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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Subtitled: “in which things move from the ordinary to the ridiculous”
Alternatively subtitled: “do I have to send her to a doctor?”
Emma (via email): “On a related note, while searching, I found this tweed pattern which I absolutely love. I feel like its far too complicated for me to start out with, but if you felt like making me something, I’d get a lot of wear out of it. Maybe this would be a moss green opportunity (though I really do like the brick colour). Let me know what you think. [Links to Tinder by Jared Flood; see photo below.] (As usual, I still have some potential modification suggestions…)”
Emma (via email): “Thinking on this a little more, I am really quite taken with the sweater. If you felt like doing it there are two lovely colorways in shelter – birdbook and artifact. I think either one would look really great!”
Kelly (via email): “Hi Emma, by amazing coincidence I am going to Loop this evening for knit night. I would need to buy 9 skeins of shelter for Tinder (I think I would make the second size – it should have 2″ of ease – the pattern says 8 but you have long arms so I would buy 9 to be sure). I kind of think I like artifact better, but they only have 6 skeins. I will look at the birdbook and see what I think. I am worried that it will be more brash than mossy but will have to see IRL. I think the sweater would also be lovely in wool socks or in artifact, both of which are in stock. I will check out the shelter today.”
Kelly (via email): “I bought the birdbook. I looked at the three greens they have in shelter – tent, bird book and artifact – and decided that bird book is really the only one I liked. The artifact is very gloomy, with blue undertones and the tent is just weird.”
Emma (via text): “Yeah I didn’t like tent very much, and that’s exactly what I had been thinking about the difference between bird book and artifact. Yay! 🙂 I still want to run some ideas about the bottom by you (basically I think there’s too much ribbing at the bottom but I still like the length). At work now, I’ll call you tomorrow if I don’t get off until late xoxo”
Kelly (via text): “i am happy you picked out a sweater for me to knit. i like knitting things for you. have fun at work. talk tomorrow.”
Kelly (via email): “Did you read my post?”
Emma (via email): “I didn’t realise it had my swatch in it!! I love it!! You haz zee go ahead!!”
Kelly (via email): “sorry. i want clarification here. are you giving me the go-ahead to knit your sweater with this yarn? you don’t feel as if you need me to mail you the sample first? (I would love to start it today as I am projectless, but I really don’t want you to decide you don’t like it later. I can always find something else to knit…..) the photo on the blog is what it looks like outside in natural light. it is slightly darker and more olive-y inside and in the evening. let me know.”
Emma (via email): “did you start the tinder sweater already? i just searched for projects done in artifact and some of them are really quite lovely. just have a look and tell me what you think. it’s hard to tell the difference between the green qualities”
Kelly (via email): “Hey Chica, I already started it. I really did not like the artifact when I saw it in the shop. But I can put a hold on it and send you the sample.”
Kelly (via email): “hi em, i had decided to order a skein of artifact and knit up a swatch and then send you both swatches to decide between. it turns out that loop only has 5 skeins in stock (and I need 9). I can go ahead and do that anyway, and then if you decide on the artifact, i will have to wait until they get a new shipment, but there is probably one due in the early fall. i am willing to do that if you want. I have only just finished the ribbing on the bottom back and have still only used one skein of yarn.”
Kelly and Emma (via phone!!!)
[30 minutes of discussion on how difficult it is to rely on the colours on the computer screen and exactly what shade of green Birdbook is; this is a little like trying to describe the taste of a bottle of wine: “it is really foresty, but with a smidgeon of grass, and some berry thrown in for good measure”]
Kelly: “Hey Em, I figured out something. I will send you a photo of the Tinder swatch using Birdbook, next to the left-over ball of green from your Carnaby skirt. Since you know the shade of the skirt, then you can compare the two colours and the computer screen will cease to be an issue.”
Emma: “That’s a great idea!”
Kelly: (via email): “hey chica, i looked through about 47 bags of yarn to find a left-over ball from carnaby. success! just took a photo of it next to the birdbook swatch and hopefully mailed it to you from my phone. this is mailed straight, without any colour touch-ups. seeing them next to each other makes me more convinced this is what you want. i was afraid that the birdbook would be too bright, but compared to the carnaby it is much richer, darker, with more olive and moss tones, while still being much more green than artifact. if you like it, that is good, because i am going crazy with nothing to knit. (but, still, if you aren’t sure just tell me – its not like i don’t have any yarn on hand.)”
