It’s all in the finishing: Hanne Falkenberg’s Sofi Combi jacket

I am so happy to have some photos of my newest hand-knit, a very chic, boxy jacket with a pattern that pops.

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The pattern is designed by Hanne Falkenberg, and is called the Sofi Combi.  “Combi” refers to the fact that it is knitted with two different yarns.  The dark blue is a tweedy wool and the soft green is a linen blend.  The two are combined in a slip stitch pattern that has an art deco feel to it.  The details of the pattern are fantastic. Notice the lovely details at the shoulder, and the way the zig zags undulate at the back of the garment:

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And check out the lovely faux seam at the sides:

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You may also notice the (seemingly) miles of seed stitch knitted with tiny needles for the sleeves.  Those sleeves were an undertaking, especially since I knitted 2.5 of them (the first sleeve was a bit baggy, so I ripped it and then did some maths and some re-designing of the sleeve cap and tweaked the decreases to get a slimmer, smoother fit.)

I have blogged about this jacket extensively over the (dare I say it?) almost TWO YEARS that I have been working on it.  (Of course, in that time, I have knitted many other projects.)  Now that I am actually wearing this, however, I am kicking myself for not having finished it straight away.  You can see some of my previous posts on this garment under the tag Hanne Falkenberg here.

The finishing details on this garment are amazing and I have learned so much from making it.  The edgings on the fronts are picked up and knit in reverse stockinette stitch, which allows the edge to roll to the back. The left photo below shows the pick up edge from the inside of the front.  Along the pick up edge, you can see the edging is rolling over towards the back.  The edging is then pulled over the picked up edge and sewn down, to make a beautiful, neat edge, shown on the right.

The neck is finished the same way.  I am so thrilled with the finishing details on this jacket.  I feel that they give a very professional look to the garment.

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I have knitted two of Hanne Falkenberg’s designs previously (see my post A Tale of Two Falkenbergs for details).  You can only buy her patterns in a kit, with the yarn that she provides, but I have found them to be well worth the purchase.  The yarns are beautiful and Hanne’s colour sense is lovely; she often puts together colours that are surprising, but they always work.  They are intellectually challenging knits (in a good way) and I have learned something from each of them.

The weather has cooperated; we are having an unprecedented warm, sunny Easter weekend in England.  After posing for the above photos, I ended up knitting in the garden, and Doug thought it deserved another photo:

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I am not always good with pairing patterns with patterns and so I am surprised by how much I like this jacket with this top:

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When I read a blog post about a sweater, I always want to see the reverse side.  So, for those knitters like me, here you can see that it is a truly lovely jacket inside and out:

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Now, I am headed back to my garden to take advantage of a sunny weekend (and hoepfully to finish another project).  Have a lovely weekend!

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Sleeve cap tinkering

Having just completed a project, last week I found myself pulling out the Sofi jacket which has been sitting unfinished in my knitting pile for most of a year.   This is where I had gotten to before putting it away:

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As you can see, I had finished up the fronts and back of the jacket, and was missing only the sleeves plus all of the edgings and finishing.  Part of the reason that I had stopped working on it was because the sleeves are worked in seed stitch on tiny little needles, and part was because I was having trouble understanding the instructions for the top-down sleeves.

Sofi is a very square garment; the underarms are formed by binding off a bunch of stitches, and then knitting straight up without further decreases, leaving a wide, flat edge under the arm.  The instructions are to pick up stitches along the vertical edges of the sleeves and then to start at the top of the sleeve and knit down using short rows knitted in seed stitch.  I was worried about this construction: didn’t I need to pick up stitches along the bottom of the armhole as well?

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However, the instructions were to pick up 55 stitches along each side, and I had exactly 110 rows of garter, meaning 55 garter ridges on each side.  I took this to be a sign that I was following instructions, and I picked up a stitch in each garter ridge.

I was also a bit thrown by Hanne’s instructions for doing the short rows themselves, in which each row begins by throwing the yarn over the right needle, and ends by working 2 stitches together – one being the yarn over from the beginning of the preceding row and the other the next stitch on the pick up row.  I decided to stop over-thinking it and just follow the instructions and see where they led.  It turns out that this method makes a very nice edge along the shoulder, and looks quite neat:

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As I continued knitting, I began to worry more and more about how the cap was going to be joined under the arm.  I even wrote to the designer, Hanne Falkenberg, sending her photos, to ask if I was doing this right.  It turns out that I was.  Hopefully, you can see from these photos how the sleeve is meant to be sewn to the bound off edge at the underside of the arm.  It is rather clever and also allows you to knit the sleeve back and forth instead of in the round (hooray!).

