Sweet and Tart

Welcome to another Wearability Wednesday post, in which I re-visit a hand-knitted garment and discuss its wearability.  The garment in question today is the turtleneck which I finished in early February 2015 and blogged here; below is a photo taken just after finishing.

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The pattern, Lightweight Pullover, was designed by Hannah Fettig.  I took much inspiration from Hannah’s design and the many projects on Ravelry.  (This is a very popular design.)   Once I got going, however, I did my own thing as far as the numbers go – increasing and decreasing where needed, and not paying much attention to the pattern specs.   I took minimal notes, which you can find on my Ravelry project page, here.  I did change the waistband and the cuffs to seed stitch, which I think adds much to the look of the garment.

Of all of the hand-knitted garments in my wardrobe, this is probably the one that has been worn the most in the last year.  Partly, this is due to the fact that I knit it after I put on weight.  (I gained about 10 kilos during 2013-14; many of the knits I made before that are temporarily in storage.)  But mostly, its because it is a very serviceable pullover that fits well into my wardrobe and my lifestyle.

I frequently wear it with jeans.  It is easy to throw in a suitcase and thus it has been worn all over the globe in the last two years.  Below, I am wearing it while examining wool fleeces in the basement of a shop in Llandudno (blogged about here).

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I like that it is lightweight; it is knit in fingering weight wool and this makes it easy to wear and to layer.  I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the fabulous colour Tart. Note that the pattern calls for sportweight wool, but after seeing dozens of Lightwieght Pullovers knit in Tosh Merino Light, I decided that it gave really nice drape.

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I also often wear this garment to the office.  It can be quite easily dressed up or down.  Usually, I will pair it with grey or black, as with these grey trousers:

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Or this black pencil skirt:

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These are all great features and means it gets worn a lot.  But, of course, there are some negatives as well.  This is the first garment I knit in Tosh Merino Light, and I find that it pills. A lot:

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While Tart is a gorgeous colour, I have found it to be a little bit less versatile than I originally thought.  I would normally pair a deep wine with black, grey, navy or brown.  In actual fact, I find that it works much better with blacks and greys than with browns and navys.  Here is a shot with navy; I’m not sure it comes through well in the photo, but the grey tones in the yarn cause it to clash just a bit with the navy (I know this is nit-picky, but it does make it less adaptable in my wardrobe).

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I also have concerns about the fit through the shoulders and arms.  I think it is about a good a fit as a raglan can be, but I am starting to think that a set-in shoulder has a much better fit.  And, it is perhaps a bit too tight (alsa, the weight gain!).  But what bothers me most is the slight felting under the arms:

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Surely, I can’t be the only person who sweats?  The only solution I see is a looser fit under the arms; perhaps more length in the armscythe?  (And a bit more width in the bicep?)

The verdict: this is a fabulous and versatile piece in my wardrobe that sees a lot of wear.  If I were to make it again, I think I would try a different yarn (one that would pill less), and I would add a bit of give to the upper arm.  I think I would also do something with the cowl – make it a bit longer or give it more volume, perhaps?

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Now, it is time to watch the Gilmore Girls (I had never even heard of the show before this summer and am now mid-way through season five – no spoilers please) and do some Christmas gift knitting.  Enjoy your Wednesday!

Turtleneck in Tart

Last week I finished knitting and blocked my turtleneck based on Hannah Fettig’s Lightweight Pullover pattern.  I then procrastinated for a week before weaving in the few ends.  Finally, this morning, I was able to wear it!

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I love how this turned out.  The fit is perfect.  This might be because I tried it on every few inches and knit it to fit.

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I mentioned in a previous post that I was considering making the seed stitch border at the hips a bit longer.  I ended up doing this, taking out the cast-off border and adding half an inch of seed stitch for a total of 2.5 inches.  The pattern calls for ribbing at the cuffs and hem, but I really like the look of the seed stitch; I think it gives the sweater a bit of a dressier line.

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I knit this with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Tart.  I wet blocked it, giving it a good soak.  I poured a cup of white vinegar in the water to help set the dye.  It definitely ran – if you are going to use Tart in colourwork I strongly recommend you wash all the dye out first.  I put it through a gentle spin cycle in the washer (inside a bag for delicate wash), and then laid it out to dry.  I didn’t need to pin it as the size was already perfect.  A warning, however, Tosh Merino Light does grow lengthwise after a soak – the sweater is two inches longer than pre-blocking.  Luckily, I was expecting this and the length came out perfectly.

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I am particularly pleased with the fit in the shoulder and arm.  I mentioned in a previous post that I didn’t follow the numbers in the pattern, but just winged all of the math.  This method works well when knitting top-down in the round since you can try it on as you go.