[Note: Below is a photo of Emma’s Carnaby skirt, and the photo of the yarn next to swatch in BT Shelter in Birdbook.]
Emma (via email): “Perfect! You may proceed!”
Kelly (via email): “wow! that was fast! OK – full steam ahead!”
Later that day:
Kelly and Emma (via phone!):
Emma: “We need to have a discussion about the length for Tinder.”
Kelly: “What about the length?”
Emma: “Well, I want the pattern stitch to go to right at my hip bones, and then the ribbing should stop just at the point where my fingers hit when I am standing with my arms down.”
Kelly: “What do you mean? The sweater is designed so that the length of the arms is identical to the lengths of the body; they are coordinated. The ribbing is the same length for both. It should be long and come past your wrists and down over the base of your thumb. You can always roll them up. But part of what makes the sweater great is the coordination between the sleeves and the body.”
Emma: “Yes, but we both already know my arms are longer than most. If we are making the sleeves longer anyway, and trying to mimic the proportions on the model photo, the ribbing has to be longer!”
Kelly: “Ok, yes that makes sense.”
Emma: “How long is it now?”
Kelly: “It’s at what the pattern asked for – just over 4 inches.”
Emma: “Really? It doesn’t look like that in the photo…. Ok, I don’t have a measuring tape, but when I was looking at home I decided the ribbing should be about the length of my phone. How long is your phone?”
Kelly: “I don’t know. We don’t have the same phone though.”
Emma: “True. Darn. Ok, well my phone is just under the length of my hand. Your hands are a little smaller than mine right? So like, the length from the tip of your middle finger to the base of your hand. That should be the length. Right? How long is that? Do you have a tape measure?”
Kelly: “Give me a minute….That’s about 6 inches! That’s pretty long for the rib. But you’re right, the picture looks much longer than 4 inches.”
Emma: “That’s what I thought!”
Kelly: “Don’t worry; I think I know exactly how long to make this thing.”
Emma: “Just remember, the pattern stitch has to start just below my hip bones, but I’m long in both the legs and the waist. So proportionally the pattern is supposed to hit about a third of the way down my thigh. But four inches on me would only hit quarter thigh! The sweater is supposed to look intentionally long, not like an unfortunately slightly-too-long sweater. So rib from just above mid thigh to just below hip, and pattern stitch from just below hip up. Right? So, hand-length rib.”
Kelly: “Now I’m confused. What you want is for the pattern part to be long as a whole? So that the pattern hits the hip right.”
Emma: “Wait no. Now I’m confused. I think we’re saying different things. I don’t have a tape measure so this is confusing. It just has to hit just right at the hip.”
Kelly: “Ok let’s go back a step. The pattern calls for 18″ from arm hole to base. With 4 inches of ribbing, that makes 14 inches of pattern… That’s shorter than I would knit a normal sweater for you that hits at the hip! I see now; that’s too short. So, really I just need to knit more of the pattern stitch and not more of the rib.”
Emma: “Yes. That’s right. But knit more of the rib anyway. Four inches is just weird. We want intentional ribbing, not oops-we-were-watching-tv-and-knit-too-much-ribbing-and-didn’t-want-to-rip ribbing.”
Kelly: “Got it.”
Kelly (via phone): “I think i will have to re-knit the ribbing. I checked the gauge on the pattern stitch and hit it with a size 8. The pattern says to knit the ribbing with a needle two sizes smaller than gauge needle, so I knit it with a 6, but it seems kind of narrow. I have had this problem with other Brooklyn Tweed patterns. In fact, I once wrote to Brooklyn Tweed pattern support, during the Super Bowl, to ask how I was supposed to get the same gauge knitting 2×2 ribbing with a small needle as I do knitting stockinette with a two-sizes-larger needle. And they wrote back to me, DURING THE SUPER BOWL, to say, basically, and I paraphrase here, “Block the s**t out of it!”