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Unfortunately, I had to knit the entire cap and start knitting the sleeve itself before I could try it on and see about the fit.  The verdict is that the sleeve is too roomy at the cap.

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Here is another photo where it does not look too bad at the back, but you can see that there is a bulge at the front of the cap:

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I think that part of the problem is that I have too many stitches on the needle. A more serious problem, I think, is that I picked up the stitches at the same rate along the entire armscythe – one stich for every garter ridge.  You can see that the puckering happens along the middle third of the cap, both back and front.  In this region, I should have picked up fewer stitches.

So, what to do now?  I am trying to be sensible and think about it carefully, and examine all of the photos with a critical eye before ripping.  I know that nothing drives me crazier than sleeves which are too tight, so I don’t want to adjust a too loose sleeve and end up with a too tight one.  I think that I will leave this cap as it is, and pick up stitches on the other arm, adjusting the rate of pick-up along the middle third of each side, so that I end up with 10 or so fewer stitches altogether.  Then, I will knit that sleeve down about the same length, so that I will have two sleeves at different widths to compare.  THEN, I will rip out the one that fits the worst!

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I wish you all a good weekend with minimal ripping involved!

Back in rotation

Since I finished my pink tank (more on that next time) and I put my grey tank away pending decisions (to rip or not to rip), I found myself with a knitting gap that needed filling.  I fought the urge to cast on something entirely new and instead pulled out the Hanne Falkenberg jacket (Sofi) which has been patiently waiting for me to remember its existence.  I hadn’t worked on this in many months, but I managed in the space of a few days to finish the body of the jacket.

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I’ve done all of the patterned bits now.  What remains are the sleeves and all of the edgings around the fronts and the neck.  Since all of those parts will be knitted with the dark blue wool, I am now finished with the light blue linen yarn.  And very happily, once the shoulder seams were knitted together, I could try it on and see that it fits!

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I love the features in this jacket; Ms. Falkenberg has clearly thought out all the little details.  The way the pattern meets at the back and also at the sides of the jacket, the way the short rows work along the shoulder seams, everything is elegant and charming.

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I tried this on to gauge the fit, without trying to hide the loose ends or otherwise tidy it up for the photos.  But you can see that it will be a beauty once finished.

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Since the sleeves are knit on a US2 needle – in seed stitch!!!! – don’t expect me to be finishing it any time soon.  However, we all know that slow and steady wins the race.

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We’re off to Crete this weekend.  While there we will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary.  I’m pretty sure that lots of knitting will happen as well.

Travel knitting recap

I was away from home for a full month, including a working trip to South Africa and a holiday to British Columbia, Canada.  You may recall that I took two knitting projects with me: Cullum, a linen tee shirt with a bit of lace designed by Isabell Kraemer, and Sofi, a light jacket in wool and linen designed by Hanne Falkenberg.  Photos of both designs are shown below:

First off, I must admit to not having accomplished much knitting on either trip.  While in South Africa I was kept quite busy on the job, and in Vancouver and surrounds, I was enjoying hanging out with my daughters and other relatives, and wasn’t feeling the knitting mojo so much.  This latter may be partly because I was concentrating more on the linen tee, which admittedly is not a particularly scintillating knit.  (It is in linen and much of it is in stockinette in-the-round.)  Once I got the jacket on my needles, I found it more enjoyable.  My rationale was that the linen tee was a summer top, so I should put some effort into finishing it while it was still summer.

The tee is knit from the top down; the front and back are joined in the round at the armholes.  Thus, I didn’t get to try it on until after it was joined and I had knit a few inches in the round.  Now that I am home, I have tried it on and…..IT IS TOO BIG!  And, not very nice looking at the back.  Here is the evidence.  This is the front view, clearly a bit big but still reasonable.  (Please note the effects of serious jet lag in these photos; what a difference a little sleep makes!  Look at the sweater and ignore the wearer!)

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Here is a side view.  You can see that the arm scythe is very low, but this is the type of tee which I will probably wear over a tank, so still salvageable.

