that are temporarily in storage.) But mostly, its because it is a very serviceable pullover that fits well into my wardrobe and my lifestyle.
I frequently wear it with jeans. It is easy to throw in a suitcase and thus it has been worn all over the globe in the last two years. Below, I am wearing it while examining wool fleeces in the basement of a shop in Llandudno (blogged about here).
I like that it is lightweight; it is knit in fingering weight wool and this makes it easy to wear and to layer. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the fabulous colour Tart. Note that the pattern calls for sportweight wool, but after seeing dozens of Lightwieght Pullovers knit in Tosh Merino Light, I decided that it gave really nice drape.
I also often wear this garment to the office. It can be quite easily dressed up or down. Usually, I will pair it with grey or black, as with these grey trousers:
Or this black pencil skirt:
These are all great features and means it gets worn a lot. But, of course, there are some negatives as well. This is the first garment I knit in Tosh Merino Light, and I find that it pills. A lot:
While Tart is a gorgeous colour, I have found it to be a little bit less versatile than I originally thought. I would normally pair a deep wine with black, grey, navy or brown. In actual fact, I find that it works much better with blacks and greys than with browns and navys. Here is a shot with navy; I’m not sure it comes through well in the photo, but the grey tones in the yarn cause it to clash just a bit with the navy (I know this is nit-picky, but it does make it less adaptable in my wardrobe).
I also have concerns about the fit through the shoulders and arms. I think it is about a good a fit as a raglan can be, but I am starting to think that a set-in shoulder has a much better fit. And, it is perhaps a bit too tight (alsa, the weight gain!). But what bothers me most is the slight felting under the arms:
Surely, I can’t be the only person who sweats? The only solution I see is a looser fit under the arms; perhaps more length in the armscythe? (And a bit more width in the bicep?)
The verdict: this is a fabulous and versatile piece in my wardrobe that sees a lot of wear. If I were to make it again, I think I would try a different yarn (one that would pill less), and I would add a bit of give to the upper arm. I think I would also do something with the cowl – make it a bit longer or give it more volume, perhaps?
Now, it is time to watch the Gilmore Girls (I had never even heard of the show before this summer and am now mid-way through season five – no spoilers please) and do some Christmas gift knitting. Enjoy your Wednesday!
It has been a long time since I last wrote a Wearability Wednesday post. For those of you who are new to the blog, this is a post in which I re-visit a hand-knitted garment and look at it from a wearability standpoint. Does it get worn? If yes, how do I style it? Has the garment held up to time?
In this Wearability Wednesday post, I look at my Viajante, a sort of cross between a shawl, a cowl, and a poncho, designed by Martina Behm. Here is me wearing it, just after finishing it, in 2013:
It is a laceweight shawl, made with one skein of Wollmeise Lacegarn. I knit it over a period of 5 months, which doesn’t seem so long now, but at the time I remember feeling it was endless. The above photo is from my blog post about the finished garment, which you can find here. In that post, I comment that it is actually not an easy garment to wear:
I am extremely proud of this shawl, it is a beautiful piece of knitting, made with fabulous yarn, and it makes for a striking garment. However, I wore it exactly three times. I never received a single comment on it. Not one. I came to the conclusion that it looked silly on me. (I think in the top photo of me it looks as if I have one arm and giant boobs and am wearing a voluminous purple cape. Maybe like a costume shoot for a new Wonder Woman movie? Showing off the purple Kevlar-like battle garments worn by her backup crew of middle-aged, ex-Amazonian battle advisors?) Perhaps, more accurately, I decided that I obviously didn’t have the necessary panache to carry off this piece. So what did I do? I gave it to Emma, of course!
Emma is tall and slim and extremely stylish and could carry off anything from haute couture to a potato sack. If you put her and Wonder Woman in a photo shoot, no one would spare a glance for Wonder Woman. Emma apparently wears this Viajante frequently, and enjoys it. She brought it with her to Sicily in May, and I couldn’t resist taking some photos of her wearing it. Viajante means traveller, and this knitted piece was started in Lebanon, finished in England, given to Emma who lives in Vancouver, and modelled in Sicily; traveller indeed!
These photos are taken in the gorgeous villa we stayed in (see this post and this one for more details on Sicily and the villa). You can see that Emma has styled it in a more casual way, and has bunched up the material more around her neck, making it have less of a fall. On her, it looks cute and pretty and natural. She switched to a pair of heels in the evening and she wore it to cocktails and dinner, and looked elegant.
This is not the first time I have solved a wearability issue by giving away a garment to my daughters. In this previous post (which I must say is a very good post), I showcased a hand-knitted dress which I made for myself but gave to Leah, and it ended up suiting her far better. Luckily, I have two daughters who love my handiwork and wear these garments with pride. It means that if I make a stylistic error, I can always remedy it through the ‘daughter route’ (and earn mom points as well)!
Wearability Wednesday is an occasional feature on this blog, in which I re-visit something I’ve knit in the past and discuss it from a wearability standpoint. Do I still wear it? Why? Or why not? Has it held up to time? How do I style it? Today’s post goes back to a pullover which I knit eight years ago, in the spring of 2006. Unfortunately, I can only find one photograph of it from that time, so please ignore the bewildered expression on my face and the washed-out colours (this was before we moved to a digital camera, so we were unable to take 40 photos to get one good shot):
This is the Klaralund sweater, designed by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton for Noro. It is knit in Noro Silk Garden. The above photo was taken in October of 2006, shortly after we moved to England. Here I am wearing it, eight years later and twenty pounds (egads!) heavier:
I have documented elsewhere on this blog my troubles with a repetitive stress injury (deQuervaine’s tenosynovitis) that led to me being unable to knit for more than a decade. This was the second sweater I made after I was able to take up knitting again. I wore this sweater to death! For the first few years after I knit it, it was the go-to item in my wardrobe. Jeans, check! Klaralund, check! Ready to go. Why did I wear it so much? I liked to wear hand-knit sweaters and I had very few to choose from at the time. I loved the colours. It was easy, un-fussy, but pretty.