Emma: “Well, ok, that’s sounds fine I guess? I trust your knitting instincts though either way.”
Kelly (via email): “By the way, I decided that the ribbing was ok that I had already knit. I looked at a lot of the Tinders on Ravelry and decided that it only looks good when it is long and lean. So I don’t want to err on the side of too wide. Thus, I have gone ahead and already have 7 inches of the back knit. Woo hoo! It also looks as if I should knit the sleeves a size smaller (but not in terms of length) because many people mention that the sleeves are too wide).”
Emma (via email): “what do you mean about too wide? i thought width was never an issue, just the length of the ribbing? so is it still 4″ of rib?”
Kelly (via email): “No, it’s not too wide. I made the ribbing just over 5″ long. It looks good. But, once blocked, it should be about 20″ wide and it’s not that wide. I was going to switch to a bigger needle and knit it again so it would be a bit wider, but decided that it was going to loosen up a bit when washed. And I would rather err on long and lean than on wide.”
Emma (via email): “yeah also it’s not the kind of sweater i’d wear buttoned up all the time!”
Kelly (via email): “exactly!”
Emma (via email): “WAIT 20″?!? Is that with ease?? because my ass is 38″ in circumference…..”
Emma (via email): “like I agree it will loosen when washed, but is 20″ even enough??”
Kelly (via email): “Ok, maybe I should start over, cause it’s about 14 inches wide without blocking. Look at the schematics on the pattern. I was aiming for the second size ( the 34) so the back is supposed to be 20 across the bottom and 17 and a bit at the chest. Let me know if the schematics seem right to you.”
Emma (via email): “omg i’m an idiot. In my mind everything you knit for me is in one piece. So i thought it was going to be 20 inches in total. but there’s two front pieces. its going to be totally fine I’m just a moron”
Kelly (via email): Ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Emma (via email): “i was busy thinking, “how on earth does mom think 20 inches would be wide enough for the bottom of the sweater??? do i have to send her to a doctor??? who wrote this pattern?????”
It is sadly true that ordering yarn over the internet, based on how it looks on your computer screen, is a gamble. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Having just finished up two sweaters (the adorable baby sweater blogged here and the beautiful cardigan for Leah which I will highlight next weekend), I needed to cast-on a new project. I have wanted to try Sparrow, the 100% linen yarn from Quince & Co. for quite some time. I have also been enjoying the linen tee shirt Sel Gris by Claudia Eisenkolb which I knit last August, and I have had my eye on another linen tee from her linen collection, Pimenton. Here is the pattern photo of Pimenton, which uses three colours of Sparrow linen:
I believed this would be a quick knit and would produce a comfortable linen top which could be dressed up or down and thrown in the dryer to boot. I spent a very long time looking at the available shades of Sparrow on my laptop, and ended up ordering Citron for the main colour and Maize and Pink Grapefruit for the contrast colours. In my head, I was envisioning a zesty lime green, a vibrant yellow and a orange-y shade of pink. What I got was very muted, pastel-y, desert tones, with a very pink “pink grapefruit” (you think I could have guessed from the name), a soft buttery yellow and a barely distinguishable (from the yellow) slightly green-tinged yellow.
Being someone who could live with denial (and having nothing else to knit at the time) I cast-on in the somewhat misguided belief that they would somehow transform themselves on the needle. The pink continued to be pink:
Adding the yellow did not help:
Here you can see it alongside the swatch, which I knit in the green, which is supposed to form the body of the pullover.
(These photos are proof of the inexact and fickle nature of colours on screen – none of these photos captures the shades properly; the yellow is closest in the middle photo, the pink in the last photo, and the green is actually much more muted and yellow-y than shown above). This seriously wasn’t doing anything for me, though I continued to press ahead, firmly in denial-land. It is not that these colours are not pretty in their way; it is just that they are definitely not “me”. My friend Inge, not known for mincing words, saw me knitting it this weekend and said “Kelly, those colours are vile on you!”