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Below is a view of the back.

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I am really not happy with the way the sleeves look at the back.  There just seems to be lots of extra fabric everywhere.  UGH! Let’s look at this dispassionately, however.  It is knit in 100% linen.  I know that it will shrink a bit when I have washed it.  I also did a gauge swatch and made sure to wash and dry it before measuring.  So it is quite possible that, once properly washed and dried and blocked, this will look as I imagined it.  I also know that I purposely didn’t want it to be fitted – it is a summery linen tee, made to be worn in hot weather, so it should be loose and airy. Right now, however, I am feeling that it is miles too loose and airy.

What do you think?  Is it as big as I am thinking?  Is it likely to shrink?  Why do the backs of the sleeves look so bad?  Why is the back neck so loose? Is this likely to block out? More importantly: should I rip back and do some re-fashioning?  Should I forge ahead but put in some decreases? (I actually put in one set of decreases on the plane, just an inch above where I’ve knit to in the photo, and was thinking of one more set for just 8 stitches decreased.  Is this too little too late?)  Should I just leave it be?  Or should I, perhaps,  throw it in the (now empty) WIP basket and instead knit the Falkenberg jacket?

To help you address the last question, here is a progress shot of the jacket:

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Pretty, huh?  The body is knit in one piece with no shaping, thus it is a boxy little jacket. When I made my swatch, I had this idea that the body would just be a larger version of the swatch – basically the pattern knit as a big rectangle – but I forgot how brilliant Hanne is at design.  Her pieces are so clever and so well-tailored.  To illustrate, here is the side seam:

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And here is the centre back of the jacket:

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I love these details.

It is Friday evening here in England and they are predicting a gorgeous weekend with sunny skies and hot temperatures.  My friend Erun is visiting and we have good food, good wine, plenty of sun screen and knitting projects on the go.  Which one do you think I will be knitting this weekend?

Travel knitting

Yesterday, I was in Munich.  Today I am in England.  Tomorrow I will be in Johannesburg. After that, I will head to Vancouver.  I am in heavy travel mode.  What does that mean? Travel knitting of course; the thing that knitters most obsess about when packing a bag.

I have decided to have two projects with me, so that I can alternate between them. First, I am going to knit Cullum, a linen t-shirt with a touch of lace, designed by Isabell Kraemer:

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© Pam Allen

I am using the very same yarn used in the photo, a gorgeous deep grey shade of Quince & Co Sparrow called Eclipse.  Sparrow is a 100% organic linen yarn.  It is luminous:

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My second project will be the Hanne Falkenberg jacket I discussed in my last post.  I clearly was experiencing technical difficulties on that morning, as I couldn’t read Hanne’s pattern.  When she sent me instructions for a swatch, I realised that I had completely mis-read the instructions for the jacket.  I even went back and checked, so convinced I was right, but no, the instructions were perfect and it was me that was lacking. Here is the swatch:

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I love this!  The photo is lovely, but it is far better to hold it in your hand! It is so soft, yet wool-y, and light like a feather.  (Unlike the Sparrow, which is a bit rough on the hands; I know from experience that it will block into a very soft, drapey fabric, however.)

This is a run-by post as I am heading for the airport. Good knitting everyone!

 

Notes from a Hanne Falkenberg fangirl

When I was in Denmark recently, I tried on a beautiful Hanne Falkenberg jacket at a Copenhagen yarn shop.  (I blogged about the yarn shop visit here.)  I have knitted two of Hanne’s pattern before, one for me and one for my husband Doug.  (You can see them both, plus lots of personal knitting history, in this post.)  I was quite taken with this jacket, which was knit with a combination of two yarns: a lovely Shetland wool and a blend of cotton and linen.  I have been trying to find garments which will look both smart as a work garment, but which would also let me look like “me” and not like a banker.  I promptly ordered the kit:

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On the weekend, I decided to swatch the garment.  I am leaving for a trip to South Africa soon and thought this would make good travel knitting.  Unfortunately, I was stymied by the swatch.  The pattern instructions are written out for the whole garment, and I was having trouble sizing down the pattern repeat properly for a swatch-size.  In particular, I couldn’t tell how to line up the reverse rows over a smaller section, and I wanted to see the distribution of the knit and purl stitches over the main colour.  I couldn’t see this from the photo included in the pattern, in part due to the main colour being quite dark. This inability may be due to stupidity on my part, or the lack of sufficient coffee at that point in the morning, but in any case after a number of fruitless attempts, I wrote a letter to Hanne explaining my problem.