At some point, however, I stopped wearing it. Until Doug took these photos a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had it on in years. Why did I stop wearing it? First of all, I think I had worn it so often that I had become bored with it. Second, as the years went on and I knit more and more, I had a growing pile of hand knits to wear, so it had some competition. More importantly, however: this sweater is shapeless. It is four rectangles sewn together. There is no shaping whatsoever. The combination of dropped shoulders and no waist shaping means that it is baggy and shapeless.
There is nothing particularly wrong with shapeless sweaters. In fact, over-sized sweaters without waist shaping and with dropped shoulders are right in style now. The past few years, however, has had me knitting a succession of shapely, curvy sweaters for me and the girls (for example, Livvy for me, Venetian Audrey for Emma and Peloponnese for Leah). Compared with them, my Klaralund felt sloppy. Another reason may also have to do with ego – it is nice to wear a hand knit sweater that shows off your expertise. Klaralund can be made by a total beginner.
Now that I’ve put it back on though, I think I might resurrect it. It is still comfortable and easy. The colours are still bright and interesting. It has even held its shape (in a shapeless kind of way). I can still fit into it, despite the extra weight! Furthermore, it brought back a bit of nostalgia. I knit this before Ravelry existed. When I was considering making this sweater, I put ‘Klaralund’ into a search engine and discovered that other knitters were doing the same – this was how I discovered knitting blogs for the first time. For me, this sweater marks the beginning of the internet in my knitting life. Who could have guessed that the internet would have so totally changed the knitting community and the way I think about knitting?
So, perhaps the next time I go walk by the river on a windy day or sip my morning coffee in the back garden, I may just pull Klaralund out of the closet.
Today is Wednesday and it’s time for another Wearability Wednesday post. For those not in the know, this is an occasional series on the blog where I look back at something I’ve knit and examine it from a Wearability standpoint: do I actually wear it? How do I style it? Has it stood up to wear? The focus of today’s WW post is the absolutely gorgeous cabled rib shawl:
This shawl was designed by Lily M. Chin and published in the Winter 1999/2000 edition of Vogue Knitting (where it is called #02 Reversible Cabled-Rib Shawl); you can find the Ravelry link here. I think it is likely that this is the single most-worn item of any I have ever knitted. I love everything about it.
It is not a knit for the easily bored. Knitting this takes endurance. It is not a difficult or complicated knit. It is, however, very long and repetitive. This might be why the project took me so long to finish. I fell in love with it when I first saw it. (Thanks, Mom, for shipping copies of Vogue Knitting to me all over the world for so many years!) I waited until October of 2008 to cast on, however. This may have been aided by the fact that by then I lived in England and I could purchase Kidsilk Haze from my local department store.
I didn’t finish knitting it until July 2010. It of course does not take 22 months to knit this unless you keep throwing it into a box and letting it sit for months on end while working on other projects. I did this at least three times due to extreme boredom and tedium. If you plan on knitting this, do as I say not as I do: This shawl will be one of the best things you ever knit! DO NOT consign it to your WIP pile. Plow ahead and finish it and you will never regret it.
Why do I love this shawl? I love its delicacy; if you hold it up to the light it is practically transparent. It is surprisingly warm. The cables give it a sense of movement and fluidity. It is very long and can be worn in so many ways, draped over the arms, wrapped two to three times around the neck, tossed over your shoulder. It looks great with jeans and a t-shirt, it looks fabulous and classy with a dress. I wear it in all seasons, as a shawl and as a scarf. I bundle up in it in the winter and wear it on a summer’s evening.
What do I love most about this shawl? It’s colour. It is green, glorious green! I never get tired of this colour. It cheers me up on dreary days. It adds impact to a simple outfit. It stands out in a crowd. It gets noticed. It is uplifting. As Kermit the Frog sings:
But green’s the color of spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like a mountain
Or important like a river
Or tall like a tree
from “Bein’ green” by Joe Raposo
I frequently think about knitting another one. Yes, it really is worth all of that effort. My only hesitation is to find the perfect colour to knit it in. I have seen beautiful examples of this knit in the palest of colours – pearl grey, ivory, soft pink. It is truly lovely in these soft shades. But I want something vibrant and alive – a rich, deep red, a gorgeous purple, even brilliant oranges and yellows (not my usual choices) appeal. When I first saw this green sitting in with the Kidsilk Haze in the shop, I had to buy it. My choice was made before I even was aware of it. So, I suppose I am waiting for a colour to grab me by the throat and say “Knit me! Knit ME!”
I have also seen many examples of this knit in different yarns including some worsted weight wools. To me, however, this shawl demands a light, soft, beautiful mohair – it is made for Kidsilk Haze. I think that if you are going to spend thousands of hours knitting in virtually endless ribbing (perhaps a slight exaggeration) to produce a garment that you will wear countless times, then you should splurge and buy the very best.
Not a month goes by when I don’t wear this shawl. The photos from my back garden (with me in a white t-shirt) where taken by Emma in October 2010. The photos in Tucson (black dress) are from April 2012, while the one on the bridge (purple turtleneck) was taken on campus a few metres from my office, just last week. Here is one taken yesterday (as you may be able to tell, we are having an unseasonably warm February):
Well, dear readers, that’s it for this edition of Wearability Wednesday. Lily Chin’s Reversible Cabled Rib Shawl is a completely successful knit in every way; one that is both beautifully wearable and that wears beautifully.