The interesting and sad part of this story is that I originally ordered them over the internet because I believed that I would not have an opportunity to get into London to the yarn shop for a few weeks. As chance would have it, I was in London on business a few days ago, and was able to make a very brief foray into Loop. There, I saw a basket full of Sparrow linen, and I have to tell you that Sparrow comes in the most luscious, glorious shades. I ended up buying six of them just because I couldn’t resist.
These colours are so spectacular! I couldn’t believe it: I loved every colour but the three which I ordered! Major colour fail!
I have decided to frog the Pimenton (perhaps to try again next summer), and I have not yet decided what to do with the six new shades.
In other colour news, just as I was leaving the house to rush into London, I received an email from Emma with a request for a sweater! How serendipitous! This was justification enough for a yarn-shopping detour in the city. Emma wants me to knit her Tinder, a cardigan designed by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed:
I have always liked this cardigan and am happy to knit it for her. She asked for a mossy green. They had three greens in Shelter (Brooklyn Tweed’s worsted weight yarn): Tent, which I deemed too blue; Artifact, which I thought was too gloomy, and Birdbook, which is very olive. I bought the Birdbook, which is really an army green shade, but since it is tweed, has bits of brighter tones – blues and reds and yellows. I whipped up a swatch last night, and am all good to go, but I can’t stop fretting about the colour. I really want to make sure that it is exactly what Emma wants before I knit it up (daughters can be very exacting)! I took a photo of the swatch, which shows off both the ribbing and the pretty pattern stitch: here it is, Emma!
But, of course, a problem remains; in fact the very problem I stated at the start of this post. It is nigh impossible to guarantee the colour you see on your screen compares to the colour in real life. So, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that my best option is to send the swatch to Emma and let her make up her mind.
This means, sadly, that I am back where I started a week ago – with nothing on my needles! Boo hoo.
bazinga – 1. A catchy phrase to accompany your clever pranks. As popularized by Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory). 2. A short post highlighting something that Emma and Kelly think is freaking fabulous.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written a Bazinga post. Today, I saw this absolutely gorgeous cardigan design and knew it was time to resurrect the bazinga! I sent a link to Emma, who was in agreement, so here you are:
This is the Tiber cardigan, created by designer Alexis Winslow. I swear its as if Alexis can read my mind. I have already knit her beautiful Escher, blogged here, and her very chic Zelda cloche, which I blogged about here. But with this cardigan it’s like she used a mind sweep on me to find exactly what kind of cardigan I would like. And then she made it even better:
Just as I was about to hit the “publish” button on this post, Brooklyn Tweed released its first Capsule Collection, featuring eight new designs in Brooklyn Tweed yarns by the amazingly talented Olga Buraya-Kefelian. I adore each and every one of them, but this one took my breath away:
Recently, I wrote a paper (for my MBA studies) about digital marketing and the yarn industry. While writing the paper, I looked at the range of producers in the sector, in particular new entrants. I also researched how people buy yarn, for example, what kinds of things influence when and how we buy yarn. This made me think about my own patterns of buying yarn. I don’t have a record of all the yarn that I buy and where and when I buy it; some people use Ravelry’s Stash function to keep track of this, but I am not that organized. However, I do have records of all of the projects that I have knit since joining Ravelry in late 2007, and of which yarns I used for each project. I looked at 2008, the first full year that I was on Ravelry, and discovered to my amazement that every single project I finished knitting in that year was made with Rowan yarn! I had only just moved to England in August of 2006 and was still very thrilled to be able to walk into my local John Lewis store and buy Rowan. That seemed the height of luxury at the time to my yarn-buying self.
I then compared 2008 with last year, 2014, and a very different picture emerged, as you can see from the below:
I must point out that these charts show the percentage of projects made with each yarn and NOT the amount of yarn bought; nonetheless, they show a pretty compelling trend. To me, the most interesting thing about the 2014 distribution is that with the exception of Rowan and Noro, which is a Japanese yarn company founded over 40 years ago, each of the other yarn companies I have used in 2014 is a new company: Madelinetosh started in 2006 and Brooklyn Tweed, Quince & Co and The Uncommon Thread all started in 2010. More than 80% of the projects I knit last year were made with yarn from companies that didn’t exist 10 years ago. New entrants into the sector are rapidly changing the market, at least for premium yarns.
