knitting it up in a big way

Category Archives: sweaters & the like

Last September I asked you guys to cast your vote on what yarn I should use to knit the featherweight cardigan, and you chose lace weight strandavarious.

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FO: featherweight champion <– ravelry project page

Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: Laceweight Strandavarious, somewhere in the neighborhood of 600-700 yards
Needles: US size 6 (4.0mm)

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This was a fairly uneventful knit. The pattern is clear and easy to follow, so it was just miles of stockinette as I made my way through. I made it a shorter as I don’t have as many cardigans that work well with the skirts I tend to wear at my natural waist, so I thought I’d make this one fit that bill. I don’t mind how it looks with a longer tee, either. This did leave quite a bit of the skein leftover though.

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As suspected, I preferred the reverse stockinette side. I made sure to sew in my ends in carefully so they wouldn’t be visible from either side, and I picked up stitches for the collar 2 stitches in to create a tidy ‘visible seam’ look. This is what I’m most proud of in this knit. I also did a sewn tubular bind off. It’s a bit of work, but it really makes the finished product feel polished, you know?

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I would absolutely use this pattern again. It makes a very wearable cardigan. Next time, I’d probably opt for a slightly longer cardigan.


Let’s talk sweaters, guys. I’ve got an itch. I want to start a sweater, but I can’t decide which one! Let’s look at options, hey?

I’ve got this beautiful angora/wool/cashmere blend that I bought at Loop in London. DK weight, 1488 yds. At the moment I’m fairly in love with the idea of Sous sous by Norah Gaughin for this yarn.

I would probably omit the hi-lo hem, because with it, I think this will get kind of dated. Without it, this is timeless. A little wide, lending drape to a textured sweater with a lovely center focal piece.

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Queensland Collection Kathmandu. Technically DK, but knits up like worsted, 1323 yds. I’m thinking Tinder for this one:


Speaking of Brooklyn Tweed, I’ve had these two colors of Loft for almost 3 years now with the same idea all this time. I want to recreate my favorite j crew breton, in sweater form. Here it is from before it was toooo dead to wear in public:

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Boat neck, hip length, three quarter sleeves, gentle drapey a-line. Total Classic. Yup, capital ‘C’. I’d probably knit this flat, in pieces, and seam it together, using the original for measurements. The thing about this one is that I’ve never dealt with any patterns with sleeves like this… I’d have to be ready for a lot of trial and error to get this right, I think.

And finally, this vintage stash of Pingouin Confort made it’s way to me. Wool, acrylic, mohair. It’ll be long lasting. Probably won’t be my favorite to knit with, but it will be fine for wearing. Sport weight, somewhere in the arena of 1300 yards.

This yarn is allll set to recreate one of my very favorites:

Garment House’s Downton Sweater. So classic, so contemporary. I still feel swoony every time I look at this. Hers is a larger gauge, which I might be able to match with the yarn held double. Or I could leave it as is and make a more delicately gauged version of this sweater.

I’ll have the poll open for a week. Sunday, March 15 at midnight, we’ll see who the winner is!

 

At 60% (12) of the votes, the sea green Sous sous wins the vote! I’m just winding down on another project, so I should be casting on within the week!


it’s done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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i have already documented this sweater fairly extensively, so if you feel like reading the whole history: swatching & casting on, getting part way through the body only to tear back to the yoke, finishing the body and finalizing color choices, steeking, grafting on the button band & finding the right buttons.

FO: stash busting fair isle extravaganza

pattern: classic raglan pullover by barbara walker
needles: size 8 (5.0mm)
yarn: patons north america wool worsted in oatmeal (natural mix is technically what it’s called. it looks oatmeal to me)
cascade ecological wool in a medium grey (leftover from these slippers)
brown sheep lambs pride worsted in tahiti teal (leftover from this hat)
berroco ultra alpaca fine in turquoise mix, held double (leftover from this sweater)
some random navy worsted wool
and a little bit of lion brand wool-ease in apple green

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i cast on for this in january, using the standard pattern for knitting a raglan from the top down, from barbara walker’s book knitting from the top, though it was obviously heavily modified. that is the joy of a pattern like this, though! it’s quite easy to apply any modification you can imagine. i knit it as a deep v-neck pullover first, and then steeked it into a cardigan. i knit the button band separately and grafted it on, placed the buttons and then made afterthought buttonholes. there’s a column of 2 purls running down the inside of each sleeve and the sides of the torso to mimic seams (which i stole from julie’s red sweater) and to give it the tiniest bit more shape and structure.