This morning I received a lovely letter by email from Hanne, which I reproduce here:

Dear Kelly

Thank you for your message and the interest in my design. I will try and help you. I have never received any questions about  this sample before.

I have scanned one of my small colour samples, which shows some of the pattern, and I have added the instruction for these  rows. The pattern is so easy to work once you get started and you will spot any “faults”/mistakes right away. Only make sure you mark the “side seams” and center back  when you place the pattern on the actual  garment.

I do not have a garment here at home, the many examples are out in the shops for display.

You are welcome to write to me again on this address

Best Regards

Hanne Falkenberg

Included with the letter was a close-up photo of the stitch pattern knitted up, and clear and detailed instructions for knitting a swatch!  This was exactly what I needed!  Not only that, but Hanne had reversed the colour of the yarns for the knitted swatch photo so that I could clearly see the patterning of the background colour.

I love the knitting community!  Thank you to Hanne, who not only makes beautiful designs but also makes me happy to be a knitter.

Knitting treats from Copenhagen

I was teaching on the weekend and so was unable to make my way up to Edinburgh for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I admit to having felt rather sorry for myself. For the entire time I was doing the MBA I was unable to make any yarn shows. I planned to remedy that once I finished, but then I took a job (teaching on the very same MBA programme) which meant a lot of working weekends. The universe (or at least the people who schedule yarn shows and MBA classes) seems to be conspiring against me, as they are mostly scheduled concurrently. Oh well. I am not so desolate as I have a Danish consolation prize or two (perhaps three).

A few weeks ago I was in Copenhagen with my friend, Erun (and with Sarah and Sara). One of my top priorities was to make it to Somerfuglen, a knitting shop that I had long wanted to visit.

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I know you won’t believe me but I didn’t buy any yarn there. Why? Because I loved everything and couldn’t choose and I had a plane to catch. That is not to say I didn’t make any purchases. I bought two lovely knitting books. First, I bought Issue One of the new knitting periodical, Laine.

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This is a lovely book. It is filled with knitting patterns, beautiful photography, articles, designer profiles, recipes, and has high production values. Even the ads are lovely! This issue had profiles of Joji Locatelli and Helga Isager among others. It seems to me that this will be a collectable and I am happy to have the first issue.

I also bought this amazing book:

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By Annette Danielsen, it is filled with stunning photos of Greenland and absolutely gorgeous sweaters. I want to knit them all. I particularly want to knit this one, Fjelde, which coincidentally I have in my favorites file on Ravelry:

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© Annette Danielsen

Here is the extra special goodness from my trip to Sommerfuglen:  I tried this jacket on! And it was scrumptious. It fit beautifully and was a dream to wear. As a result, I have purchased the book and now somehow have to teach myself to read a knitting pattern written in Danish! Never fear, dear readers, I WILL accomplish this eventually (perhaps with some help from my friend, Erun, and her mother, Liv)!

Hanging in the window at Sommerfuglen was a very smart jacket by Hanne Falkenberg. I was able to try it on as well. I am a big fan of Hanne’s designs and yarn as you can tell from this post from some years ago. This jacket also fit perfectly and I could not help but notice that it was precisely the kind of thing I need for my working wardrobe. I thought about buying it right then and there, but was prevented because (1) I couldn’t check any luggage on my flight home and (2) the shop didn’t have kits in the colour combos I liked.

Once I got home, I continued to think about this jacket, however, and ended up ordering a kit in the same colourway as the shop sample (colourway #1). Here it is:

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The design is called Sofi, and it is knit in two different yarns – the sleeves and main colour are knit in her No2 shetland 100% wool and the contrast colour is her No4 Sofistica 60% Cotton & 40% Linen. Here you can see the two different yarns from the kit:

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So, even though I didn’t make it to Edinburgh, I can console myself with these lovely Danish knitting treats. I have heard that the festival suffered this year from its excessive popularity – by all accounts it was very crowded and hot. I would have braved both to see Kate Davies’ stand (and all of the other goodness) but perhaps by the time I do make it up there, the venue will be bigger. In the meantime, I have plenty of knitting to keep me happy.