I didn’t show pie charts for 2009-2013, but I am a pretty eclectic yarn user. During these years, in addition to lots of Rowan and the companies above, I knit projects using Debbie Bliss, Cascade, Studio Donegal, Hanne Falkenberg, Blue Sky Alpaca, Malabrigo, Mirasol, the Plucky Knitter, Blue Moon Fibre Arts, BC Garn and Wollmeise.
Though my Rowan projects have fallen from their 2008 pinnacle, I still find it a great product. In particular, I am totally in love with Kidsilk Haze, Felted Tweed DK and Fine Tweed. As long as Rowan keeps producing these (and maintaining quality), I will keep buying them. This year, I have so far made four projects, and two of them – the spectacular Soumak Wrap and my Gossamer pullover – used Rowan yarn. When I lived in Australia and Germany, I considered Rowan a luxury product; now that I’m in England, it is more like the standard for me – I use it as a benchmark to compare yarn prices and qualities.
I realize that my yarn-buying profile reflects the fact that I am willing to spend a lot for yarn. In my mind, both yarn and books fall into my entertainment budget. Let’s say that the yarn for a new sweater costs 100£. Well, if that sweater will take 100 hours to knit, then I am spending 1£/hour on entertainment. A bargain! (Compare to a cinema ticket!) A cashmere cowl that costs 120£ but takes only 10 hours to knit is very luxurious but still costs 12£/hour for knitting enjoyment. While I might splurge now and then, my general idea is that if the yarn costs less to knit per hour than a cup of coffee in a nice coffee shop, then it’s a good deal. This kind of thinking (where I consider the yarn as entertainment rather than part of my clothing, or gift, budget) is perhaps reflective of the fact that I am still more of a process knitter than a product knitter. On the other hand, for the past few years I have made fewer impulse yarn buys. I tend to buy yarn for a specific purpose and this seems to be more in line with a product knitter.
I think that part of my willingness to buy expensive yarn reflects the fact that I am knitting less these days. When I am knitting more, then I am conscious of cost and try to use more yarns that are good quality but affordable, like Cascade 220 for instance. I seem to be edging now into a more active knitting phase and I find that this is accompanied by a wish to search out some new affordable yarns (Quince & Co, while very high quality, is pretty affordable; it is moving up fast in my go-to list.) Having two daughters in university is another compelling reason to seek out more affordable yarns, or at least to knit fewer luxury projects. It is good to have a selection of yarns to knit with, and some of them should always be outrageously luxurious to the senses, because knitting, like cooking, is a sensual art. How about you? Are your yarn buying habits changing? Are you buying more, or less, luxury yarns? Do you calculate cost per hour of knitting (surely I’m not the only one)? Do you plan every purchase or are you an impulse buyer? Do you only buy local, or organic, or machine-washable? Inquiring minds want to know…….
In my last post, I chronicled my first attempts to modify the collar of the Escher Cardigan. This lovely design, by Alexis Winslow for Brooklyn Tweed, has a very interesting and fun structure. I knit most of this cardigan exactly to pattern. I made two very simple modifications, and one slightly more complicated one.
The first modification was merely technical: I decided to knit the upper and lower edgings separately and then sew them together. In the pattern, you knit the lower edging first, and then knit the upper edging, while joining it to the lower edging stitch by stitch at the ends of each row using short row construction. I found this a bit fussy (though I am sure it gives a neater edge) so I knit the upper edging back and forth. Here you can see how it looked before I sewed the edges together:
The second modification was a very tiny one: I used I-cord bind-off instead of a rolled garter stitch edge around the entire edging. To do this, I put the lower edging on a long needle to hold the stitches live while I knit the upper edging. Then, I sewed the two seams, and knit the I-cord around the entire joined edging. (This edging had almost 600 stitches, and took me four days to finish!) Here is how I did the I-cord:
*K3, sl 1 k-wise, k1, psso, sl all 4 sts back on left needle; rep from * until all sts have been worked. Four I-cord sts remain on needle. K4tog, break yarn and draw yarn through final st.
