Not feeling the Shelter love

My current project is a cardigan for my daughter Emma, knit with Brooklyn Tweed’s worsted weight wool, Shelter.  This is one of those love-it or hate-it yarns; it seems to draw equal numbers of complaints and accolades.  At the moment, I can say, I am really not feeling the Shelter love.

First, however, a photo showing my progress, because Emma asked for one.

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I have finished the back, which is knit in a textured pattern, and both sleeves, which are knit in reverse stockinette.  The pattern is Tinder, a design by Jared Flood.  The sleeves have quite a roll to them, which will block out, but which makes it hard to photograph.  (I draped some circular needles over the sleeves to try to cut down on the rolling for the photo.)

I think my problems really began when I started the sleeves.  I do not like the way Shelter feels on my hands while I knit; it feels rough and my fingers start feeling abraded.  It’s hard to describe exactly, but the yarn just doesn’t feel nice.  It feels soapy, and when I have been knitting with it for a while my hands feel dry and scratchy.  I knit the back really fast and was enjoying the fast progress.  The stitch pattern seemed to make the process more lively and I didn’t really notice that much discomfort.  Once I started the stockinette, however, the knitting seemed to drag.  The texture of the finished product isn’t pleasing. (Note to Emma; never fear, this will all be fixed by the blocking.  The finished project will be gorgeous, particularly when worn by you!)

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I know for a fact that the yarn will soften considerably when washed and blocked and will become lofty and airy.  I know that it is lighter than almost any other worsted weight wool, so the finished sweater yard-for-yard, will weigh less.  I love the rich shades, the tweediness, the slubs of bright colours, and the rustic quality of the wool.  Most of all, I love the design aesthetic behind Brooklyn Tweed.  That said, I am really not enjoying knitting with this yarn.

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I have knit once before with Shelter – but never finished the sweater.  This is a total shame because it is an absolutely gorgeous pattern, Exeter by Michelle Wang.

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© Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

 

I finished and blocked the back and both sleeves, and they are fantastic, but then I got annoyed with the fronts and put the unfinished project in a plastic box, where it has sat for the last 4 years.  Here is a photo of the blocked sleeves:

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and another which shows the beautiful cables:

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Why haven’t I finished it? Partly, I suppose, because I have gained weight since I started this project, and partly because the fronts are really fiddly and I can’t find the enthusiasm to finish.  But maybe, subconsciously, the lack of Shelter love has contributed to this project languishing for so long.

Interestingly I have knit two projects from Brooklyn Tweed’s fingering weight wool, Loft, which shares a lot of the properties of Shelter.  These are my Carpino sweater, designed by Carol Feller (blogged here):

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and my Escher cardigan, designed by Alexis Winslow, which I have blogged about extensively (here is a link to the Escher posts):

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For some reason I find the feel of this yarn less annoying in a fingering weight than in a worsted.

I do think that blocking will work wonders with this wool and that the finished cardigan will be cool.  Perhaps that experience will make me weigh up Shelter and find it worth the effort.  There are a lot of Brooklyn Tweed designs calling my name.  Jared has brought some fabulous designers on board and I love so many of the things they are creating.   I must admit, however, that the next time I knit a BT design, I am likely to substitute the wool.

Spring Projects

Yesterday was a gorgeous day; the kind of day that said “Spring is here!”  The sun was shining.  There were lambs in the fields.  The outdoor cafes were filled with happy people.  And I got spring yarn in the mail!

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This is the yarn that I special ordered weeks ago, in the cold bite of winter, anticipating spring kntting.  It is Merino Silk Fingering by The Uncommon Thread, a blend of 50% wool and 50% silk in the shade called Citrus.  It is mouth-wateringly yummy, sunshine-y and zesty.  It makes me happy.

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A few posts ago I was lamenting the fact that I had nothing on my needles; I was on the prowl for some new projects.  Now I have three projects for spring.  Yesterday, Doug photographed all my new yarn just for you.  See how gorgeous and rich the orange is in the sunshine?  The secret is that the wool and the silk take up the dye differently, giving amazing depth to the colour.  And look at the beautiful Rowan Kidsilk Eclipse – I love how sometimes you can see the metallic sparkle and sometimes you can’t.  See the hint of sparkle in the above photo?

