Vodka Lemonade

I have finished the Vodka Lemonade cardigan!  This is a gift for Leah, and tomorrow it will be put in the post.  I took a few photos with me wearing it, but I hope to put up a post with modelled photos from Leah at some point.

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The pattern is by Thea Colman, and despite the fact that dozens of her patterns have been in my favorites for years, this is the first one I’ve knit.  It definitely won’t be the last.   The pattern has some lovely details and all of the finishing is incorporated into the knitting – once you cast off the bottom hem, you are done!  No picking up stitches and adding edging; the edges are all beautifully finished as you go along.

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Leah spends a lot of her time in dresses, and this cardigan struck me as the perfect length and weight to wear over a dress.  I’m a little worried about the yellow – it is not a colour I normally knit with, but it seemed to mix and match with many of the dresses she wears.  Plus, in 2020 I think we all need a bit of sunshine however we can get it.

When I looked at the many Vodka Lemonade projects on Ravelry, one of the things I noticed was that lots of them looked too long to me.  I wondered why knitters were adding length to what should be a slightly cropped cardi.  I think that, if you are aiming for a cropped look like the one in the pattern photo, you should take care with the knitting and make sure that you start the lace pattern early enough.  My finished cardigan measured 12″ from the armhole to the bottom hem, which is one inch less than called for in the pattern.  I had intended to do three repeats of the lace, instead of two, and took Thea’s advice to leave an inch for each repeat.  However, if you are hitting gauge the lace takes 1.5 inches per repeat, so you need to start the lace earlier. (Thus, I knitted two lace repeats instead of the three I intended.)

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I knit this with John Arbon yarn, also a first for me.  The yarn, Knit by Numbers, is a 100% merino wool DK weight yarn which comes in a wide range of colours. I completely love the yarn, a lovely, soft, DK-weight and am very impressed with how it plumped up and softened with a wash.  Leah is sensitive to wool, she can wear it but finds most wool yarn itchy.  I am very impressed with how non-itchy this yarn is, and have high hopes that it won’t pill as much as some other soft wools.

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We are having a heat wave here so I am glad to have this off the needles.  I am currently knitting swatches, which are small and therefore don’t mean having a pile of hot wool on your lap while you knit.  And Doug is keeping me supplied with freshly squeezed lemonade, while I sit in the shade and knit.  It’s not a bad way to spend a Sunday.

 

Knitters, check your dye lots!

I had planned to write a Pattern Radar post this week, but I realise that those posts rely heavily on using Ravelry links. Given the situation with Ravelry at the moment, I’ve decided to postpone the post for awhile. (For those who are wondering what this is about, there are serious accessibility issues for some users on Ravelry following an upgrade; I find it very sad and hope they resolve the problem soon.)

Pattern Radar posts take a very long time to write (you can find them by clicking on the Pattern Radar tag on the right margin). Ditching my plans to write one this weekend means lots of extra time for knitting! I am working exclusively on the Vodka Lemonade cardigan now, as it is a gift for Leah and I want to be able to pop it in the post this week. I am getting close:

This design is by Thea Colman, and is the first of her designs I’ve knit. I thought it would be super fast since it is in DK weight yarn, but for some reason it seems to be taking forever. I only need a few more days to get it done, but my mind is wandering to other projects, and I’m finding it hard to be monogamous. The yarn is from John Arbon Textiles, also a first, and it seems lovely and soft. However, I have a major beef. I ordered 5 skeins of the yarn for this project, and one of them was not from the same dye lot as the others.

I am furious at myself for not checking the ball bands, and pretty mad at the yarn store for sending me odd dye lots. Its hard for me to get a photo today to show this because of the light, but to me the odd skein is very apparent – I started it about 5 inches down from the collar and it finishes just at the sleeve separation.

I am trying to overcome my perfectionist tendencies and to remember that a hand-knitted sweater is supposed to have character. We all believe that, right? (There is another, very small, mistake in this sweater which stands out like a strobe light to me, but I figure if I don’t mention it, maybe it’s not there.)

I thought you might like this photo which Emma sent me of a tree near her apartment:

The back garden beckons! Have a good weekend, and don’t forget to check your dye lots!

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!