Pretty much perfect in every way

I’ve written a lot of posts about the Tinder Cardigan that I have been knitting for Emma. Some of them funny, some of them frustrated, and many of them nit-picky.  But, I have to say, this cardigan is really worth the effort.

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I fretted about the seaming, complained about the yarn, worried that it wouldn’t fit, dragged it around the world and back and then back again, had ridiculous conversations with Emma about whether and how to modify it, ripped out seams, blocked it TWICE, bought three different sets of buttons, knit it in four countries on three continents, and………

it is pretty much perfect in every way.

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I will leave you to read through my earlier posts for in-depth details.  The cardigan was designed by the great Jared Flood for Brooklyn Tweed (the Ravelry link is here).  I used Shelter worsted weight yarn (also from Brooklyn Tweed) in the shade Birdbook. Despite the fact that it is not my favorite yarn to knit with (I don’t like the feel of it in my hands), once washed and blocked it really delivered!  It is so light and lofty and has one of the best tweed palettes anywhere.

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I knit it in a size 34 planning on an inch or two of ease; my gauge swatch lied a bit (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) and it ended up being REALLY narrow.  I blocked it out twice in order to get more width, particularly in the collar and biceps.  It ended up with zero ease – not the look we were going for – but both Emma and I agreed that it looked fantastic this way.

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I made very few modifications.  I knit it two inches longer than called for – both in body length and sleeve length.  I knit the ribbing for 6 inches (instead of the 4.5″ called for).  I put in more buttons (9 instead of 7), and they were also slightly larger than the pattern called for (1″ as opposed to 3/4″).   I found a beautiful ribbon which has a pattern in the very same shade of green, and I painstakingly sewed it over the pick-up seams on both the button and the button hole band.  My hope is that the ribbon will give the cardigan some stability over time and keep it from stretching out of shape.

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I took the unfinished cardigan with me to Vancouver, where we were spending the holiday with our daughters.  While there, I knit the button bands, picked out buttons with Emma (at the funky shop Button Button), sewed on the buttons, and then, as said before (but it demands repeating) painstakingly sewed on the ribbon.

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On New Year’s Day, we drove up the coast, first to Horseshoe Bay and then farther up towards Whistler.  The day was stunning with blue skies and fabulous scenery, but it was icy cold and extremely windy.  In fact, the road into Horseshoe Bay was covered with downed branches and we nearly drove under a tree just as it crashed onto the highway during the drive. As you might expect from our family, we made Emma get out of the car in the freezing cold and gale force winds – repeatedly – in order to photograph the sweater. The things we do for this blog!

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On the photos we took during that drive, you may notice that the cardigan has no buttons or ribbon yet, thus compounding the child cruelty in making Emma pose in the cold and wind!  Once we headed back into Deep Cove, I sat by a roaring fire and started to sew.

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As always, when Doug and I find ourselves in Vancouver, we head down to Deep Cove to take a photo of us on the spot where we were married.  Here we are, at the very spot, a mere 25 years (and a few months) later!

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The continuing saga of Tinder (the cardigan, that is!)

Thank you to everyone who chimed in with advice on this post regarding the Tinder Cardigan I am knitting for Emma.  It really helps to get good advice and I so appreciate the dialogue I have with readers of this blog.  The title of this post may lead some to the false conclusion that the pattern, Tinder by Jared Flood, is in some way problematic. Not so.  I call it a “saga” merely because of my own ridiculous but funny conversations with Emma which slowed down the beginning of the project, my own rush to finish it before heading to Tucson, which paradoxically led to slowing down the middle of the project, and my indecisions over seams and buttons, which slowed down the end of the project.

Here is an update.  I ripped out the seams in the sleeves:

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Are you surprised?  I imagine that most of you would have predicted this.  Why knit a garment and not do it right the first time (or the second, or the third, or the fourth…..)?

I have yet to sew the seams back up, as I am trying to finish up a wee bit of Christmas knitting first, but I did knit the button band, which turned out so pretty.  It really looks great! (Note that you can see a more accurate representation of the lovely green shade – Bird Book in Shelter – in the last photo of this post.)

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And I did go out and buy another set of buttons:

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I am not convinced these buttons are right either (I think the shade is too light) but my local John Lewis seems to be button-challenged lately and I haven’t had time to seek out an alternate source.  However, I do think these are the proper sized buttons for this cardigan (1″ as opposed to 3/4″).  In the photo below, the metal buttons I originally bought are on the right, the new buttons are in the middle, and on the left are the new buttons turned upside down (the backs are a nice mottled brown).

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This leads me to yet another potential problem.  I knit the button band the requisite 1 1/4″ as shown in the pattern. Now that I am now going to go with 1″ buttons,  I am worried that the button band is too narrow. I am thinking of ripping out the bind-off on the button band and putting in an extra two rows of ribbing (maybe 4). Two steps forward, one step back.