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you can see the steeked edge and the purl column in this picture!

there was a lot of ‘winging it’ involved in knitting this. i didn’t have the strictest plans for my colorwork patterning, or color sequencing, but i went in expecting i was going to have to tweak it and pull back and replace things in post with a tapestry needle (basically duplicate stitching while pulling out the original color. a little on the time consuming side, but somehow more acceptable to my brain than pulling back and re-knitting). and i did all of those things. i pulled out knitting, replaced about four different parts, re-calculated the entire sweater, you name it, i probably did it.

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i started this sweater in the hopes of using up some of my stash, namely the oatmeal base, and a lot of most-of-the-skein leftovers from other projects. slightly on the annoying side, i didn’t actually finish ANY of these skeins. i still have most of an oatmeal skein leftover (which i may still use up, see below), and a not teensy amount of most of these skeins. ah, well. at least i have a beautiful sweater to show for my efforts!

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so, while i am definitely calling this done, and wearing it around and such, there are a few small things that i may change in the future. i have not quite mastered how to make button bands that i approve of in cardigans. they are already warping slightly, and this makes the sweater look quite ‘handmade’, but not in a way that i like. so i’ve bought some ribbon to back the bands, give them more structure. is there any other method you guys suggest?

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i also had a deeper shawl collar in mind for this sweater, so i might knit some extra depth for the top portion of it and graft it on later… thus hopefully using up the leftover yarn.

this cardigan turned out so well, i’m incredibly pleased! it’s thick and squishy, it could practically be a coat in spring and fall, and another super cozy layer in winter.

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see those misty looking lumps of land out on the horizon? those are the aran islands. we didn’t get there this trip as we had time for one excursion from galway and we chose the cliffs of moher, which i don’t regret in the least. but i’m definitely hoping to make it to the aran islands one day! and i couldn’t resist getting FO pictures of my sweater with such a icon of knitting history in the background!

on a side note, i found out on this trip that the history of the aran sweater is a created history, like the scottish tartans. i’m of two minds about this, where the accuracy loving historian part of me is frustrated by this ‘created culture’ and the ‘don’t let the facts stand in the way of a good story’ part of me thinks it’s actually quite interesting. what are your thoughts on created culturalisms?


occasionally i struggle with whether or not certain subjects are appropriate for this blog. i do try to keep the focus on my knitting, crafting, and personal style for the most part. i have no problem talking about places i go, in case any of you find yourself in the same city, looking for something like it. but i get a little stuck about personal things, especially if they aren’t all sunshine and roses.

but what it comes down to is that i think of you, my readers, as friends, and also, this is a corner of the internet that i have curated as a place for my own thoughts. so why not?

but before we get to that, let me change the subject briefly. rewind the tapes to two weeks ago. i was making quite good progress on my stash-busting sweater:

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i had a few inches of each sleeve and the body. oh, did i mention that of my 5 skeins of the base oatmeal heather yarn, i had 2 skeins of one dye lot, and 3 skeins of another, with a quite noticeable difference between the two tones? lecture to self: this is what happens when you don’t buy sweaters worth of yarn at one time, eliza. you have to get super creative, and figure out work-arounds instead of just knitting a sweater in a simple fashion. end lecture. my work-around was to do alternating rows of the two colors for 10 rows of each yarn, 20 rows total, to transition to the new yarn. it’s still visible, but it’s more of a gradient effect, and less of a striping effect. with lots and lots of yarns to keep track of from the three different portions of the sweater that were all actively being knit.

at this point, i was feeling quite cheerful about my progress. does this sound like a red flag? ha! well, i dove into my wardrobe and found a sweater that fits me the way i envision this one should: kind of chunky, with some positive ease, but still close enough to my size that i’m not swaddled or dwarfed in it. i laid the completely unblocked sweater down, with my store bought sweater over it, and lo! if there wasn’t about 5 inches (12ish cm?) of unnecessary fabric in the body, and about 2 inches in the sleeves (5 cm). cue the popped balloon whizzing around the room and floating sadly to the ground.

