Fuzzy and Blue

Two years ago, at Halloween, we spent a week in Edinburgh.  This Scottish city is truly fantastic. While we were there, I was knitting my Leyfi pullover, so in my mind Leyfi is associated both with Edinburgh and with Halloween.  Since today is both Halloween and a Wednesday, I thought that I would write a Wearability Wednesday post showcasing Leyfi.

Leyfi is a big, warm pullover with a lacy leaf panel running down both sleeves and across the yoke.  The photos in this post were all taken this month, after two years of wear.  Leyfi is designed by Rosemary (Romi) Hill, and was published in the Fall 2010 edition of Interweave Knits. I got the magazine in the mail, and then went out right away to buy yarn and cast on for this project.  That doesn’t happen too often; I usually let pattern designs float in my subconscious for awhile before I decide to give them a go.

As an aside, I had been following Romi Hill’s designs since I first heard of her, partly because I like her work, and partly because her business is called Designs by Romi.  This caught my eye because my sister, whose name is Romi (not a nickname, and not at all a common name) has owned a business for the past twenty years called Gardens by Romi.  My sister Romi, by the way, is a kick ass garden designer; you can see some of her work here.

I wear this sweater a lot.  It is a very big and very warm sweater, without too much shape.  In my case, it is a bit too big; you can definitely see this in the below photo:

However, I kind of like it this way.  I have seen many Leyfis that are more fitted and they look wonderful.  My Leyfi is the sweater I pull out when I want to go for a walk on a brisk fall day, or curl up with a mug of hot chocolate on a cold winter day.  It is like wearing your man’s sweater in terms of its cozy, cushy, relaxing, warmth appeal, but still manages to look pretty and feminine.  My kids used to frequently play the recording of Grover, from The Muppets, singing Fuzzy and Blue.  That’s what my Leyfi is – fuzzy and blue and comforting.

Despite this, it can still look pretty sharp.  Here are some photos of me wearing it a few weeks ago while walking around the grounds of Waddesdon Manor.  This Renaissance-style château was designed by the French architect Destailleur in 1874 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild.  It is now owned by the National Trust, and is a lovely property set in the Buckinghamshire countryside in England.

The manor house is open for tours, as is the wine cellar, and we have done that in the past, but on a beautiful, crisp, fall day like this one, who wants to go inside?  There is a sculpture exhibit currently on display on the grounds at Waddesdon, all of contemporary sculpture, which looks both fabulous and bizarre against the Renaissance background of the buildings and gardens.

You can see that Leyfi looks stylish and cool, even when combined with clunky hiking boots and jeans.  And see what I mean about the extraposition of new sculpture and old architecture?  The piece which we enjoyed the most was a set of mirrored shapes scattered around the leaf-strewn grass (Geometric Mirrors by Jeppe Hein). Your reflection, and the reflection of the trees and gardens, are all thrown back at different angles, and change every time you move.  Very cool.  Here, Doug tried to capture it on camera:

The pattern for Leyfi calls for two strands of yarn held together.  One is an aran weight merino wool, and the other a laceweight silk cashmere blend.  I was unable to find any similar yarn combinations, and I was very eager to cast on, so I settled for a very thick Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed Chunky.  I like the colour a lot, and like the tweediness of it, with bits of blues and creams and greys.  However, if I were to make it again I would not use this yarn.   I think that the combination of yarn called for in the pattern probably produces a lighter fabric with more drape.  Plus, the Donegal Chunky gave me some gauge issues.  This should have been a super quick sweater to knit, but I ended up ripping and re-knitting quite a few times.  Here are some of my notes from my Ravelry project page:

“I tried the sweater on a few inches after joining in the round at the underarms, and discovered that, despite having gotten gauge on my swatch, the sweater was definitely running big. I was getting 13 st/ 4″ instead of the 14 called for. I ripped back about 6 inches until just before the first set of increases. Then I recalculated, and put in fewer increases, aiming at a finished size somewhere between the 36 and the 40 (I ended up with 132 stitches around at the bust).

I tried it on again for length when I was nearly finished and decided that I would prefer it with some waist shaping so I ripped back again. I added three sets of decreases, and then three sets of increases for the hips. I knit the sleeves on dpns and I must say I really dislike working lace with chunky yarn on dpns.

After finishing, and casting off, I tried the sweater on again, and decided that I really disliked the rolled edges. Though I didn’t mind this feature in the original pattern, the yarn that Romi Hill used had a lot more drape than the Donegal Chunky, and the rolled edges [with my yarn] looked terribly chunky and clumsy. I could also tell that it was going to get worse each time I put it on. So, I ripped back the bottom and the cuffs, and added 5 rows of seed stitch, and then cast off in seed stitch. This gave some stability to the edges, and I think it really ended up looking nice.”

I only ever wear this with jeans.  I suppose it would look good with a shortish skirt and tights and boots, or maybe a pair of wide-wale cords, but I am pretty sure that I’ve only paired it with jeans.  In this incarnation, it is a casual, outdoorsy sweater.  I think that Leyfi, if knit up in different yarn and slightly more fitted, could be a dressier piece.  Also, because of the width of the sleeves, I find it uncomfortable to fit this under a coat.  Therefore, I usually wear it outdoors on top of a turtleneck, and have Leyfi function as my coat.  In short, this is a very cute pullover, and very easy to make.  Because it is knit with chunky wool, and has a top-down all in one construction with no seams, it is very fast.  I’ve been wearing it for two years, and it still looks like new, with no pilling or wear.