Linen and tractors

Today, Doug and I drove out to the farm to pick up fresh produce. We shop weekly at Blue Tin Produce, a fantastic farm with a small farm shop and cafe, a short drive away from our home through lovely countryside. Before Covid, we used to sit outside of the shop on a sunny Sunday and have a coffee; now, it is a lifeline to the freshest produce and specialty foods, safely acquired. As we pulled up today, on a drizzly, chilly day in July, I realised three things: (1) I was wearing one of my hand-knitted sweaters, (2) it was Wednesday, and (3) it had been some time since I wrote a Wearability Wednesday post. And, ta-da!, a post is born.

In Wearability Wednesday posts, I re-visit a knitted garment and comment on its wearability and also its durability, paying attention to how I style it and wear it, and how it has aged. You can find all of these posts (in reverse chronological order) by following this tag.

This is a linen pullover which I knitted in 2015. You can see the newly-finished sweater, and read about some small modifications, in this blog post. The design is called Sel Gris [Ravelry link], and is by Claudia Eisenkolb. Here is one of the photos from that post:

The design incorporates some really nice details at the neckline, and ribbed sleeves which are picked up and knit down. It is a nice twist on a basic summer tee. I wear this one with jeans (as here) or shorts, depending on the weather. As it is 100% linen, it is perfect for steamy hot summer days, but it also works well on a drizzly day like today. I had lots of fun posing with the collection of old tractors at the Blue Tin.

I knit this with Shibui Knits Linen, a chainette style fingering-weight linen yarn, which has since been discontinued. However, Shibui Reed, also a 100% linen with a chainette structure, substitutes for this yarn. I have seen the Reed, and I think they are pretty much identical in feel. If you plan to use this yarn yourself, you may wish to read my post, The gauge swatch lies! , describing my first attempt at this pullover, before you cast on. Linen is hard to knit with; this one in particular I found to be a bit hard on the hands, as the texture adds some scratchiness. Once washed, however, the fabric becomes softer, and is quite comfortable to wear. I have washed this one many times, and it hasn’t warped like linen often does; you can see here that it still drapes really well:

I think for a 5 year-old sweater that has been washed and worn, thrown into suitcases, dressed up and down, and survived blasts of sand and salt water on beach walks, it still looks pretty good.

I have knitted a number of summery tees and tanks over the years, and this one has lasted a bit better than most. I have also tried a number of different linens and I find that I am usually unhappy with the linen pulling out of shape. This linen tee has kept its shape (better than I have!). I should note that, unlike many knitters, I don’t throw linen knits into the dryer; I’ve always dried this flat.

Wishing you all some fresh air and countryside, and maybe some linen and tractors thrown in for good measure!

Colour fail

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:

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© Claudia Eisenkolb

 

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:

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Adding the yellow did not help:

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Here you can see it alongside the swatch, which I knit in the green, which is supposed to form the body of the pullover.

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(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.

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These colours are so spectacular!  I couldn’t believe it: I loved every colour but the three which I ordered!  Major colour fail!

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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:

 

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© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

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!

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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.

Just in time for autumn

I have finished knitting Sel Gris – a light, summery, linen tee – just in time for autumn.  Never fear – this will give me motivation (and ammunition) for planning a sun-filled winter holiday.  (One can only dream.)

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I knit this as a test for Claudia Eisenkolb.  She released the pattern a few days ago after a very successful and fun test knit.  It was my first time participating in a test and it was interesting.  I liked the intellectual challenge of helping the designer be as clear as possible, and I very much enjoyed the interchange with the other testers, all of them lovely and generous knitters.

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The detail at the neck, together with the ribbed sleeves, give this tee just a little extra – it is cute and professional at the same time.  I believe that this will be a great contribution to an office wardrobe and will lend just the right touch of femininity to a suit.

I followed the pattern almost exactly, making only the following slight modifications:

  • I made one extra set of waist decreases and bust increases,
  • I added 1 inch in length (before 1st waist decrease),
  • I picked up more stitches around the sleeve (94); thus I knit the body in a size Medium, but the sleeves were just under the size Large

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I can’t  help but notice that Claudia is designing up a storm right now; she has a bunch of test knits in progress, for some lovely designs.  I am very tempted to sign up for another one, but I think I need to exercise some restraint.

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Besides, I have only 30 more (albeit very long) rows of lace to go to finish my Laelia cardigan……

A better fit

Thank you to all for the thoughtful comments on my last post.  I have not yet replied to them all, but I intend to.  I can see that I struck a chord with many of you, who like me, tend to be conflicted about the trend towards longer patterns.

I have been busy with non-knitting matters lately, but am still managing to participate in a test knit for Claudia Eisenkolb.  This is for a lovely linen tee-shirt with short sleeves and a pretty design feature at the neckline, which is called Sel Gris.  I still have to knit the sleeves, but have finished the body:

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You may recall that when I first cast this on, I encountered some serious (and laughable) gauge issues:

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I had to rip and start over again – I went down both a needle size and a pattern size (to a Medium).  This means that I now have about 4 inches of negative ease, which is not what I had intended. Nonetheless, I think I have managed a better fit this time around.  It errs a bit on the snug side, but I am hoping that a good block will give it more ease and drape.  The yarn, Shibui Linen, is not the easiest to work with, but I will wait until after I’ve blocked and worn it a few times to make any firm judgements.  It does have a very rich hue, and makes a quite lovely, sheer fabric.

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This is my first time doing a test knit.  I am very impressed with the thoughtfulness and professionalism of both test knitters and designer; it is a very collaborative process.  I am also left with a feeling that the other testers are all considerably faster than I am.  The deadline for this is September 15, and I think that I shall make it (just), but most of the other testers whipped theirs out in days.

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Enjoy your Sunday!