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And here they are mixing with the heathery grey of the Brooklyn Tweed Loft.  Three pretty yarns, three spring sweaters (all for me)!  So what am I making?  The Loft will be Escher – a lovely lightweight geometric cardigan designed by Alexis Winslow for Brooklyn Tweed.  I am knitting it in the same lovely shades of grey  (such a shame this beautiful phrase has been co-opted) as the pattern photo:

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

I love the above photo; it makes this cardi look so light, soft, cozy and stylish.

I ordered the orange yarn specifically to make Aisance, a beautiful spring cardigan designed by Kirsten Johnstone:

© Carrie Bostick Hoge

© Carrie Bostick Hoge

© Carrie Bostick Hoge

© Carrie Bostick Hoge

I love the idea of knitting this in a bright pop of juicy orange.  The silk blend will give it drape and swing and fluidity.  It’s the perfect cardigan to wear with a pretty summer dress.

What about the Rowan Eclipse?   I’ve been busy this week, knitting away:

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I am pretty captivated with the yarn which literally knits up light as air.  It is a chameleon, changing in every light.

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But what will it be?  Shhh….it’s a secret!

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Loft in the post

There are few things as cheering as yarn in the post.  Today, I received a package of Brooklyn Tweed Loft yarn in three rustic shades of grey.

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I am hours away from finishing my Lightweight Pullover.  Once it’s done, I will have only one – yes, just ONE – project in progress.  That one is the beautiful Exeter jacket which seems to be hibernating at the moment.  I love it, but I don’t feel like knitting it this winter, so I have put it away till next year.  As every knitter knows, it is an imperative to have a new project lined up before you finish with the old.  I simply cannot face the prospect of having no project on the needles. Therefore, I have been wracking my brain for weeks trying to come up with a new project or two.  I finally chose something.  Hence, the Loft:

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This beautiful pile of soft, wooly yarn is destined to become this:

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

This pattern is called Escher, and is designed by Alexis Winslow for Brooklyn Tweed; it appeared in their Wool People volume 8.  I love its unusual, funky construction.  Here is a shot of the back:

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

It was a rather compulsive purchase.  I have been considering many other patterns over the past few months.  I have looked at this one a number of times without it ever standing up and shouting “Knit me!”  But a few days ago, I came upon it again and it hit all of the right buttons.  I was looking for a lightweight cardigan that would fit well with my wardrobe.  I didn’t want something too warm as it is unlikely I will finish it before spring.  I wanted something interesting and fun to knit but not overly complicated.  I love the way this is styled in the photographs.  It looks new, stylish, slightly architectural, modern, but still cozy.  I love the soothing greys and the soft wool.

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I am so excited to have a new project ready to start!  Let’s just hope I have the fortitude to finish the turtleneck before I cast this on.

I will let you in on a secret: because one project is not enough, I have picked out another one too, which is as different from this one as day from night.  The yarn is being hand-dyed to order and won’t get to me for a while so you will have to be patient.

I seem to be stuck in a purple theme

I finished knitting my Carpino sweater weeks ago.  After doing all of the finishing and trying it on, I decided it was too short, so I ripped out the ribbing, and re-knit it a few inches longer.  With my busy schedule, that took a while.  Then, it took an entire week to get some photos of it.  So, here, a little delayed but better late than never, is the finished project:

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This is my first time knitting with Brooklyn Tweed Loft.  I must say the yarn is not what I expected.  The knitted fabric is very fleece-like; it really has the feel of a sweatshirt.  I am not sure what I think about this – after all, if you wanted to wear a sweatshirt then why knit a sweater?  On the other hand, I’ve only been wearing it a week so I would still like to reserve judgement.  There is no denying that the colours of Loft, like its sister worsted yarn, Shelter, are rich and tweedy and lovely.  I wish I had used one of the lighter colours to knit this as the lovely lacey pattern on the front is somewhat obscured in this dark purple.  I tried wearing it with a white tank underneath so that the lace would show up, but it wasn’t the most successful of styles:

1-IMG_8626 Still, it is a nice photo of the shape of the sweater.  If I were to knit this again, I would use a different yarn and a much paler colour (I keep imagining it in a silk blend in a very pale blue or pearl grey).

