Tag: knitting

FO Friday: Pamplemousse Sweater

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, her body sideways and face turned to smile at the camera.

Pattern: Pamplemousse by Thea Colman

Yarn: De Rerum Natura Gilliatt in Forest

Needles: US10 (6.0mm)

Size: 48

Ravelry Link: here

Started: December 26, 2019

Completed: February 23, 2020

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, her body facing the camera and arm on hip, face turned to the side.

Is Pamplemousse my 5th cabled sweater with an oversized neck? Yes, it is. I know what I like and when this pattern from Thea Colman popped up it fell right into the Venn diagram of my favorite elements in a knitted garment. I was amazed to knock it out in under 2 months, as lately I have been finishing one sweater per year, but I just couldn’t put this project down! I am now treating it like my favorite sweatshirt and putting it on anytime I’m a little bit chilly.

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, her back to the camera and faced turned around to look at you.

I spent a lot of time trying to find a substitute for the recommended yarn, Taiga by Bleu Pousserie, which is a rustic yarn without a lot of elasticity. I am really thrilled at how it came out with the yarn I ended up with, Natura by De Rerum Natura. It is a squishy worsted weight that is 100% merino, but still has a more rustic hand. The cables look lovely in this yarn and while my slipped stitch pattern gauge was slightly different than the suggested, I did the math and realized it didn’t make a difference in my sweater circumference so I didn’t adjust for it at all.

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, facing the camera with her arms up and out in a tee position.

I love how you can see the arm shaping in this shot! I did end up making a few modifications to the sweater. I picked up 2 extra stitches for the sleeve and did the same number of decreases so mine would be slightly roomier. I tend to have problems with sleeves being too tight in the biceps so this accommodated that. I also made the sleeves 2″ shorter before starting the ribbing, because I have the arms of a 5’2″ lady. Finally, I worked my cowl slightly differently than the patten – as suggested I went up a needle size after knitting 1″, but after that I kept bumping up to a larger needle size every 4″ per advice I’ve heard in the past from Amy Herzog. It makes the fabric looser as the cowl grows and allows it to get a bit bigger and lay nicely.

white woman in green cabled sweater and jeans stands in front of wooden fence, holding the bottom hem of the sweater and looking down at it.

I am absolutely thrilled to have knit this sweater that fits in so well with many others in my closet. This one is different with the full cowl as well as the cropped length, and really, there is nothing wrong with having similar pieces if clothing you wear and love. Do you have any recurring features in the clothing you make? Tell me about it in the comments below!

FO Friday: Breton Cowl

a white woman in an olive green and chartreuse striped cowl and a sky blue top stands facing the camera, seen from the waist up

Pattern: Breton Cowl by Antonia Shankland

Yarn: Shibui Knits Drift in Field and Shibui Knits Silk Cloud in Pollen

Needle: US9 (5.5mm)

Ravelry Link: here

Started: October 18, 2019

Completed: November 22, 2019

I am a stripes gal, they’re the pattern you see most in my wardrobe. When the lovely ladies at Mason-Dixon Knitting gave me a kit for the Breton Cowl and a copy of the Field Guide containing the pattern I was thrilled to knit some more stripes for my closet. They didn’t ask me to review the kit, this is just me proudly blogging my FOs 😌

white woman in an olive green and chartreuse striped cowl and a sky blue top stands with her head turned to the side

Not only does this pattern contain stripes, it contains my other knitting love – garter stitch. I really love the contrast of the squishy garter background and the stripes in a different fiber and texture. It gives a bit of visual interest to the cowl and makes it the perfect thing to throw on with a simple top.

Do you have go tos that are hard for you to resist in a pattern? I’d love to hear about them below!

2020 Goals

I love the process of setting goals and assessing how I progressed towards accomplishing them. I have more uncertainty in my near future than average, thanks to my chronic colorectal cancer, but I find I can’t quit planning for the best case scenario. So, here is what I would love to accomplish this year.

Sewing

Top of my list are the 3 outstanding projects I have for other people. I started a quilt for my husband’s 40th birthday, which was back in 2015. I also promised my sister a dress for her birthday last January. And finally, I am making a baby quilt for a friend who is due next week. I need to get those finished before I make anything for myself. Once I do knock those out, I have a long queue of projects planned. I’m most excited about a pair of Persephone Pants in denim, and a Wilder Gown in ochre gauze. I also want to make a few new to me items – a jumpsuit and a bra.

