Tensho for the win!

I finished my first knitted garment of the year; the Tensho Pullover (Artist), designed by Beatrice Perron Dahlen:

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I knit this for my daughter, Leah, but as she is back in Vancouver now, I have modelled the pullover myself in these photos.  Tomorrow it goes in the post!

The pattern has a good range of sizes covered, from 32.5″ to 51.5″.  I made it in the size 44.5″.  I am wearing it with about 3″ of ease;  Leah is one size bigger than I am, so it will have a tad less ease on her.

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I knit this EXACTLY as written.  This is very rare.  I didn’t need to swatch because I had used the yarn previously and knew my gauge.  I was able to cast on immediately and I didn’t need to change a thing.  I commented on a previous post about how much I love the way that this pattern is written.  It gives me exactly the information I need and doesn’t pfaff around with the information I don’t need. Of course, we will all differ on what we need/wish in a pattern, but I know that I would pick up another pattern by Beatric Perron Dahlen without a moment’s thought.  I like the way she writes and thinks.

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When Leah came home for the holidays, I sat her down and showed her a bunch of knitting designs which I thought she would like.  Her answer to each was the same: “Hmm, that’s nice.”  Imagine this said with no inflection, while trying to hide a yawn.  Finally, I showed her a photo of Tensho, which I had planned to make for myself, and she said “Wow!”.  And, boom, it went from the knit-for-me queue to the knit-for-Leah queue.  I ordered the yarn that day and cast on as soon as it arrived.

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I am wearing it here with the Cascade cap which I knit for Doug, but frequently steal borrow (blogged here).  Tensho is knit bottom up.  The sleeves and the body just flew off my needles, but then I got bogged down with work, Leah flew back home, and I had a gluten-accident (25 years gluten-free and then I made a BIG mistake) – this means I slowed down quite a bit.  Even so, it took me 6 weeks from start to finish, which is a pretty good pace for me.

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I used Gilliat, a worsted weight wool yarn by De Rerum Natura.  I purchased it from Wild and Wooly in Hackney, London. I used this yarn last year to knit another sweater for Leah, SnowFlower, which I blogged about here.  I love this yarn.  It is incredibly durable, it takes to colourwork really well, and best of all – it is economical.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but it is important to me to watch my pennies.  When I go to a yarn event (not too often these days), it is hard not to come to the conclusion that knitters have no limits on their disposable incomes.  I have been spending less on knitting year on year for the past 5 years, and still manage to knit nice things with nice yarn.

Gilliat comes in 100g balls, with 250 metres per ball.  I bought 5 skeins of the grey (Fusian) and 1 of the white (Sel).  I used 45 grams of the white, and I only needed to break the 5th ball of grey for the last few rows of ribbing around the neck.  If I left off a quarter inch from the length of the sweater I could have made this with just 4 balls of the main colour.  This means that the entire pullover comes in at £55.   (As a comparison, if I  knit it with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, I would have needed 8 skeins of the main and 1 skein of the contrasting colour – and that would be pushing my luck a bit with the CC – which would have come to £112.50.  Note that BT is an American yarn and the Gilliat is a European yarn and I live in the UK; it could be that BT is cheaper in the US and Gilliat more expensive. Nevertheless, my point remains – this yarn is economical.)

Since I know that knitters like this kind of thing, here is a photo of the reverse side:

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I am not a natural in front of the camera.  One of the problems with acting as my own model is trying to relax and not look stiff in the photos.  Emma’s approach is to make me laugh:

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Tomorrow this goes in the post.  Hopefully, Leah will enjoy wearing it.  Apparently it is already warming up in Vancouver.  Am I evil to hope they still have a few cold weeks left in the season so that the pullover gets some use?

Birthday SnowFlower

Given that it is Boxing Day, and I am about to show you a finished project, one might reasonably assume that this project was a Christmas gift.  But you would assume wrong!  Leah’s birthday falls the week before Christmas, and I knit her a SnowFlower for her birthday.

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SnowFlower is a pattern by Heidi Kirrmaier, which is a yoked design using worsted weight wool.  One of the interesting features of the design is that the sweater is cast on just above the armholes at the beginning of the yoke, and knit up.  Afterwards the provisionary stitches are picked up and the body and sleeves are knit down.  This seemed like an interesting technique, and in this case, it worked out great: the yoke was shaped with decreases instead of increases (which I think have a better look to them) but the lengths could still be determined at the end by trying on the sweater.

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I knit it in De Rerum Natura Gilliatt, a worsted weight 100% merino wool from France.  It is a very lofty yarn with 250 metres per 100 gram ball.  The yarn is very reasonably priced, and with this excellent yardage, it comes in at just over half the price, metre for metre, of Brooklyn Tweed.  (Note that I live in the UK, where it is likely that Brooklyn Tweed is more expensive and De Rerum less expensive than in the US.)  I found it to be a very nice yarn to work with and produces a great, soft, lofty fabric.

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I am very happy to put it on my list of great workhouse yarns, as it is nice to sometimes knit things with reasonably priced yarns.  The only complaint I have so far of the yarn is that the colour palette is limited.  I would have loved to have a bit more choice.

There are many great examples of this sweater on Ravelry.  I was particularly inspired by two beautiful examples knit by SmashingPuffin.  I am glad that I followed through because it was a delight to make, and very quick.

I wrote a few blog posts about trying to pick the right colour combination for this sweater.  I really think I nailed it in the end.  I am totally pleased with these colours.  I think that it looks very Norwegian.  The combination of the cheerful snow flowers of the pattern and the lively pop of red, make for a beautiful winter sweater.  It is both warm and cozy, and sunny and bright.

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I knit the sweater exactly according to the pattern.  The only change I made was to add an additional 4 stitches under each sleeve (picking up 18 instead of 14 stitches).  The knitting took no time; I finished in about 5 weeks.  I managed to finish it in time for Leah’s birthday, but then she decided she wanted it an inch longer, so I ripped out all of the ribbing on the body and the sleeves, knit an extra inch of stockinette and then re-knitted the 3″ of ribbing.

Doug said “Why didn’t you just make the ribbing 4″ long?  That way you wouldn’t have had to rip and re-knit all of that rib.”  The truth is it never would have occurred to me to do that.  One of the things I like about a hand-knitted sweater is that you knit it so that it is exactly right.  If you wanted a sweater that wasn’t exactly right, you could buy it.  Ripping and re-knitting, so that your garment turns out exactly how you want it to, is one of the joys of knitting.  Call me crazy, but that’s how I feel!

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We photographed this sweater today, on a fairly grey, wet Boxing Day in the beautiful village of Turville, which is frequently used as a film site.  Can you see the windmill up in the top of this photo?  It is the Cobstone Windmill located in the adjoining village of Ibsden, and which was used in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  (It was the home of inventor Caractacus Potts.)

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This photo shoot was a family affair (just like old times!).  Emma is home and so she took the photos for this post.  Here is a shot I took of her doing the photo shoot:

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We took some silly shots:

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And here is a picture of me, pushed to the sidelines by Doug, Emma, and Leah (in a bid to keep me from micro-managing the process).

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Happy holidays! And happy knitting to all!