I KNIT TWELVE SWEATERS IN TWO WEEKS!!

Kelly: I KNIT TWELVE SWEATERS IN TWO WEEKS!!

Doug: What?  That can’t be right.

Kelly:  But I used ALL CAPS and two exclamation points!!!  That means it’s true.

Doug: But Kelly, consider the photographic evidence…

Kelly: Photographic evidence?

Doug: Yes.  Here is a photo of your knitting from the past two weeks:

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Kelly:  Exactly.  Twelve sweaters!

Doug: I see two sleeves and around six inches of the body.  That amounts to about 30% of a sweater.  It’s not even close to 12 sweaters.

Kelly: Oh! Now I see the problem, Doug.  This photograph is taken against a white background.

Doug: And?

Kelly: And the other eleven and a half sweaters are white!  They blend in to the background so you can’t see them!

 

Pretty much perfect in every way

I’ve written a lot of posts about the Tinder Cardigan that I have been knitting for Emma. Some of them funny, some of them frustrated, and many of them nit-picky.  But, I have to say, this cardigan is really worth the effort.

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I fretted about the seaming, complained about the yarn, worried that it wouldn’t fit, dragged it around the world and back and then back again, had ridiculous conversations with Emma about whether and how to modify it, ripped out seams, blocked it TWICE, bought three different sets of buttons, knit it in four countries on three continents, and………

it is pretty much perfect in every way.

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I will leave you to read through my earlier posts for in-depth details.  The cardigan was designed by the great Jared Flood for Brooklyn Tweed (the Ravelry link is here).  I used Shelter worsted weight yarn (also from Brooklyn Tweed) in the shade Birdbook. Despite the fact that it is not my favorite yarn to knit with (I don’t like the feel of it in my hands), once washed and blocked it really delivered!  It is so light and lofty and has one of the best tweed palettes anywhere.

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I knit it in a size 34 planning on an inch or two of ease; my gauge swatch lied a bit (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and it ended up being REALLY narrow.  I blocked it out twice in order to get more width, particularly in the collar and biceps.  It ended up with zero ease – not the look we were going for – but both Emma and I agreed that it looked fantastic this way.

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I made very few modifications.  I knit it two inches longer than called for – both in body length and sleeve length.  I knit the ribbing for 6 inches (instead of the 4.5″ called for).  I put in more buttons (9 instead of 7), and they were also slightly larger than the pattern called for (1″ as opposed to 3/4″).   I found a beautiful ribbon which has a pattern in the very same shade of green, and I painstakingly sewed it over the pick-up seams on both the button and the button hole band.  My hope is that the ribbon will give the cardigan some stability over time and keep it from stretching out of shape.

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I took the unfinished cardigan with me to Vancouver, where we were spending the holiday with our daughters.  While there, I knit the button bands, picked out buttons with Emma (at the funky shop Button Button), sewed on the buttons, and then, as said before (but it demands repeating) painstakingly sewed on the ribbon.

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On New Year’s Day, we drove up the coast, first to Horseshoe Bay and then farther up towards Whistler.  The day was stunning with blue skies and fabulous scenery, but it was icy cold and extremely windy.  In fact, the road into Horseshoe Bay was covered with downed branches and we nearly drove under a tree just as it crashed onto the highway during the drive. As you might expect from our family, we made Emma get out of the car in the freezing cold and gale force winds – repeatedly – in order to photograph the sweater. The things we do for this blog!

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On the photos we took during that drive, you may notice that the cardigan has no buttons or ribbon yet, thus compounding the child cruelty in making Emma pose in the cold and wind!  Once we headed back into Deep Cove, I sat by a roaring fire and started to sew.

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As always, when Doug and I find ourselves in Vancouver, we head down to Deep Cove to take a photo of us on the spot where we were married.  Here we are, at the very spot, a mere 25 years (and a few months) later!

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My year in review – 2016

This year has been such a train wreck in so many ways that it is difficult to put a happy spin on my traditional end-of-year post.  On the personal front, many great things happened this year: I graduated from business school with an EMBA, I settled into a new and exciting career, I celebrated my 25th wedding anniversary, and I traveled a lot, including a fantastic holiday with Doug and the girls and dear friends to Sicily, a visit to my mom in Phoenix, and some lovely trips with Doug to Beirut, Verona, South Africa and Vancouver.  The double whammy of Brexit and Trump threw me for a loop, however, and all of this good stuff seems to pale into insignificance when compared to the state of the world.  I admit to feeling depressed and still in a state of shock.