Knitting

I am feeling really excited about knitting lately and have been tearing through my latest project, a Pamplemousse sweater. I have Arete in my queue as well as socks for my husband and some little crocheted bowls for the house. I set my goal for the Ravelry Project Challenge to 6 projects, which is what I aimed for and hit exactly last year. I would love to knit mostly from stash, though I am not going to make any vows not to buy new yarn, just to check first to see if I can use what I have.

Reading/Learning

I still have a large pile of unread crafting books – 30 according to Goodreads. I am going to get through as many of those as I can this year. Next on my list is to research color, finding my colors, and building my wardrobe using that info.

What are your goals for 2020? Learning something new? Improving a skill? Just enjoying the ride? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

2019 In Review

One of the highlights of my 2019 was how I grew as a crafter. In June I went to a jeans-making retreat at Fancy Tiger Crafts and while there was no flash of knowing I was changed, I can see since coming home the difference it has made in my sewing. I made underwear and overalls, both of which I would have assumed were beyond me. But I made jeans! So I can figure out underwear (which, it turns out, are actually really simple!). This was also the year I began to feel more comfortable making pattern adjustments – grading between sizes and shortening pattern pieces.

Above are the 16 projects I completed and shared here this year (there are 3 more done but not blogged, but that’s a different story). I have sewing, knitting, and crochet projects. I’m sure this is the first year in my crafting life that my sewing projects outnumber my knitting, and I suspect it will continue that way in the future.

As I sometimes touch on, I am living with chronic colorectal cancer. This year I received 21 doses of chemotherapy, will continue to get treatment every other week for the foreseeable future. Every stitch I hooked and sewed and knitted this year was with cancer in my lungs and bones. These pictures are celebrations on days that I felt good. I think crafters in particular know the joy that comes with finishing the creation of a tangible thing and while I will never lose that, I want to value the days where I make nothing but carbon dioxide as I exhale.

I’ll be back soon with some thoughts and goals for 2020. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along here. If you want to keep up with my health, I have a cancer blog I update (more) regularly (than this one).

FO Friday: A Spell For Waning

a white woman in an orange cardigan wear a pink and red cowl

Pattern: A Spell For Waning by Jill Draper

Yarn: Jill Draper Makes Stuff Kingston in Hasbrouck Ave and Abeel St

Needles: US11 (8.0mm)

Ravelry Link: here

Started: September 5, 2019

Completed: October 13, 2019

close up of pink and red cowl with woman's hands

One of the yarn companies I return to over and over again is Jill Draper Makes Stuff. I love that she uses domestic wool to create interesting yarns. I think I’m also drawn to them as a native upstate New Yorker – so many of the yarn and color names are familiar to me from my hometown of Ithaca, NY. Last year at Rhinebeck I was thrilled to take home some of Jill’s new yarn Kingston, a woolly, heathery wonder. I cast it on this fall and was able to make this pattern in time for this year’s Rhinebeck. Is there a name for knitting up last year’s festival yarn for this year’s festival? There should be, because it always feels so satisfying to accomplish!

close up of pink and red cowl with woman's hand

I chose this pattern because I love garter stitch. And when it is knit with three strands held together it is especially squishy and textural and delicious. In this pattern you start holding three strands of one color and gradually replace one strand at a time of a different one to create a subtle color gradient. It makes a lovely effect, and combined with the subtle shaping to create a fold to warm your neck, adds up to an easy pattern with lovely details.

The only negative thing I have to say about this project is that when I finished it I realized I would never wear it here because it’s far too warm. Luckily, Rhinebeck is a magical place and it found a home with my housemate Marissa. She is a fellow garter stitch lover and has never made herself a cowl. It will get lots of love around her neck in the Northeast, which makes me very happy because I believe wool wants to be worn. Do you like to give away knits to loving homes?

FO Friday: Twitch Sweater

a woman in a yellow and white striped sweater stands in a field with her back to the camera, one arm blocking the sun from her eyes

Pattern: Twitch by Kim McBrien Evans

Yarn: Shibui Knits Staccato in Brass and Ivory

Needles: US1 (2.25mm)

Size: 1

Ravelry Link: here

Started: September 17, 2018

Completed: July 27, 2019

a white woman in a yellow striped sweater stands in a field facing the camera with her hands in her back pockets

Twitch was one of those patterns that sent me straight to my LYS so I could cast on immediately. I loved the panels of different lengths and widths covered with differently sized stripes. My original goal was to finish it in a month and bring it to Rhinebeck 2018, but I knit so much I injured myself and had to take months off of all knitting. Value your fingers over a deadline, y’all! Once I healed up I was able to get back to this project at a much more reasonable pace and debut it at Rhinebeck 2019.

