Goodbye, Levenwick

I have been trying to decide for some time which of my knits to feature in my next Wearability Wednesday post.  In the WW series, I re-visit a garment I’ve knitted and examine it in terms of wearability.  I try to address the questions:  Do I actually wear it?  If so, how do I style it?  What do I wear it with?  Do I dress it up or down?  If it doesn’t get worn, then why not?  What doesn’t work about it?  Is it a fit issue, or just a poor choice in garment style?

I finally decided to focus this week on Levenwick, a design by Gudrun Johnston for Brooklyn Tweed; published in BT’s Wool People, vol. 1.   Here is the pattern photo for Levenwick:

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

I instantly loved this pattern (though I hate the headscarf).  I was certainly not the only one.  Levenwick has proved to be very popular.  Interestingly, when I look at my blog statistics, one of the most frequently used search terms is Levenwick; a lot of knitters are clearly interested in the pattern.  (Levenwick is also the name of a small village in Shetland, but I imagine most of those searching for it are looking for the cardigan.  Maybe that’s knitting-centric of me?)

I knit Levenwick in September and October of 2011.  I used Cascade 220 in a very pretty teal.  I have written a number of posts about Levenwick, which can be found here (this will link to all the Levenwick posts, including this one, scroll down to read the older ones).  Here is one of the photos we took when it was first finished:

IMG_0118Emma took this photo, and I really like it.  I love the way it looks against the peeling wall and I especially love the contraposition of the teal and the rust.  You can see that the Cascade looks great, the stitches beautiful and uniform.  But you can also see that the fit is not good.  The whole area around the shoulders and yoke is awful and the fabric bunches.  You can imagine, with Emma in charge of the photo, that this is as good as Levenwick ever looked on me.  This photo is the result of Emma adjusting and pulling and re-adjusting, and me not moving.  As soon as I move, even the slightest bit, the bunching looks worse.

Knowing what I do now about the fit issues I had with Levenwick, I can see some of it in the pattern photo.  Though not as pronounced as mine, you can see the fabric bubbling under the model’s chin.  I still think the pattern is lovely, and many knitters have made great-fitting versions of Levenwick.  However, try as I might, I found my version of this cardigan to be pretty unwearable.

Now, when I wasn’t holding completely still and pulling the sweater into place just so, the poor fit became even more pronounced:

IMG_3535The above photo was taken in the stands at the Olympics (a fabulous day watching the rowing).  You can see how happy I was to be there.    You can also see that this sweater doesn’t fit at all.  It just doesn’t.

Here’s another photo, from the same day, taken from a different angle (and yes, that is me, knitting at the Olympcs – Score!):


Let’s face facts: it doesn’t fit.  I tried to wear it, I really did.  I tried it buttoned all the way up.  I tried just buttoning the top buttons.  I tried just buttoning the bottom buttons.  I tried leaving it open (a real no-no).  I am usually good at knitting a garment that will fit properly.  One of the problems with the fit is that the pattern starts by knitting a long strip of lace for the collar and then picks up stitches and knits down.  The collar, however, is really too wide, so no amount of adjusting the pattern as you knit is going to make it fit.  The only way I could have gotten a better fit was to rip the whole thing out and start over with a much narrower strip of lace.  In addition, the raglan sleeve increases just didn’t work out at all.  This could result from my gauge rather than the pattern; my stitch gauge was spot on but my row gauge was off.  Raglan decreases are one of those areas where the right row gauge is essential.

On Saturday morning, I finished knitting Leah’s February scarf and blocked it.  Afterwards, I decided to grab my Levenwick and take some more photos in preparation for writing this post.   This is what I found:

IMG_6115A moth hole!  Holey moley!  (Pun intended.)  Now, I could probably fix this.  But, I rationalized, why fix the hole when I’m not going to wear the sweater?  And before you could say “Goodbye, Levenwick” I had the scissors out and started cutting.


This sweater took a very long time to frog.  Because of the way it’s constructed, frogging was not straightforward.  I put on my headphones and listened to an audiobook (Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold; very enjoyable start to the Vorkosigan series) and spent hours steadily ripping it out.  (Frogging, by the way, is the highly technical term we knitters use to denote ripping out your knitting. I have been told it’s because you “Rip it! Rip it!” – which sounds like the English word for what frogs say.)

I no sooner finished frogging, then I grabbed some needles and started to knit.  I didn’t even take the time to steam out the kinks in the yarn.  (The knitting thus looks pretty uneven but I am fairly certain it will steam out when I block it.)  And what, you may ask, am I knitting?  Well, you will have to stay tuned to this spot to find out.


A smidgeon of knitting

A smidgeon of knitting.  It has a ring to it.  Perhaps like an unkindness of ravens?  A murmuration of starlings? A bevy of beauties?  An absence of waiters?  A prey of lawyers?  Perhaps not.  But when I think of this month, I definitely come up with a smidgeon of knitting.  The rest of the knitting world seems to be on fire this month, but I am moving at a snail’s pace.

IMG_5936I have managed to finish the sleeves on Emma’s Venetian Audrey.  The sleeves are endless tubes of ribbing knit on DPNs.   I hate knitting sleeves.  I especially hate knitting sleeves in the round.  And I especially, especially hate knitting the second sleeve.  These sleeves also seem extra long, but before she left Emma said “Make sure you make the sleeves long enough.  The sleeves on your Audrey are inches too short on me.”  Here is a shot showing the pieces of Emma’s Audrey on top of my finished Audrey.

