Killybegs

I finished my Killybegs sweater over a week ago, but I haven’t been able to get it posted until now.  The four of us have been staying with various friends and family members while on holiday.  This means crowded houses filled with people having fun, cooking and eating too much, children and pets running around, and general mayhem.   This does not lend itself to sweater blocking.

A few days ago, we arrived at our friends Mark and Teresa’s house, which is very spacious and lacking in the kids and pets department, and I had a 48 hour window before the place was filled with guests for Doug’s birthday party.  I walked in the door, and the first words out of my mouth (after the obligatory “Hi”) were “Can I block my sweater, like right this minute?”  Luckily, Teresa understands obsessions and the sweater was duly blocked, and spent 48 hours drying.

The Killybegs sweater is designed by Carol Feller and can be found in her book, Contemporary Irish Knits.  It is knit is Donegal Aran Tweed in a spectacular green with flecks in purple and orange.  I completely adore this colour.  Carol says in the book that the texture of the Donegal Tweed changes considerably upon washing and she is right.  It blooms and softens, and becomes completely cozy and warm and fabulous.  Killybegs is supposed to be finished with hook and eye closures along the front edge, but as I forgot to bring those along, I will sew them on later.  I love the way it looks open in any case, so I am not in a hurry to add them.

I made this sweater without any modifications (except for going up a size needle).  I knit it in a size 36, and blocked it to 37″, thus giving me 2″ of negative ease.  It is extremely rare that I knit a sweater exactly to pattern.  I can rarely resist the impulse to tinker, and frankly, most sweater patterns could use a bit of tweaking here and there.  This one just worked out perfect in every way.

One of the especially clever things about this sweater is the way in which Carol has incorporated decreases into the coin cable on the yoke.  The whole time that I was knitting the yoke, I was muttering “Genius!  This is sheer genius!”  It really is a remarkable feat, both intellectual and architectural, and was a pure delight to knit.

I can tell that this will be one of those sweaters that gets worn all the time.  It feels good on, it looks good on, it makes my inner knitter happy.

A Feller double bill

Some of you may think that my last several posts have been about copyright issues, badly behaving designers, gorgeous designs, and things my mother and grandmother knit, in order to cover up for the fact that I haven’t been doing any knitting.  Well, dear reader, you would be wrong.  I have been plodding away on two cardigans, my Ravi cardigan and the Killybegs cardigan, both coincidentally designed by Carol Feller.  I haven’t been able to get any photos taken until today however.

In Ravi, as you may recall, the yoke, including the lace panel, is knit from side to side and then stitches are picked up all around the yoke (about 200 of them) and the body is knit down in garter stitch.  I worked very hard to pick up the stitches as carefully and beautifully as possible and I must say I am quite pleased with the results.  See the pick-up line in the photo below and how even every stitch is?  It can be very hard to pick up evenly around an edge, particularly a long one.  Many times I have to rip and start over.  This one came out perfectly, without any ripping at all, but mostly because I took my time and did it very meticulously.  It took over three hours just to pick up the edge.

In addition to the yoke design, Ravi has an interesting construction at the base.  The body is knit down to the waist, and then there is a bunch of short row shaping on the back of the cardigan, so that the front actually ends quite high up, at the natural waist really, and the back curves down over the hips.  Here is a shot of Carol, from the pattern.

It’s not the best shot for showing this feature, but you can see that the front of the sweater comes to above her belt line, while the back is a good 4 inches lower.  Now, I have actually knit down to where I should start the short row shaping, which effectively means that the sweater will not be any longer than it is now in the front.  I am worried that this is actually too short and I should add a few more inches.  On the other hand, I really like this feature of Ravi, and like the way the swoop in the back looks.  If it was placed too low on the hips, I don’t think it would have the same nice effect.  So, I have a bit of a dilemma; keep it really short in the front, or do some lengthening, which may cover up some pudginess at the waist line but possibly contort the nice line of the back?  If I do make it longer, I will have to add in some hip increases.  In any case, I need to decide now, before I knit any further.  Any suggestions?

Ravi, as you may recall, is being released in segments as part of a giant KAL organized by Carol Feller.  There are currently 891 members of the Ravi KAL group on Ravelry.  That is an awful lot of people following along and knitting this project together.  One would think that that would generate a lot of extra enthusiasm for this project (in me, I mean).  I find, however, that I am something of an anti-populist in these things; I tend to like patterns better when they aren’t insanely popular.  It’s sort of like books – if something has reached the bestseller lists, I feel almost honor-bound to ignore it.  The fact is I have a lot of enthusism for the pattern; I think it is a lovely design and very well executed, and the project notes that accompany each segment are great.  When I started out, I found the KAL forum very useful for deciding on which yarn to use, and which short row method to use, and just looking at other knitter’s progress was fun.  But I notice that, as of this morning, there are 1884 posts on the forum which I have not read.

In addition to Ravi, I have picked up Killybegs again.  I had previously knit the body of the sweater up to where the yoke begins.  In the past two weeks, I have knit both sleeves.