The I-cord looks great and very professional on both sides – this is important because the collar rolls back so both sides are visible. Here is a good photo that shows the I-cord:
For those of you who carefully read the last post, you can see in the above photo that I carried through on my threat to rip out the upper edging and start again – the shoulder decreases now line up with the triangle. If you recall, the issues I had with the upper edging were that the shoulder decreases in the pattern were too close together and that I needed more stitches on the needle to accomodate my gauge and to put a bit of extra “give” into the shawl collar. Due to all of the extra fabric between the shoulder decreases, I couldn’t get the back neck to narrow anything like it does in the pattern.
Alexis WInslow has a great photo of the back collar and shoulders on her blog post about Escher. It is the third photo from the top. Let me make this clear: I think this looks great. I love the pattern and that’s why I wanted to make this cardigan. But, it was clear that I couldn’t get the collar and shoulders of my Escher to mimic hers. This is due in part to my row gauge, which is always long, and meant that the edges of the triangle on my back were significantly wider (though they did line up with my shoulders). It is also due to having wide shoulders and wanting the shoulder decreases to shape the collar AT my shoulders rather than at the shoulder blades. I tried a number of things to fix this in my first attempt, which you can read about in my last post. Ultimately, I ripped out that attempt (about 5 inches worth) and started again.
The biggest problem with my first attempt was that I went way overboard with adding more stitches. I didn’t count, just picked up so it “felt” right. I ended up with 258 stitches picked up for the upper edging, compared with 186 specidied in the pattern for my size. This time, I was more modest with 218 (57 on each end and 104 across the back) – an increase of 32 over the pattern. I moved the shoulder decreases out to line up with the edges of the triangle, thus having the width between the shoulder decreases at least five inches wider than the pattern.
I decreased for four inches, and then knit four rows as set, and then started increasing. I put the increases at the same place as the decreases, except that I reversed the sides, so that the wrong side became the right side (since the collar would “fold over” when worn). Here you can see the shapings from the right side:
and from the wrong side:
I continued increasing right out to the very edge, and this gave the collar enough “give” so that the shawl collar lies beautifully:
The problem with knitting something in this shape (like any shrug-type garment) is that until you’ve finished and blocked it, the final fit is a bit of a crap shoot. But when you get it right, it’s pretty cool:
I left out the button hole because I was modifying the collar significantly enough that I wasn’t sure how to get it placed right. I have a lovely twig-shaped pewter shawl pin (a Christmas gift from Emma) that works perfectly:
I think it looks great both closed and opened. It is also quite cozy and warm and surprisingly easy to wear.
I had a few comments from people regarding my perseverance with this pattern; I don’t see it that way. I did do some ripping and put an awful lot of thought into how to modify the collar properly so that it fit me. And I did have conceptual problems with the upper edging instructions. However, the pattern is mostly crystal clear, and very clever; I really liked knitting this. Alexis Winslow’s blog post was extremely helpful (especially her photos of blocking it – not intuitive by any means without being able to see it). And Brooklyn Tweed has superior customer support. I also had wonderful help from Ravellers, particulalry Alice (Ellisj on Rav) – thanks Alice! It worked!
Emma is still around, so I had both Doug and Emma to make sure we got some decent photos:
As usual, when they are in charge, I spend most of the photo shoot laughing:
And that’s all the news that’s fit to print! Good knitting!
Now that I am no longer distracted by the lovely golden Gossamer pullover, I have gone back to knitting Escher.
I had stopped midway across the back centerpiece of this cardigan jacket, which is essentially a long rectangle with curved edges, and a triangle in the center shaped from short rows. (Yes, it’s kind of hard to describe.) This is close to where I stopped before:
And this is what it looks like today:
I have to say – I have no idea what this will end up looking like on and whether or not it will fit, but I am completely blown away by its construction! It is a piece of knitting genius! (Hopefully, I will still think this when I have finished it and tried it on.) This is one of those designs where you can read the pattern many times, yet it doesn’t make a lick of sense until you are doing it, and then it suddenly emerges from confusion.