close up of the yellow striped sweater, showing half the front torso and an arm akimbo

You can see my only modification in the picture above. After spending a weekend sewing that I realized my sleeves were too tight and it was throwing off the fit of the entire sweater. I did not have it in me to take off and reknit the sleeves, so instead I decided to work with the sweater design and make an inset stripe. I knit a 1.5″ wide white stripe, which was easy to knock off and insert at the underarm seam without touching the sleeve cap. It was exactly what I needed to be able to wear the sweater comfortably.

top down photo of the yellow striped sweater showing off the seaming junctions

I really love all the stripey junctions across the sweater and how beautifully they all line up. The designer did an incredible job of thinking that through and it makes an exquisite FO. The sort of thing that makes even fellow crafters say, “Did you make that?” I did and I love it.

Have you ever been so enthusiastic about finishing a project that you hurt yourself? Did you learn your lesson or do you still get caught up in deadlines?

FO Friday: Swing-y Tank

a white woman in a knitted blue tank faces the camera

Pattern: Tarmac Tank by Anna Maltz from Pom Pom Quarterly Issue Summer 2018

Yarn: YOTH Best Friend in Oyster (trim color) and Mint.

Needles: US2 (2.75mm)

Size: 3 (37 3/4″ bust)

Ravelry Link: here

Started: September 10, 2018

Completed: September 10, 2019

white woman in blue knitted tank leaning against a wall with her back to the camera

In my continued quest to expand my warm weather me-made wardrobe, I made this swing-y tank out of a cotton/wool blend. It’s so pleasant to toss on in the worst of the heat and still feels cute. If you’re going to sweat on your clothes, natural fibers make it a more comfortable experience.

a white woman in a blue knitted tank with her side to the camera

My one complaint about the pattern is that the armholes are much too big. I had read this in the project notes on Ravelry, but entirely forgot to compensate for it when I was knitting. Since taking these photos I have been wearing it with a cute bralette like my Josephine Swing Top and I am finding I like that look better. The oversized armholes definitely are not going to keep me from wearing this top a ton!

white woman in a blue knitted tank with her back to her camera and her face turned towards it, too

I really like how the stripes worked out. I’m not sure how well it reads in the pictures, but this tank is knit from a pale blue grey and a mint-y blue in single row stripes. I like how it reads as solid-colored from a distance and the colorwork is only visible once you get nearer.

Are you a fan of colorwork with colorways of similar values? Let me know!

Why Do We Fight Ease?

I am lucky enough to know many talented knitwear designers, as well as many talented knitters. And for the most part the only thing that separates those groups is that one publishes patterns and the other doesn’t. But there is one topic that I have found these two groups tend to treat differently – garment ease.

What is ease? Ease is the difference in size between the finished object and the person wearing it, generally measured at the bust. So positive ease means the garment is larger than the person’s bust, no ease means they’re the same size, and negative ease means the garment is smaller.

Generally, I see designers embracing ease. They publish patterns with many inches of positive ease and encourage their customers to knit with the designed fit. And I see so many knitters nervous about following the suggested ease. They feel like they’ll drown in an oversized garment and knit smaller sizes they feel comfortable with.

I think many knitters are uncomfortable with ease because they think a larger garment will make them look fat. They find it scary to make a garment as big as an oversized one. First of all, this belief is false and oversized garments do not automatically make a person look larger. And second of all, so what if they do? Why is it so important to signal thinness?

The other thing I think knitters who reject ease end up rejecting is comfort. Garments with more ease are literally easier to move in. The word “oversized” immediately conjures images of sweats, worn while lounging. Don’t we all deserve, and need, more comfort in our lives? It is such an act of self-care to spend time crafting something that will bring you comfort each time you wear it.

There are many wonderful styles of clothing in the world, and I want more of us to consider positive ease as part of our sartorial playbook. It can look put together and fashionable just as much as close-fitting clothing – that comes down to proportions and fit in specific areas like the shoulders. I want us to worry less about looking fat in our clothes and focus more on how they make us feel. I want us to clothe ourselves so we can move freely and feel enveloped in comfort. I want us to be at ease.

DFW Fiber Fest Recap

I am very lucky that my job affords me the opportunity to attend a lot of fiber events, but one experience I’ve never had is going to a big event as a yarn civilian. So, when I saw the teacher line-up for this year’s Dallas-Fort Worth Fiber Festival I decided to take the plunge and sign up. I had a full weekend of classes (7 of them!) and managed to sneak in some marketplace time as well. Here’s some of what I learned during this lovely weekend.