The sleeves are knit on DPNs (double pointed needles).  Knitting on big, fat, wooden DPNs (US size 9), with thick wool, while cabling, is not easy on the hands.  I had to limit how much I knit each day as I found my wrists and thumbs would really start to ache after an hour or so.

But now the sleeves are done and I am ready to join up the sleeves with the body and commence the yoke.  That will be a bit of a challenge, as there will be a huge number of stitches on the needle, and lots of cabling.  On the other hand, just finishing the sleeves gives me a huge psychological boost.  And this incredibly vibrant green, with all of the cheery flecks of orange and purple (Studio Donegal Aran Tweed in “Green”), makes me happy.  I can’t help but smile when I’m knitting with it.

Up to my armpits in sweaters

There hasn’t been as much time to knit as I could wish this past week, but then again there never is.  Nevertheless, I have been slowly plodding along on my Laresca.  I have reached the point where I split for the armholes, after which I will knit the front and back separately.

The lace panel is looking kind of pretty and the linen fabric is cool and has nice drape.  It is still difficult to know whether it will fit properly when finished, but it is not as bad as I originally feared.  In fact, looking at these photos, I am pleasantly surprised; it looks much better than I thought it would.  (Emma has just called me to say “Gee, this looks much better than I thought it would!”)

I am sure that it will look better with a pretty skirt and some sandals, and maybe an iced coffee in my hand, and some sunshine (though I fear that here in England the sun may never come out this summer).

I have also been slowly working away on my Killybegs cardigan, and, lo and behold, I have also knit up to the armholes on this one.  (Get it –  I am up to my armpits in sweaters!).  Here, I am trying it on for the camera, attempting to smile while awkwardly holding it up in place.

Unlike my rather wishy washy feelings towards the Laresca, I love the Killybegs.  I think it is fabulous.  I adore the brilliant green, the sharp flecks of orange and blue, the unusual placement of the honeycomb cables, the shaping, the cozy, lofty, lovely wool.  In short, I like everything about it.

My only negative comment on this one, is that I wished I had put only four pattern repeats of the single honeycomb pattern, before branching out for the waist. (This is through no fault of the pattern, but likely a combination of a slightly off row gauge and my natural shape.)  As it is, I have knit the 16″ required to the armholes, but the waist of the cardigan sits above my natural waist.  To correct this, I either have to rip out about 10″ and start the waist shaping earlier, or I have to make the cardigan a couple of inches longer.  Can you guess which I will pick?  Hopefully, long cardigans will be stylish this year.

I have also been considering putting a zipper in this.  The pattern has an I-cord edging on the front and hook-and-eye closures, but I rather think that a zip would be pretty nifty.  I am not the best seamstress, and haven’t put in a zipper before, but I am leaning towards trying it out.  What do you think?

It has been a strange week around Knitigating Circumstances headquarters.  Emma is still in Berlin, where she is sick.  Doug has been in Malaysia, where he was sick, and is now in Brussels, where he is still sick.  This leaves only Leah and me (thankfully, not sick) and the house seems very quiet.  Thank you to Leah who very kindly took over Emma’s job as blog photographer this week (though we did send them out to Berlin for a final tweak!).

One step forward, two steps back

This week I cast on for Killybegs, a wintery cardigan knit in thick, warm tweedy Donegal Aran Tweed.  The sweater, designed by Carol Feller, has great shaping details.  It uses a honeycomb cable pattern in an interesting configuration to do the shaping.  The waist is created, not by paired sets of decreases and increases, but by using the honeycomb cable to draw the fabric in.  Here is a photo:

The cardigan is knit in one piece bottom-up, and uses an I-cord cast on.  Casting on over 160 stitches using the cumbersome (but very pretty) I-cord cast-on takes a long time.  In the photo below, you can see the edge it creates, which is very finished and won’t roll.

The honeycomb cables arise in columns before branching out.  I finished three of these cable repeats over the week, producing about 4 inches of fabric; considering that the fronts and back are knit in one piece, this is a fair bit of knitting.  Pretty, huh?

Wait.  Look again.  Look closer.  Can you see something wrong?  No?  Maybe this will help.

On the left is my Killybegs.  On the right  is the swatch that I knit of the honeycomb cable pattern.  I have knit three pattern repeats; can you tell that the first two repeats are too small?  The third is the correct size, as you can see by comparing to the swatch.  For some inexplicable reason, I seem to have been incapable of reading the pattern, incapable of counting, and incapable of seeing what was right before my eyes.  For a whole week.  What did I do?  Rip!  This morning I frogged the whole thing and started over.  How frustrating!

And on another note, Emma and I have been working hard on our upcoming series highlighting vintage knits made by my mother and grandmother.  We had hoped to unveil the first segment today, but have had to deal with two obstacles.  First, there is a lot of work involved and we fell short of time.  Second, Emma has absconded to Berlin, where she will remain for a summer filled with adventure and fun.  As this blog is a very collaborative effort, Emma and I will have to learn to deal with communicating remotely.   But never fear, compared to following a pattern (ahem), it will be a piece of cake.