this is a very traditional point in a project where my bitter feelings instigate me tossing this into the pile of ignored knits until 18 months later when i either find energy to pick it back up, or i find energy to frog it and put the yarn back in my stash.

this time, however, i re-calculated my numbers, and pulled back to here:

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(old picture, but accurate to the case in point)

it was at this point that i had a day off, and i was sleeping in that morning when my mother called. i let her leave a message, thinking i’d call her back in an hour when i got another 10 minutes of sleep and a cup of coffee. but a few minutes later, my aunt called. if two (related) family members call in quick succession, i always panic. about 50% of the time, it was just a coincidence, and i have a nice chat while my heart slowly returns to a normal pace, but 50% of the time i have reason to worry.

my grandma was ill. very ill. i won’t go into details, but the broad idea is that she has had some heart problems, which had just gotten compounded with pneumonia.

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i have had the extreme good fortune to grow up living blocks away from my grandparents (both sets). and as the eldest child of two eldest children, my grandparents were fairly young and healthy. they all had quite a hand in raising me. my grandma taught me table manners. she brought me to dentist appointments. she was the one who, when the training wheels came off my bike, jogged along behind me, one hand on my bike, until i gained my own momentum. she took me to museums and fancy lunches. she nurtured a love of art in me, which in turn led to my interest and pursuit of art school. she visited colleges with me. i called her when i needed to talk through financial decisions. her input was considered and approval had to be rendered before i accepted student loans or bought my car. the extent to which she helped shape me cannot be calculated, and this list cannot begin to sum up what she was to me.

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i found a flight as fast as i could (they were wintering in new mexico), packed a bag, and my knitting, and got out there as expediently as possible.

my sweater got worked on in small bits and pieces as i spent time at the hospital, a very little bit after my grandma was moved to hospice, and was completely forgotten as she slipped away from us.

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i’ve almost knit back to where i was before i pulled back. but as i’ve been knitting this, and going through what will certainly be a gigantic milestone in my life, i’ve been wondering how this experience will effect my perception of this sweater. will the fact that i lost one of the most important people in my life while working on this make this sweater difficult to wear? will the weight of it on my shoulders bring memories of my difficult emotions? or will i cherish it for being present in my last hours with my grandmother?

have you had any experiences with the imprinting of an experience affecting your knit or final object?


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this is what my couch looks like when i’m… ‘experimenting’. i decided i wanted to start the year off with a project that would really make a dent in my stash. preferably using up multiple yarns that i only have small projects worth of. how to do that? fair isle sweater, of course!

i started off in a fairly logical manner, looking at patterns that i already owned, and settling on the nordic cardigan from vogue knitting, fall 2011. it’s really cute, right? and look how cute squidneyknits version turned out! so i made up a swatch in brownscale:

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only… i hated this swatch. it’s hard to tell in the picture, but the base color has a kind of ‘clay’ tone, with a very slight green cast. and the brown is very very red-based. so, visually, it was not playing out for me. so scratch that… swatch #2:

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ehhh…. that brighter blue feels kind of obnoxious compared to the calmer blues to me…

and then, even though i wasn’t happy with either of my swatches, all of a sudden i was fed up, and cast on for a sweater. that’s probably a *good* idea, right?

but, it’s actually going okay. here it was a few days ago, with neon red nails:

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i decided that the cream was not high enough contrast with the beige, so i went back in with a tapestry needle and yarn and replaced it with grey.

and here it is now, with dark green nails:

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i’m using barbara walker’s top down raglan sweater recipe as my base, using some gorgeous fair isle sweaters from pinterest as inspiration (this one but really mostly actually this one, ugh can you even stand how pretty it is?).