These are my swatches from Knitting for Speed and Efficiency with Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (bottom) and My Aching Wrists with Carson Demers (top). In the former class I learned a ton about the history of knitting before we talked about how we can improve our personal knitting rate. It was interesting to take at this particular time in my life as a sick person, because the disability community talks a lot about not measuring our worth in productivity and my brain was really trying to figure out how to hold onto an interest in knitting quickly with not feeling like it reflected on me. I learned that I knit 28 stitches per minute, which is mid to top of the average range for North American knitters: 10-40 stitches per minute. We talked about a very efficient way to knit if we’re willing to learn a new technique, as well as ways to increase speed in our current knitting style. You can’t really practice both, you have to pick one, and I’m still undecided which I’ll do when I’m done with one of my current projects and am ready to take on a speed-practice one.

I put these swatches together for the picture because they both show the same tendency – when I start practicing a new knitting technique my gauge gets smaller. I am a very loose knitter, often needing to go down 3 needle sizes to get gauge, and I finally learned why in Carson’s class. When I make a stitch I do so on the shaft of the needle, so my stitches are the diameter of two of the needle size, not one like it would be if I formed the stitch on the tip. I don’t have a problem with being a loose knitter so I’m not sure if I’ll attempt to change this practice of mine, but it is nice to understand why I have to knit on such tiny needles.

I also took my first two weaving classes this weekend – Knitting for Weavers with Deborah Jarchow and Saori Weaving with Kathy Utts. Above are my samples from the former class. It was such a great set up – there were half a dozen different types of beginner looms in the class. We each warped the one in front of us and wove a sample on it, and then moved around the room and tried out other looms we were interested in. It is amazing how different the models can feel in your hands, and how tiny style differences make using it harder or easier for your body. During the entire time we were warping I was thinking how glad I was that I took a class and didn’t just buy a loom, because this activity was not for me. And then the moment we started weaving, as I saw cloth being created in front of me, I had such a visceral reaction – I was part of an ancient textile art, sisters with the Goddess Arachne. Now that the fumes have worn off I’m still not sure I’ll take it up as a hobby, I don’t know if I have the mental energy to properly learn a new kind of making, but I also don’t know if the siren call will overwhelm my senses at some point.

My favorite class experience was definitely Saori weaving. I love everything about the philosophy – it is about creating imperfect art and knowing ourselves in the process. Sitting at that loom felt so good, as did playing with techniques and making up my own. The Saori way is to machine wash your weavings, which puts fear in my stomach but I am going to do anyway to really go through the process. After that is done, I cannot wait to hang this piece that I love in my office. It’s definitely not in my budget to buy a Saori loom anytime soon, but I may visit the local studio and take some more classes.

I can’t believe it, but I didn’t take any pictures while I was there! So just imagine a picture of a great marketplace full of interesting vendors. I also really liked the hotel/conference center set up – they’re across the street from each other and right next to a bunch of restaurants. My favorite was Nosh and Bottle, a deli/market. I had one of the best sandwiches of my life there and will definitely eat there again next time I’m in Dallas. Maybe for next year’s show? If so, hopefully I can convince some of my knitting group to come with me!

FO Friday: Snowshoe Hat Cowl

FO Friday: Snowshoe Hat Cowl

Pattern: Snowshoe by Amy Miller for the cowl, the hat I improvised based on the cowl pattern

Yarn: Foxhill Farm Cormo Silk DK in Natural

Needles: US8 (5.0mm)

Size: 58” long and 9.25” wide

Ravelry Link: the cowl and the hat

Started: March 8, 2018

Completed: September 8, 2018

I love matchies. I love matching mom and daughter sweaters. I love matching kid and doll clothes. So it is no surprise that I love a matching hat and cowl set. What is surprising is how few of them I had in my wardrobe, so I set out to fix that with these accessories.

I fell in love with the Snowshoe cowl pattern as soon as I saw it – a big reversible cable and garter stitch are what my knitting dreams are made of. I went shopping specifically for this pattern at Rhinebeck 2015 and came home quite happily with 2 skeins of Foxhill Farms Cormo Silk. It is a luscious yarn, soft and drapey and such a gorgeous natural shade. I looked a little bit for matching hat patterns, but quickly decided I’d rather make up my own based on the Snowshoe pattern so they’d match perfectly. I’m so pleased I did, I adore how they go together.

Are you the kind of maker who loves a neutral matching set, or do you love the opportunity to show off lots of different colors and textures at once?