In any case, I will be taking the garment as is to Vancouver and will finish it there by hook or by crook!

I will end this post with a photo of the absolutely gorgeous little ribbon I found for sewing over the seams on the back of the button bands.  I think it is a perfect match, though perhaps a bit cutesy. We will just have to leave it up to Emma as to whether she wants a more sophisticated finish.

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My next post will be from Vancouver! It will likely contain new knitting content.  Happy holidays!

 

Not feeling the Shelter love

My current project is a cardigan for my daughter Emma, knit with Brooklyn Tweed’s worsted weight wool, Shelter.  This is one of those love-it or hate-it yarns; it seems to draw equal numbers of complaints and accolades.  At the moment, I can say, I am really not feeling the Shelter love.

First, however, a photo showing my progress, because Emma asked for one.

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I have finished the back, which is knit in a textured pattern, and both sleeves, which are knit in reverse stockinette.  The pattern is Tinder, a design by Jared Flood.  The sleeves have quite a roll to them, which will block out, but which makes it hard to photograph.  (I draped some circular needles over the sleeves to try to cut down on the rolling for the photo.)

I think my problems really began when I started the sleeves.  I do not like the way Shelter feels on my hands while I knit; it feels rough and my fingers start feeling abraded.  It’s hard to describe exactly, but the yarn just doesn’t feel nice.  It feels soapy, and when I have been knitting with it for a while my hands feel dry and scratchy.  I knit the back really fast and was enjoying the fast progress.  The stitch pattern seemed to make the process more lively and I didn’t really notice that much discomfort.  Once I started the stockinette, however, the knitting seemed to drag.  The texture of the finished product isn’t pleasing. (Note to Emma; never fear, this will all be fixed by the blocking.  The finished project will be gorgeous, particularly when worn by you!)

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I know for a fact that the yarn will soften considerably when washed and blocked and will become lofty and airy.  I know that it is lighter than almost any other worsted weight wool, so the finished sweater yard-for-yard, will weigh less.  I love the rich shades, the tweediness, the slubs of bright colours, and the rustic quality of the wool.  Most of all, I love the design aesthetic behind Brooklyn Tweed.  That said, I am really not enjoying knitting with this yarn.

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I have knit once before with Shelter – but never finished the sweater.  This is a total shame because it is an absolutely gorgeous pattern, Exeter by Michelle Wang.

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© Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

 

I finished and blocked the back and both sleeves, and they are fantastic, but then I got annoyed with the fronts and put the unfinished project in a plastic box, where it has sat for the last 4 years.  Here is a photo of the blocked sleeves:

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and another which shows the beautiful cables:

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Why haven’t I finished it? Partly, I suppose, because I have gained weight since I started this project, and partly because the fronts are really fiddly and I can’t find the enthusiasm to finish.  But maybe, subconsciously, the lack of Shelter love has contributed to this project languishing for so long.

Interestingly I have knit two projects from Brooklyn Tweed’s fingering weight wool, Loft, which shares a lot of the properties of Shelter.  These are my Carpino sweater, designed by Carol Feller (blogged here):

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and my Escher cardigan, designed by Alexis Winslow, which I have blogged about extensively (here is a link to the Escher posts):

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For some reason I find the feel of this yarn less annoying in a fingering weight than in a worsted.

I do think that blocking will work wonders with this wool and that the finished cardigan will be cool.  Perhaps that experience will make me weigh up Shelter and find it worth the effort.  There are a lot of Brooklyn Tweed designs calling my name.  Jared has brought some fabulous designers on board and I love so many of the things they are creating.   I must admit, however, that the next time I knit a BT design, I am likely to substitute the wool.

How long is your hand? (The non-Trump edition)

Conversations with Emma about a sweater.

Subtitled: “in which things move from the ordinary to the ridiculous”

Alternatively subtitled: “do I have to send her to a doctor?”

July 27th:

Emma (via email): “On a related note, while searching, I found this tweed pattern which I absolutely love. I feel like its far too complicated for me to start out with, but if you felt like making me something, I’d get a lot of wear out of it. Maybe this would be a moss green opportunity (though I really do like the brick colour). Let me know what you think. [Links to Tinder by Jared Flood; see photo below.] (As usual, I still have some potential modification suggestions…)”

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

© Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood

Emma (via email): “Thinking on this a little more, I am really quite taken with the sweater. If you felt like doing it there are two lovely colorways in shelter – birdbook and artifact. I think either one would look really great!”