i’m making it a v-neck cardigan, though i haven’t decided if once i get to the bottom of the v, if i want to knit it in the round and steek it later, or knit it flat? and i really didn’t think this through, this was literally the only size 8 (5.00mm) i could find, and honestly, it’s meant for hats, and i have loads of stitches crammed on there. this project could really go south at any point. but it’s kind of fun that way, you know? i’m having fun winging it. speaking of which, i’m still not certain about the color of the little polka dots… that blue is still way too bright, and the grey-green is too similar to the grey that is practically next to it. but i’m okay with going back and replacing that later… once i figure out what to replace it with! i have a kind of periwinkle blue (from my dreiecke), maybe getting a slightly purple-ish yarn would add a bit of contrast? or like leaf green? maybe coral? or is that wayyyy too out there?

anyways, that’s what i’ve been up to, knitting wise! anybody horrified, think i should stop immediately and go back to the planning portion? or do you have any surprisingly happy stories of total on a lark projects turning out beautifully and becoming your favorite thing ever?


darned elbows

quite a while ago my father in law gave me one of his favorite sweaters, one that he’d worn straight through the elbows, with the idea that i might be able to do something about it. at that time i hadn’t darned anything, but i thought it might be worth a shot.

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i tried one of the elbows, but i didn’t think it had worked out too well. so it got set to the side. and stayed there for a quite a while. (this is a theme with many things that i set to one side) i darned a few things, here and there, over the course of time.

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recently, i’ve been seeing gorgeous darned and mended objects on pinterest, and with my current interest in clearing out old projects, i dug the sweater out of the pile of ignored projects. i pulled out the elbow i had already given a shot.

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similar to mending the cardigan, i opted for a thinner yarn. in this case, however, i don’t think it was thinner than the yarn used for the sweater, but it was a similar weight. i used some of a partial skein, leftover from making purlless monkeys. i’ve always been very fond of the colors of this yarn, and i think it’s equally gorgeous woven as it was knit!

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i threaded all of my vertical lines first, establishing a warp, as it were. i didn’t take any pictures, unfortunately, so fire up your imagination cameras and picture it: i ran a warp thread through the middle of every stitch, as well as the ladder between every stitch, going under/over every available intact yarn, with a radius of an inch or two of completely intact knitting around the hole i was mending.

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i then created the weft, with the same yarn, doing the under/over motion to make the woven look. if you need an image to get an idea, this pin pretty much sums it up.

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i don’t know if you can tell, but i’m fairly in love with how this turned out!


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a little over two years ago, i finished a big striped sweater for jake (and here’s the link to the ravelry project page). even then i knew that there was too much space between the buttons (which led to gapping), and my button bands were a bit too long, which warped the front of the sweater a bit.

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so i grabbed a zipper (a dark brown parka zipper, 28″ long, to be precise) from a fabric store, and as we were settling in for a two day marathon of watching harry potter over new years eve & new years day, i thought it might be a good time to pull off this alteration. it was a good plan, as it turned out. it took me the majority of both days to finish up, which i wasn’t really expecting.

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the sequence went as follows:
-i picked out the sewn bind off (a bit of a time suck right there)
-pulled out the original button bands (122 stitches)
-did some maths to cast on a different number (114 stitches. only an 8 stitch difference, which was rather less than i was expecting, but that’s how the maths worked out)
-knit up both button bands
-grafted/kitchenered them on to the body (both a tidy aesthetic, and it allowed me to disperse the stitches quite evenly)
-hand sewed the zipper onto the new button bands
-did a little dance

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this is SO MUCH BETTER. it has to be really really cold for jake to wear sweaters, but hey, guess what? it’s been really really cold around here recently. i’m so glad it’s not gapping anymore. it made it look like the sweater was too small, but it actually fits him quite well. and i think he’ll wear it more frequently with the zipper in.

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but because this was one of my very earliest sweaters, there are still things i kind of wish i could change… is the neck too big? i’m not sure i’m crazy about the way it looks fully zipped… should i try to pull that out and tighten it up too? and why did i choose to use that bright green for the crocheted steek edge? it’s too flashy when you can see the inside of the collar! i’m thinking about picking up some narrow chocolate brown ribbon to sew over it. or am i getting too detail oriented here? what do you think? and now i’ve got those beautiful buttons, attached to nothing! i’m thinking of knitting down some of my naturals/oatmeals/browns in a colowork cardigan. maybe it would look lovely with those?

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