Most knitters will alternate skeins every row when using hand dyed yarn to avoid pooling.  It turns out that I am terrible at doing this when knitting in the round; the join always looks messy.  Besides that, it is awkward and I hate doing it.  For this sweater, I only alternated for an inch or so every time I joined a new colour.  I was lucky and didn’t get much pooling.

I love the fact that this sweater is so versatile.  I wore it above with dressy navy slacks and heels.  Here it is with a skirt.  (It would look better with a navy,brown or black skirt, but you get the idea.)

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Once I finished posing for the photos, however, how do you think I styled it?  Well, how else does one wear a jumper to go walking in the muddy English countryside?

Answer:

  1. You put your hair in a ponytail.
  2. You wear your wellies.  Wellies are essential; trust me.
  3. You borrow your husband’s way-too-big-on-you coat.  Why?  Why have a husband if you can’t wear his clothes?

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Now I’m off to find a muddy field to trek through….

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(By the way, I asked Doug to look at this post and he said “You should have named it Tart in Turtleneck instead of Turtleneck in Tart”.  He deserves to have his clothes stolen!)

Shades of autumn

The autumn has definitely arrived and the English countryside is turning shades of reds and golds.  My knitting, without conscious  intention, is following suit.

04-IMG_9887I knit these beautiful mitts this week using Quince & Co Chickadee yarn in the colour Honey.  The pattern is called Antiquity and is designed by Alicia Plummer.

I didn’t like the colour when I first bought this yarn (ordered online) but now I think it is luscious – particularly juxtaposed with autumn’s bounty.

08-IMG_9896There is a small orchard near our house, which I think is mostly a hobby for its apple-enthusiast owner.  He grows dozens of varieties of apples, most of which I’ve never heard of; over a period of four months a different variety reaches its peak every week or two.  Doug and I go there every week through the autumn and try them all.  These are called Catshead apples and they are a very old variety, dating from the 1600s.  I’m not sure what they taste like but they certainly look delicious with my mitts.

Doug has just returned today from an exhausting business trip to Mumbai and then on to Brussels.  It was not autumn-like in Mumbai but Doug seems to have been on the same wavelength as me since he returned with autumn colours.   Since I seem to be developing a theme here – here are my mitts photographed against the antique carpet Doug bought in Mumbai:

07-IMG_9893I have also been slowly making progress knitting my Lightweight Pullover, designed by Hannah Fettig, and knit in the glorious Tart shade of Madelinetosh Light.  It fits in perfectly with our autumn theme today.  Here is a progress shot:

09-IMG_9903This also shows the great fit.  I am modifying the pattern to get an in-between size and I am quite happy with the results.  Tart is such a lovely rich colour.  The simplicity of this pattern, basically just miles of stockinette stitch, allows the colour to shine.

12-IMG_9908When Doug left for Mumbai, he asked me what I wanted him to bring me.  I asked for saffron and a tablecloth.  And Doug, even though he only had a few hours free on the whole trip, managed to bring me saffron and a tablecloth.  I can’t resist showing you the tablecloth here, especially as it fits so perfectly with this post:

13-IMG_9909Amazing, isn’t it?  It’s pure silk and practically luminescent.  I can’t wait to see this adorning my Christmas table.

I cast on another project this week, but since it’s grey  and doesn’t fit the theme, you will have to wait to see it.  Whatever your weather, enjoy the colours!

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Too many beautiful patterns to choose from

Sometime last winter I went into London shopping with the aim of buying some yarn to knit a sweater for me.  I went armed with a list of sweaters I was interested in and their various yarn requirements.  I also went with Emma, which means that I left the shop without any yarn for me, but with a pile of absolutely luscious Madelinetosh DK for Emma:

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Ever since then, we have been trying to pick a suitable sweater to knit with this yarn.  Not a week goes by when I don’t email Emma with a link to a sweater pattern and the query “How about this one?”  Sometimes, I think we are close to making a decision.  But somehow, we never seem to find the one.  Since the end of the year is upon us, I have been looking back over the year’s knitting and have discovered that I have not knit a single sweater for Emma all year (egads!).  Plus, Emma is flying home for Christmas and will only be here for two weeks before she must fly back for the start of term.  This means we have to decide now!  I want to be swatched and ready to go when she gets here.

So, what are our criteria?

  1. The sweater has to be right for this weight yarn (DK) and I must have enough of it (I have 1030 metres).
  2. It has to meet Emma’s strict style criteria.
  3. Because the yarn is slightly variegated, a simple, not-too-busy sweater will show off the yarn best.
  4. It has to be something I want to knit (after all, I knit because it is fun; if it’s not fun, I don’t want to knit it).

Every week, our options change, but I thought I would show you some of the ones I am considering at the moment.  (Emma, are you reading this?)

First, there is Sotherton.  This was the first sweater that Emma picked out for the yarn, many months ago, but we have been wavering about it ever since.