Kelly (via email): “Hi Emma, by amazing coincidence I am going to Loop this evening for knit night. I would need to buy 9 skeins of shelter for Tinder (I think I would make the second size – it should have 2″ of ease – the pattern says 8 but you have long arms so I would buy 9 to be sure). I kind of think I like artifact better, but they only have 6 skeins. I will look at the birdbook and see what I think. I am worried that it will be more brash than mossy but will have to see IRL. I think the sweater would also be lovely in wool socks or in artifact, both of which are in stock. I will check out the shelter today.”

Kelly (via email): “I bought the birdbook. I looked at the three greens they have in shelter – tent, bird book and artifact – and decided that bird book is really the only one I liked. The artifact is very gloomy, with blue undertones and the tent is just weird.”

Emma (via text): “Yeah I didn’t like tent very much, and that’s exactly what I had been thinking about the difference between bird book and artifact. Yay! 🙂 I still want to run some ideas about the bottom by you (basically I think there’s too much ribbing at the bottom but I still like the length). At work now, I’ll call you tomorrow if I don’t get off until late xoxo”

Kelly (via text): “i am happy you picked out a sweater for me to knit. i like knitting things for you. have fun at work. talk tomorrow.”

August 2nd:

Kelly (via email): “Did you read my post?”

Emma (via email): “I didn’t realise it had my swatch in it!! I love it!! You haz zee go ahead!!”

Kelly (via email): “sorry. i want clarification here. are you giving me the go-ahead to knit your sweater with this yarn? you don’t feel as if you need me to mail you the sample first? (I would love to start it today as I am projectless, but I really don’t want you to decide you don’t like it later. I can always find something else to knit…..) the photo on the blog is what it looks like outside in natural light. it is slightly darker and more olive-y inside and in the evening. let me know.”

August 5th:

Emma (via email): “did you start the tinder sweater already? i just searched for projects done in artifact and some of them are really quite lovely. just have a look and tell me what you think. it’s hard to tell the difference between the green qualities”

Kelly (via email): “Hey Chica, I already started it. I really did not like the artifact when I saw it in the shop. But I can put a hold on it and send you the sample.”

Kelly (via email): “hi em, i had decided to order a skein of artifact and knit up a swatch and then send you both swatches to decide between. it turns out that loop only has 5 skeins in stock (and I need 9). I can go ahead and do that anyway, and then if you decide on the artifact, i will have to wait until they get a new shipment, but there is probably one due in the early fall. i am willing to do that if you want. I have only just finished the ribbing on the bottom back and have still only used one skein of yarn.”

August 8th:

Kelly and Emma (via phone!!!)

[30 minutes of discussion on how difficult it is to rely on the colours on the computer screen and exactly what shade of green Birdbook is; this is a little like trying to describe the taste of a bottle of wine: “it is really foresty, but with a smidgeon of grass, and some berry thrown in for good measure”]

Kelly: “Hey Em, I figured out something. I will send you a photo of the Tinder swatch using Birdbook, next to the left-over ball of green from your Carnaby skirt. Since you know the shade of the skirt, then you can compare the two colours and the computer screen will cease to be an issue.”

Emma: “That’s a great idea!”

Kelly: (via email): “hey chica, i looked through about 47 bags of yarn to find a left-over ball from carnaby. success! just took a photo of it next to the birdbook swatch and hopefully mailed it to you from my phone. this is mailed straight, without any colour touch-ups. seeing them next to each other makes me more convinced this is what you want. i was afraid that the birdbook would be too bright, but compared to the carnaby it is much richer, darker, with more olive and moss tones, while still being much more green than artifact. if you like it, that is good, because i am going crazy with nothing to knit. (but, still, if you aren’t sure just tell me – its not like i don’t have any yarn on hand.)”

[Note: Below is a photo of Emma’s Carnaby skirt, and the photo of the yarn next to swatch in BT Shelter in Birdbook.]

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Emma (via email): “Perfect! You may proceed!”

Kelly (via email): “wow! that was fast! OK – full steam ahead!”

Later that day:

Kelly and Emma (via phone!):

Emma: “We need to have a discussion about the length for Tinder.”

Kelly: “What about the length?”

Emma: “Well, I want the pattern stitch to go to right at my hip bones, and then the ribbing should stop just at the point where my fingers hit when I am standing with my arms down.”

Kelly: “What do you mean? The sweater is designed so that the length of the arms is identical to the lengths of the body; they are coordinated. The ribbing is the same length for both. It should be long and come past your wrists and down over the base of your thumb. You can always roll them up. But part of what makes the sweater great is the coordination between the sleeves and the body.”

Emma: “Yes, but we both already know my arms are longer than most. If we are making the sleeves longer anyway, and trying to mimic the proportions on the model photo, the ribbing has to be longer!”

Kelly: “Ok, yes that makes sense.”

Emma: “How long is it now?”

Kelly: “It’s at what the pattern asked for – just over 4 inches.”