IMG_5943It looks impossibly skinny but you have to remember that mine has been blocked and washed and worn countless times and the ribs have relaxed.  Notice, Emma, the sleeves are really long.  Promise.  We had a hard time getting the colours to look right with the lighting today.  Here is a better shot:

IMG_5941Why is there a bowl of chili peppers in my knitting shot?  Because they are pretty, that’s why!  See?

IMG_5938While I am busy writing this post, Doug is in the kitchen whipping up a batch of Thai green curry paste, using these lovely chillies.  We will have butternut squash and eggplant curry for dinner (following this recipe more or less; try it – it’s great).  We are using the last of the lime leaves and curry leaves and black peppercorns that Doug brought back from his last trip to Malaysia. Luckily, he is going again this week and can refill our larder.

In addition to the endless sleeve knitting, I have also managed a bit of scarf knitting on my February scarf.

IMG_5928This is fun to knit and the Quince & Co Osprey is perfect, soft and wooly.  It is going to make a lovely scarf.  Hopefully, I willl manage to finish it while there is still cold weather to wear it in.

IMG_5929The scarf may have to compete for my affections, however.  Look what I just received in the mail:


Yes, dear readers, this is a great, giant bowl filled with Shelter yarn from Brooklyn Tweed. (A meringue of Shelter?  A cauldron of Shelter?  A shedload of Shelter?) Fourteen fabulous skeins of Shelter in the colour ‘fossil’.  I have never used Shelter before, but have finally been coerced into buying it, by the unbelievably beautiful designs that Jared and his team of great designers keep turning out.

What do I plan to knit with this?  The Exeter Jacket, designed by Michelle Wang for Brooklyn Tweed Spring Thaw:

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

copyright Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

This is a completely gorgeous double-breasted cabled jacket, but you cannot appreciate it until you see the back:

copyright Jared Flood/ Brooklyn Tweed

copyright Jared Flood/ Brooklyn Tweed

Be still my heart!  As you can see, I will have to get a move on and turn my smidgeon  into a banquet of knitting.

Warm Hands, Cold Feet

I have been working on a really great knitting project which I had hoped to blog about today.  But if truth be told, I have had a stressful week, and I have just had a lovely dinner (cooked by Doug) and have a glass of good wine by my side, so I will instead write a quick post about two recently finished projects, and save the new sweater for another day.

Those of you familiar with this blog will know that I am not big on knitting socks, gloves, hats, mittens, shawls and all of those other non-sweater items in the knitter’s repetoire.  I have an affinity for knitting sweaters.  But those other things are really good at keeping one’s hands, feet, head and neck warm.  In October, I finally got tired enough of cold hands to knit up some fingerless gloves.  My feet are still cold, and likely to remain that way.

First up, I knit a pair of very cute mitts for my daughter Leah, who is working a bit of a red vibe lately.

They look great with Leah’s coat (from Desigual).  This pattern is for the Nalu mitts, designed by Leila Raabe (the pattern is available for free on Ravelry).  I knit them with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which is a blend of wool, microfibre and cashmere.  I used one ball of yarn to make the pair, and had just a few metres left over.   I would like them even better if they were an inch longer, but of course then you would need a second ball of yarn.

I knit these with a smaller needle than called for in the pattern.  I used a 3mm instead of a 3.25mm, and the slightly tighter gauge works well.  These mitts are fun to knit and fun to wear.  I think that Leah has worn them non-stop for the last three weeks.

Leila Raabe is one of the designers working with Jared Flood at Brooklyn Tweed  (if you don’t know Brooklyn Tweed it is well worth checking out – Jared is a great designer and photographer and has put together a really skilled and creative in-house design team).  Leila has had some lovely designs published in the last few years and has been on my radar for a while (mostly for her sweater patterns, of course).  So I was very happy to test drive one of her smaller patterns.  The design is very whimsical and eye-catching, and I highly recommend it.

For myself, I also chose to knit with Baby Cashmerino, but in a completely luscious grey.  This grey has to be seen to be appreciated; it is rich, gorgeous, luminous (and I just happened to have two balls of it sitting in my stash).  I chose to knit the pattern called Green Thumb, by Diana Foss.  You can find it on her blog, Mooseknits.  These mitts are knit in 2×2 rib, and are ambidextrous (both mitts are identical – there is no distinction between the left and right one).

The ribbing makes them very stretchy and warm, and the Baby Cashmerino is lovely and soft.  I also knit these with a 3mm needle, which is a size smaller than the pattern calls for.  Like the Nalu mitts, this pattern also calls for one ball of yarn, and so the mitts are short.  I made these longer, adding 8 extra rows of rib before the thumb gussets and including the optional five extra rows at the fingers.  This means I had to break into the second ball of yarn, but to me the extra length was worth it.  Given the tiny needles and the rib, there are a lot of stitches in these; each mitt has over 5000 stitches.  (Yes, I counted; I am a nerd that way.)  The thing that makes this pattern is the thumb gussets:

Aren’t they great?  I love this; such a simple, but innovative design.  Once you see them, it seems so obvious that a thumb gusset is shaped just like a leaf pattern.  I really think these are incredibly elegant.  I have worn them every day at work, thus keeping my hands warm while sitting at my desk typing.

Hopefully, next week I will bring you my totally cool new project; in the meantime, I am here with warm hands (and cold feet).