On the knitting front, it has been my least productive year since I began this blog.  My new job took a lot of my attention and energy, and knitting took a back seat.  This year I finished only 9 projects: a hat, a pair of mitts, a shawl, a baby sweater, three cowls and a sweater each for Leah and Emma.  In the photos below, I am modelling Leah’s sweater and I have included a teaser photo of Emma’s on the bottom right.  (I have finished her cardigan but haven’t had time to blog about it yet.  I will get photos before I leave Vancouver and will blog about it soon.)

In an interesting twist, I didn’t knit any sweaters for myself this year.  Last year, I knit five sweaters, all of them for myself.  Most of my knitting time this year was taken up with the gold cabled shawl in Kidsilk Haze Eclipse, which I love to pieces so it was worth the effort. The general trend for the year has been a bit of a loss in knitting mojo, due to lots of other things keeping me occupied and feeling in a bit of a funk.  However, I am happy with the projects I have finished, and they are all getting lots of use, which makes me feel good.

As for the year to come, I am optimistic (as far as knitting is concerned).  I have just two knitting goals for the year.  The first is to organise my knitting tools and supplies, including stash, in such a way that knitting is easy.  Right now it seems like I can never find what I need when I need it, and this often leads me to just give up and read a book instead.  My second goal is to have fun knitting.  I want to knit what pleases me and enjoy the process.  I think I may have forgotten a bit of the fun this year.

This New Year has begun with absolute gorgeous, crystal clear skies here in Vancouver – the kind of days that make you catch your breath at the beauty of it all.  We have been walking in the mountains and enjoying the freezing cold but spectacular outdoors.  My mind is bubbling away with plans for the knitting year to come.  I am looking forward to another year of knitting and blogging.

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Cowl-a-bunga!

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This year I knit cowls for Emma, Leah and Doug for Christmas.  Today the sun came out in Vancouver and revealed the city in all of its glory.  We went down to Stanley Park to take some photos and enjoy the day.

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Emma’s cowl is designed by Isabell Kraemer, and is called Copenhagen Calling.  It is a really beautiful pattern and produces a big, lush cowl.

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I knit it with two shades of Triskelion Elmet Aran which I bought at Yarnporium, a lovely event organised by the folks at the Yarn in the City blog.  I was entranced by the Triskelion display, which had a veritable rainbow of gorgeous shades.  The yarn for both Emma’s and Leah’s cowls was purchased from their booth.

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Emma’s cowl is in grey and burgundy; the colours are rich and deep.  The yarn is very wooly and sturdy – it has substance and feels good in the hands while knitting.  I was surprised by how well it bloomed in the wash, producing a lovely, lofty, warm fabric.

I purchased one skein of the grey and two of the burgundy; each skein has 160 meters. The pattern calls for 250 meters of the first colour and 330 of the second.  I adjusted the pattern slightly to make up for my lesser yardage.  I cast on with the grey, using US7 needles, and ribbed for 2.5″.  I knit only 2.5 repeats of the slip-stitch pattern (instead of the called for 4 repeats), which brought me to the end of the grey yarn.

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I made a slight change in the pattern, in that just before starting the lace stitch, I decreased 8 stitches evenly around.  Many of the photos I have seen of this cowl have a very stretched-out lace section and I was hoping to avoid this.  I knit the lace on a US6, and then knit the garter rows with a US5 (as per the pattern).  I think the result is perfect.

Unblocked the cowl measured 44″ x 10.5″. I blocked it out quite a bit to open up the lace – it ended up at 50″ x 11″.  I could not be happier with the pattern or the yarn; the combination of the two is fantastic and looks beautiful on Emma.

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For Leah’s cowl I used the pattern Slip-Zag by Lisa Hannes.  I had wanted to make this cowl for a long time and had always envisaged it in green and purple.  The Triskelion display at Yarnporium had the most stunning array of greens and purples; it drew me in immediately.  There were many beautiful yarns on display at this event, but I found myself unable to walk past their booth.

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I used a DK weight for this cowl, which is knit in Triskelion Dyfnaint DK, in the colours Llyr and Cepheus.  I had initially chosen a more grass green shade, but upon discussion with the booth attendant, I went for this teal. These two were made for each other – the incredible jewel colours become even more vibrant when paired together.

I cast on 260 stitches and used a US6 needle.  The pattern is very intuitive and relaxing. I knit this while on holiday in South Africa and found it a very enjoyable knit.  Like the Elmet Aran, the Dyfnaint blocks beautifully.  It is wonderfully soft and warm.  I will definitely be using these yarns again.

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Doug received his cowl a bit early, and I blogged about it here; the linked page includes the free pattern for the design, which I call the Business Class Cowl.  These photos, with the late afternoon sunshine, really bring out the beautiful colour of the cowl.