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Sotherton is designed by Kathleen Dames, and is in the Summer 2012 edition of Jane Austin Knits by Interweave Press.  I don’t really know why I have been wavering about it.  Most of the time I think it is just beautiful.   Part of the problem has to do with the reverse stockinette, which of course forms the background to the cables.  I am not convinced that reverse stockinette is the best canvas for this yarn.  Part of it has to do with the shaping – this is the kind of sweater that must be fitted exactly right; if you screw up anywhere in the shaping, it will show and it won’t look good.  Emma and Leah very kindly point out that I am good at this kind of sweater fitting, but it also means that I would have to knit it up very fast as fitting is much easier when you can fit it directly to the recipient.

Another one I really like is Low Tide Ripples, designed by Suvi Simola, for Twist Collective.

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This one takes a very basic shape and adds some pretty features.  I think the cuffs are cute and distinctive, the zigzags show up nicely on the stockinette background, and I like the shoulder shapings.  This pullover is designed to be a little roomier, with a comfortable shape that makes it great with jeans.   Nonetheless, it is a very grownup and elegant version of a simple crew neck pullover.

One of the things that Emma has been mentioning frequently these days, is that she is cold.  It rains all the time in Vancouver, and the winters are dark and grey and gloomy and wet.  Emma wants some warm, cozy clothes.  That makes me think maybe the best use of this yarn is as a cardigan, rather than a pullover.  For cardigans, I think my top candidate at the moment is Dark and Stormy, designed by Thea Colman of Baby Cocktails.  Here is a photo of the back:

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and here is a photo of the front:

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I like everything about this design.  If Emma doesn’t want it, I will definitely make it for myself sometime down the line.  It looks like the type of cardigan which you could live in.  I particularly like the shawl collar.

Another one on my list is the Wrapped pullover, designed by atelier alfa:

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I think this is ultra cool.  It is different, it is fun, it has attitude.  This is another one I could see making for myself.  I am not sure how it would look with a variegated wool, however; the pattern is very strong, and should stay that way.  You want the cables to make a statement; a variegated wool will make it stand out less.

Just this week, as I was putting together this post, Ruth Garcia-Alcantud of Rock and Purl, published a new sweater design, Echoes of Winter:

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I met Ruth at Knit Nation in 2010, when we both took a design course taught by Shirley Paden.  At the time, Ruth was hoping to become a sweater designer.  She now has many designs published in some great places.  For some reason, Echoes of Winter reminded me of Emma.  It could be because it’s very fitted, and Emma can really rock this look.  I also think it would look great in this yarn.  I do think that if I were to make this one, however, I would shorten it by an inch or two.

The Dragonflies Jumper, designed by Joji Locatelli, is another good one.

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I would definitely make it as a turtleneck, however.  This jumper has a very pretty cable pattern, that does indeed look like dragonflies, and a nice simple shape.  There are many lovely versions of it popping up on Ravelry.  I think it would be warm and cozy.  I would need to swatch the dragonfly pattern first and make sure it popped enough in this yarn, but I think it’s a nice simple sweater with some flair.

Hannah Fettig has designed so many great, classic sweaters; a number of them were in competition for a place on this list.  I am leaning towards the Lapis Yoke sweater, from the Fall 2010 edition of Knitscene:

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I think this is a really classic shape done really well.  If you are on Ravelry and you want to see what inspired me to put this on my list, go check out FeyaPL‘s version of this.  It is made with Madelinetosh DK and is absolutely gorgeous.

Another option is the Isis Tailcoat:

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This is designed by Keri-Helene Rane for Purl Alpaca Designs.  This is designed for and knit with alpaca, which gives it a nice rustic look, but done in the Madtosh DK, I think it would be very chic and sophisticated.   It doesn’t look as toasty warm as some of the other designs; but it has a nice shape to it.

Last, but not least, is the Jewel Lake pullover:

5816113452_930c29def8_zI really love this one and it has been in my queue for a long time, targeted for Emma.  (It is so clearly an Emma sweater!)  The designer is Kristen Hanley Cardozo from the Knitting kninja.   This one is designed for worsted weight, not DK weight, so would take a bit of mathematical manipulating; then again, math is what keeps a knitter’s brain young!  This sweater is so beautiful (and I love the photo).  Imagine that you could change the ribbon according to your mood: black velvet, red lace, etc.  The only drawback (besides the math) would again be the warmth factor; with it’s bare neck and 3/4 sleeves it’s not exactly toasty.  Remember, Emma is cold over there in Vancouver.

I could continue to add other patterns for hours, but I think I’ll stop now.  What a terrible problem to have, don’t you think?  Absolutely gorgeous yarn sitting around, and too many beautiful pattern to choose from.  Now all I need is for Emma to make up her mind!