The cardigan was designed by the ultra-talented Alexis Winslow for Brooklyn Tweed and published in Wool People 8. I try to envision how she designed it; I imagine her cutting up pattern paper and folding and twisting it like origami. For those who’ve forgotten, or are new to these pages, this is what the finished piece is supposed to look like:
I would not recommend this for a beginning knitter due to the complicated (but did I say genius?) construction. It will also put off anyone who doesn’t want to knit miles and miles of ribbing in fingering weight wool. Believe me – this cardi is 70% ribbing.
Regardless of how it eventually turns out, it is a learning experience, and miles of ribbing notwithstanding, a joy to knit.
I have just finished up a few intense weeks of work and study in which there was no time for knitting. I mean that in the broadest sense of the word. It was for all intents and purposes a period of Knitting, Interrupted. No knitting, no reading about knitting, no writing about knitting, no daydreaming about knitting. Even in those moments when I was idle, I was too tired to move, much less knit. My thanks to all those who left lovely comments on my last post and on Ravelry about my Lightweight Pullover; I was happy to read them.
Despite these past few weeks, I do have some knitting progress to share with you from before my knitting blackout.
As you may recall, I had picked out my next project, the very cute and architectural cardigan called Escher, by Alexis Winslow for Brooklyn Tweed:
As with all projects, the first step was the swatch. For this sweater, I needed to match a stockinette stitch gauge and a 2×2 ribbing gauge. I started fooling around with some swatches very late (around midnight) on a Sunday evening. I remember this because it was Superbowl Sunday, and here in the UK the coverage started around that time. I also remember it because I had a question about the gauge and I wrote an email to pattern support at Brooklyn Tweed. When I woke up the next morning, I discovered that my email had been answered within two hours of sending it, ON A SUNDAY, and DURING THE SUPERBOWL. There is no denying that is exceptionally good service.
My question was: “How can you get the same gauge in rib with a smaller needle, than you get in stockinette with a larger needle? This seems to me to be physically impossible: ribbing always draws in the stitch count, even when blocked; knitting it with a smaller needle should make it even tighter.”
The answer was: “The ribbing is blocked more aggressively to achieve the same gauge as the stockinette stitch. The ribbing will be more flattened out than it normally is.” Message to self: Be more aggressive.
One of the more interesting features of this cardigan is the triangle at the back which is formed with short rows. Here is a progress shot as I was starting the triangle:
The short rows are interesting and the way they shape the fabric quite mesmerizing. It is also pretty fast knitting. A warning, however: it is very easy to do the first side of the triangle, but you have to pay attention on the second. I kept miscounting and had to rip back twice. Finally, I marked each wrap-and-turn with a removable stitch marker so that I could see where I was.
In the Notebook section of the Brooklyn Tweed website, Jared Flood has a series of interviews with BT designers. The interview with Alexis Winslow is really interesting and it has a lovely discussion of the design process behind Escher. Alexis says:
“Escher was definitely a challenge for me. My original design concept didn’t have that beautiful V-shape–it was straight up and down like a stripe. I knitted the sample, and realized that I could achieve a much better fit if the armholes angled downward a bit. I went back to my sketchpad to work out solutions. There were a lot of different ways I could do this, but I decided the central triangle would be the most elegant way to solve this problem.”
Please check out the interview. I love that it shows some of Alexis’ sketches of the original design idea for Escher – before she added the triangle to the back. Alexis has recently written her own post about this design, which you can find here, which has even more info on the design and its development. She also has photos of it buttoned, which are missing from the Brooklyn Tweed shots. Anyone interested in the design process or in this lovely garment should read these posts.
Here is the most current progress shot, taken this morning:
I really love the way that the short rows change the direction of the knitting. It makes the piece very striking and fluid. I am nearly done with this portion of the cardigan and have come to the realization that two-thirds of this piece is ribbed. If you don’t like ribbing, this may not be the project for you. I am going to look at it philosophically: all of that aggressive blocking will help get rid of my frustrations. First I’ll knit myself into a Zen-state, and then I’ll pin the crap out of it. More proof of the health benefits of knitting!
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.
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:
This beautiful pile of soft, wooly yarn is destined to become this:
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.
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.
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:
and my Ravi:
What I needed to fill my comfort knitting craving was another helping of something Carol. This something:
This 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:
And 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.
The 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:
This 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.