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It is knit with Woolfolk Tynd in Darkest Bronze; the sun picks up the bronze shade perfectly.

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It was good to end out the year exploring new yarn companies; I had never used either Woolfolk or Triskelion before.  They both make fantastic yarns and I already have projects in mind for each.

We had a beautiful day in Stanley Park.  This was in many ways a very trying year and it was good to end it with the four of us being silly together on a lovely day.

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I normally end the year with a summary of the year’s knitting.  I will definitely do that, but will likely post it a few days into the New Year.  In the meantime, I wish all of you a healthy and happy New Year, with lots of knitting and with a renewed commitment to compassion, human kindness and a just and democratic society.

Happy New Year from me, Kelly, and from my co-conspirators, Doug, Emma and Leah!

Real sweaters. Real people.

We are in Vancouver for the holidays.  On Christmas Eve, Doug always cooks a whole salmon.  We are into tradition.  Today we woke up early to go to Granville Island to buy a salmon at the market.  The Granville Island markets are fabulous; if you haven’t been, you should put it on your wish list.  They are also always crowded, a lovely, bustling, market full of happy people, fantastic food, and even more happy people.  This morning, December 23rd, they were especially crowded.  As I was pushing my way through a mass of people, I spotted something:  a woman wearing a hand-knitted hat designed by Kate Davies.

I stopped and asked her “Is that a Kate Davies hat you are wearing?”  “Yes,” she said, “And I am wearing a Kate Davies sweater as well.”  This started a nice conversation with Julie, a fellow Kate Davies fan.  She unzipped her coat to show me her sweater and politely didn’t call me weird when I asked to photograph her for the blog.  Here is Julie, wearing her Bunnet (Stranded) hat from Buachaille: At Home in the Highlands, and her Keith Moon sweater from Yokes.

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Julie pointed out that she had only put in one contrast colour in her Keith Moon, as she was using stash yarn.  I think she looks fantastic and the colour and fit is perfect.  Julie, like me, has joined Kate’s Inspired by Islay club, and is hoping to get Kate’s new book for Christmas this year.  (I know its under my tree, because I ordered it and wrapped it up myself with a “For Kelly” tag.)

Happy holidays everyone!

The continuing saga of Tinder (the cardigan, that is!)

Thank you to everyone who chimed in with advice on this post regarding the Tinder Cardigan I am knitting for Emma.  It really helps to get good advice and I so appreciate the dialogue I have with readers of this blog.  The title of this post may lead some to the false conclusion that the pattern, Tinder by Jared Flood, is in some way problematic. Not so.  I call it a “saga” merely because of my own ridiculous but funny conversations with Emma which slowed down the beginning of the project, my own rush to finish it before heading to Tucson, which paradoxically led to slowing down the middle of the project, and my indecisions over seams and buttons, which slowed down the end of the project.

Here is an update.  I ripped out the seams in the sleeves:

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Are you surprised?  I imagine that most of you would have predicted this.  Why knit a garment and not do it right the first time (or the second, or the third, or the fourth…..)?

I have yet to sew the seams back up, as I am trying to finish up a wee bit of Christmas knitting first, but I did knit the button band, which turned out so pretty.  It really looks great! (Note that you can see a more accurate representation of the lovely green shade – Bird Book in Shelter – in the last photo of this post.)

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And I did go out and buy another set of buttons:

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I am not convinced these buttons are right either (I think the shade is too light) but my local John Lewis seems to be button-challenged lately and I haven’t had time to seek out an alternate source.  However, I do think these are the proper sized buttons for this cardigan (1″ as opposed to 3/4″).  In the photo below, the metal buttons I originally bought are on the right, the new buttons are in the middle, and on the left are the new buttons turned upside down (the backs are a nice mottled brown).

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This leads me to yet another potential problem.  I knit the button band the requisite 1 1/4″ as shown in the pattern. Now that I am now going to go with 1″ buttons,  I am worried that the button band is too narrow. I am thinking of ripping out the bind-off on the button band and putting in an extra two rows of ribbing (maybe 4). Two steps forward, one step back.

In any case, I will be taking the garment as is to Vancouver and will finish it there by hook or by crook!

I will end this post with a photo of the absolutely gorgeous little ribbon I found for sewing over the seams on the back of the button bands.  I think it is a perfect match, though perhaps a bit cutesy. We will just have to leave it up to Emma as to whether she wants a more sophisticated finish.

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My next post will be from Vancouver! It will likely contain new knitting content.  Happy holidays!

 

Sweet and Tart

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.

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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).

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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.

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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:

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Or this black pencil skirt:

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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:

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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).

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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:

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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?

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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!