Emma: “Really? It doesn’t look like that in the photo…. Ok, I don’t have a measuring tape, but when I was looking at home I decided the ribbing should be about the length of my phone. How long is your phone?”

Kelly: “I don’t know. We don’t have the same phone though.”

Emma: “True. Darn. Ok, well my phone is just under the length of my hand. Your hands are a little smaller than mine right? So like, the length from the tip of your middle finger to the base of your hand. That should be the length. Right? How long is that? Do you have a tape measure?”

Kelly: “Give me a minute….That’s about 6 inches! That’s pretty long for the rib. But you’re right, the picture looks much longer than 4 inches.”

Emma: “That’s what I thought!”

Kelly: “Don’t worry; I think I know exactly how long to make this thing.”

Emma: “Just remember, the pattern stitch has to start just below my hip bones, but I’m long in both the legs and the waist. So proportionally the pattern is supposed to hit about a third of the way down my thigh. But four inches on me would only hit quarter thigh! The sweater is supposed to look intentionally long, not like an unfortunately slightly-too-long sweater. So rib from just above mid thigh to just below hip, and pattern stitch from just below hip up. Right? So, hand-length rib.”

Kelly: “Now I’m confused. What you want is for the pattern part to be long as a whole? So that the pattern hits the hip right.”

Emma: “Wait no. Now I’m confused. I think we’re saying different things. I don’t have a tape measure so this is confusing. It just has to hit just right at the hip.”

Kelly: “Ok let’s go back a step. The pattern calls for 18″ from arm hole to base. With 4 inches of ribbing, that makes 14 inches of pattern… That’s shorter than I would knit a normal sweater for you that hits at the hip! I see now; that’s too short. So, really I just need to knit more of the pattern stitch and not more of the rib.”

Emma: “Yes. That’s right. But knit more of the rib anyway. Four inches is just weird. We want intentional ribbing, not oops-we-were-watching-tv-and-knit-too-much-ribbing-and-didn’t-want-to-rip ribbing.”

Kelly: “Got it.”

August 9th:

Kelly (via phone): “I think i will have to re-knit the ribbing. I checked the gauge on the pattern stitch and hit it with a size 8. The pattern says to knit the ribbing with a needle two sizes smaller than gauge needle, so I knit it with a 6, but it seems kind of narrow. I have had this problem with other Brooklyn Tweed patterns. In fact, I once wrote to Brooklyn Tweed pattern support, during the Super Bowl, to ask how I was supposed to get the same gauge knitting 2×2 ribbing with a small needle as I do knitting stockinette with a two-sizes-larger needle. And they wrote back to me, DURING THE SUPER BOWL, to say, basically, and I paraphrase here, “Block the s**t out of it!”

Emma: “Well, ok, that’s sounds fine I guess? I trust your knitting instincts though either way.”

August 10th:

Kelly (via email): “By the way, I decided that the ribbing was ok that I had already knit. I looked at a lot of the Tinders on Ravelry and decided that it only looks good when it is long and lean. So I don’t want to err on the side of too wide. Thus, I have gone ahead and already have 7 inches of the back knit. Woo hoo! It also looks as if I should knit the sleeves a size smaller (but not in terms of length) because many people mention that the sleeves are too wide).”

Emma (via email): “what do you mean about too wide? i thought width was never an issue, just the length of the ribbing? so is it still 4″ of rib?”

Kelly (via email): “No, it’s not too wide. I made the ribbing just over 5″ long. It looks good. But, once blocked, it should be about 20″ wide and it’s not that wide. I was going to switch to a bigger needle and knit it again so it would be a bit wider, but decided that it was going to loosen up a bit when washed. And I would rather err on long and lean than on wide.”

Emma (via email): “yeah also it’s not the kind of sweater i’d wear buttoned up all the time!”

Kelly (via email): “exactly!”

Emma (via email): “WAIT 20″?!? Is that with ease?? because my ass is 38″ in circumference…..”

Emma (via email): “like I agree it will loosen when washed, but is 20″ even enough??”

Kelly (via email): “Ok, maybe I should start over, cause it’s about 14 inches wide without blocking. Look at the schematics on the pattern. I was aiming for the second size ( the 34) so the back is supposed to be 20 across the bottom and 17 and a bit at the chest. Let me know if the schematics seem right to you.”

Emma (via email): “omg i’m an idiot. In my mind everything you knit for me is in one piece. So i thought it was going to be 20 inches in total. but there’s two front pieces. its going to be totally fine I’m just a moron”

Kelly (via email): Ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Emma (via email): “i was busy thinking, “how on earth does mom think 20 inches would be wide enough for the bottom of the sweater??? do i have to send her to a doctor??? who wrote this pattern?????”

…to be continued….

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.