The pattern is Carpino, and is designed by Carol Feller of Stolen Stitches.  I really like Carol’s designs, and as this is the third one I’ve knit, I knew that the fit would be good and the pattern would be clear.  I was not disappointed.  Except for making it longer and using my normal bindoff (rather than the super stretchy one she recommends) I made no changes to this at all.  It’s knit exactly to pattern.  It is an extremely well-written and intuitive pattern and quite a fun knit.   I have at least two other Carol Feller sweaters on my short list, so its unlikely to be my last.

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I realize that my last three projects have all been purple.  I seem to be stuck in a purple theme here.  In a complete and total change of subject, for some reason this reminded me of the purple man, a character from my childhood.  When I was in junior high school, my dad lived in Manhatten, just off Central Park West, and my sisters and I used to visit him on the weekends.  One of the neighborhood characters was a man who was always dressed entirely in purple – purple coat, vest, shirt, trousers, socks, shoes, hat, tie.  He even rode a purple bicycle.  We would see him frequently and to us he was a beloved part of New York – like the pickle man on the lower East Side.  Once, after many years of seeing the purple man on his own, we were out walking with Daddy and came across the purple man walking hand-in-hand with a purple woman, also dressed head-to-toe in purple.  It was a magical moment, one in which I really thought that there was someone special out there for everyone.

4-IMG_8640Doug took the above photo in our back garden, just as the light was going, late in the evening.  I think its kind of pretty.   In fact, Doug took 171 photos of me in this sweater, so that I could find a few good ones to show you.  I’ve put on weight since I started knitting it (business school should come with a warning label – “Business school makes you fat!”).  There were photos that looked like this:

2-IMG_8627And photos that looked like this:

3-IMG_8641And there were about 150 photos that vanity won’t allow me to publish.

I submitted a big paper this week for b-school, so tonight I am on holiday.  I have poured a glass of wine and plan to pick up my needles and knit something not-purple.

 

When you are on your own, there’s no one to hold the yarn

I have been on my own for three weeks.  Regulars to this blog will know that both my kids are half way across the world in Vancouver at university.  My husband Doug has been in Malaysia for three weeks on business.  I realized the other day that we are equally dispersed around the world in terms of time zones – the girls are currently 8 hours behind me, I am 8 hours behind Doug and he is 8 hours behind the girls.  This makes for difficulties in communication.

But I am here to tell you, communication be damned – this makes for difficulties in knitting!  I am, despite a super busy schedule, knitting away on the ultra-cute Carpino designed by Carol Feller.  I just now bound off the ribbing on the body:

1-IMG_8203I have discovered that there are two major problems with knitting (and knit blogging) while on your own.  First, there is no one to hold the yarn.  Yes, I know that many knitters wind yarn on their own with the use of a swift.  I, however, don’t have one and have always relied on the method of bullying some poor family member into sitting with their hands up in the air while I wind skeins into balls.  (Leah even has a special music mix saved for listening to while immersed in this task.)  I suppose it is time to invest in a swift.  (I must point out, however, that the yarn used for Carpino, Loft by Brookln Tweed, is a very fragile, breakable yarn and I prefer to wind this one the old fashioned way.)

4-IMG_8209The second problem is that there is no one to take any modelled photographs.  I have no proof to offer you, but this baby fits great!  I have made absolutely no modifications to the pattern – none, nada, zip – and the fit is perfect.  I can’t show you, however, because I can’t both wear it and photograph it.  (But what, you may ask, about the now-standard selfie taken in front of the bathroom mirror?  No, no and no.  For reasons why not, please see this delightful post on how not to photograph your knitting written by Emma, my daughter and partner-in-crime.)

There is also the related problem that among the family members, all of whom are frequently called upon to be blog photographer, I am probably the least skilled in this arena.  Thus the top photo, which as you see, has a shadow falling across the sweater.  Sorry, Emma, I know this is not up to your standards!

6-IMG_8211One of the very cute features of this sweater is that the front is knit in a tiny lace stitch and the rest is knit in stockinette.  Above is a photo of the side ‘seam’  (of course there is no actual seam as it is knit in the round).  Isn’t it lovely?  It is such a cute pattern and so easy and intuitive to knit.  I also love the flecks of colour in the Loft. This purple-y colour is called Plume and it has lovely flecks of reds and blues.

Now, all I have left is the sleeves and some very minimal finishing at the neckline.  First, however, I need to wind another skein.  My plan is to drape it over my knees and wind it by hand.  Having done this before in times of emergency, I can tell you that it involves a fair amount of contortion and looks rather silly.  Good thing there’s no one around to take a photo!

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Comfort knitting

Life has been busy.  I wrote my first paper for b-school last week, and my reading list has gone through the roof.  I needed a simple project to knit – something peaceful, something easy.  I was not only looking for comfort knitting; I was looking for comfort.  I wanted to knit a sweater for myself that would be easy to wear, something to throw on with my jeans while I was busy studying.  I didn’t want much shaping.  I also wanted a pattern that I could be absolutely sure of – no fiddling, no reinterpretations, no maths, no mods.  Something that I knew would fit perfectly just as it was written.  In short, I wanted something by Carol Feller.

Last year, I knit only four sweaters.  The year before I knit eight, and two were designed by Carol Feller.  Those were my Killybegs cardigan:

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and my Ravi:

IMG_5469What I needed to fill my comfort knitting craving was another helping of something Carol.  This something:

Carpino_1_medium2This is Carpino, designed by Carol Feller for Brooklyn Tweed and published in Wool People 6.  It is knit with BT Loft, a yarn that I had wanted to try for a while (it’s basically a fingering weight version of Shelter).  I ordered the yarn on a complete whim (from my favorite, Loop, in London) and it arrived the very next day!  Doug was in Denmark and the girls are both in Canada, so I had to shanghai a co-worker during our lunch hour to help me wind a ball.  Despite the paper I was busily researching and writing (or maybe because of it) I cast on immediately.

Today is a lovely, lazy Saturday.  The paper is submitted, Doug is back home and the sun is shining (at long last!).  I have finished the yoke, divided off the sleeves, and started knitting the body, so I was able to try the sweater on for size:

2-IMG_8195And what do you know?  The fit is perfect.   No fuss, straight-up comfort knitting.  The only uncomfortable thing about this was standing in the wind in the cold (4 degrees today) in a tank top and trying not to shiver while Doug took these photos.

3-IMG_8185The photo above shows the beautiful shaping of the shoulder. It also picks up the flecks of colour in the yarn – see the reds and blues?  Boy, do I love tweed!  (There is definitely some rolling going on at the back neck, which I hope a good block will fix, because I really like the I-cord edging on the pattern, and don’t want to put in ribbing to control this.)  Rarely does a sweater fit just right at this point and I often find myself ripping back to before the division and recalculating things.  Even the fit across the back is good:

5-IMG_8187This yarn is one that knitters either love or hate.  So far, I seem to be in the “love” camp.  The yarn is very fine and breakable and I think some knitting styles must “pull” at the yarn too much causing it to snap.  I haven’t had any trouble and find it amazingly soft and pretty.  I will need to wash and wear it a bit before I can make a true judgement, but so far so good.

The pattern comes with some comments from Carol.   She says

“I love the casual nature of sweatshirts but I wanted to add just a little more interest.  The addition of a honeycomb lace panel at the front and delicate shoulder shaping makes this a very distinctive knitted sweatshirt.”

Yes, that’s just what I was looking for – comfort knitting at it best.