knitting it up in a big way

Tag Archives: fair isle

it’s done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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


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.

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.


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!


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?


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.


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:


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:

(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.


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.


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.


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?


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:


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:


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:


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:


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?

i hope you all had a treat filled halloween, with only a few (fun) tricks. i got more than my usual amount of scares this halloween, but they were spaced far enough apart that i have not turned into the ‘creeping-in-fear’ version of eliza.

as i was walking back from the bookstore the other day, (ugh, they did not have what i wanted to buy, though i did finally find a moleskine 2014 calendar planner: mineallmine!) i passed a loft store advertising 40% off of everything! i rarely shop at loft… it’s less of a choice and more that there isn’t one in the mall where i do the majority of my first hand shopping (which is still pretty rare, y’allll). but here i was, and there was the bright sign, doing it’s job, luring me in! spoiler alert: i didn’t actually buy anything. but, i got a lot of ideas and added a few things to my wish list.

what i was going to show you was the soft drapey cardigan i fell in love with at the store. alack, it doesn’t seem to be online! but while i was searching for it, i kinda fell for this beauty:

striped pointelle yoke sweater

i’m a total sucker for sweaters with multiple techniques. it can be easy, as a knitter, to think: this will be a striped knit. and then not look beyond stripes for possibilities. so combining variations of stitches really gets me excited.


stripes on cables is definitely something i wouldn’t think of! but with the soft overall pattern of cabling on this sweater, i love the extra graphic punch of the stripes!

i can’t find what appears to be an original source for this image… this tumblr post is the furthest back i can trace it.

when i first saw this, i fell madly in love. dense lace with a neckline edging of delicate cable? ohmygosh! so pretty! someday i will try this!

similar story here, unfortunately, but different tumblr

i think this sweater is practically perfect in every way, and i want to recreate it, maybe with a slightly less pink oriented color scheme.

this beauty is rililie‘s 2012 cardigan

this whole cardigan strikes me as kind of a play on expectations! rililie really excels at thinking outside the box when it comes to knitting. this is my very favorite detail on this cardigan, but really, the whole thing is lovely! this one doesn’t follow a pattern, but she has several other patterns that definitely would fall into this category!

g-knits beautiful morrison cardigan

everytime i look at this FO, i have to run to my stash page to see if i have any appropriate yarn. i feel like i say that a lot, but i do only share my very favorites with you guys ^__^.

so! which of the above is your favorite? or are there any beautiful inspiration sweaters that you want to share with me? what’s your favorite combo? are you a stripes and lace? colorwork and cables (ooh, i didn’t find any of those!)? what’s your huckleberry?

sit back, get comfortable, i’m gonna tell you a little story.


once upon a time there was a knitter who bought a bunch of gorgeous yarn. she made it into a gorgeous sweater and hat, over which i swoooooned. that yarn! soooooo pretty! so when she posted another FO and casually mentioned that this gorgeous yarn was never-ending, i saw my opportunity and leapt in with a selfish suggestion that we do a swap, and she would have the opportunity to use up every inch of that yarn on ME if she wanted! i know, i’m just the soul of generosity, yeah? but i do love me a good swap!

well, she accepted the challenge to a knitterly swap, so i went venturing forth to look for inspiration for what to knit for her, and lo! i found a fair isle hat in her queue, and what’s this? aren’t fair isle hats just one of my favorite ever things to knit? why yes, yes they are! so then i went diving into my stash of fingering weight yarns. turns out i like blues, greens, purples, and greys! who would have guessed? so i swatched up a couple of color ideas:


the blues and greens were good, but as soon as i saw the purples & greys together, it seemed obvious to me that they were the winner. after my first swatch, i realized i got confused about the color relationships, so i had to reknit those swatches to what they were originally meant to be. and then i carried that swatch around with me everywhere i went and asked anyone i encountered their opinions, because i liked them both. the more graphic one (the lower one with the black outlining) got more votes, and i actually cast on for the hat intending for the to be the color sequence.

but after i thought about it for a little while (while knitting 1 x 1 ribbing on tiny needles), the more graduated color sequence (the top one) just felt more like ness to me.

FO: Kiss with a Fist

one of the things i like about swaps is that you are knitting for another knitter. when i am knitting for a knitter, i really cannot be lazy about it. i don’t cut corners that i might otherwise. when the instructions asked for a tubular cast-on, i didn’t think petulantly about my previous failed tubular cast-ons and decide that my favorite cable cast-on would be just fine. instead i mulled over my previous attempts at a tubular cast-on and did some research until i found a method that sounded like it would suit me (this one from knitty, for the record). and you know what? it suited me just fine! new knitting skill acquired, thanks to a knitterly swap!

FO: Kiss with a Fist

FO: kiss with a fist <– ravelry project page

pattern: the seasons hat by jared flood
yarns: sadnes garn lanett (the primary grey, purchased from the fold several years ago and used in several projects)
nature’s palette fingering in orchid (purchased in spokane, wa when visiting my dad)
colinette jitterbug in velvet plum (still one of my favorite purples, even five years after buying it on my first trip to what is now my favorite LYS!)
elitespun fingering in charcoal (purchased in toronto on my yarn store tour with julie, and first used in these mittens)
i have no idea what the black yarn is, but it definitely leans a little more towards sport than fingering. that’s okay!
needles: US sizes 1 (2.25mm), 2 (2.5mm) and 4 (3.5mm)

FO: Kiss with a Fist

the project, by the way, is named after the florence + the machine song, because ness has a habit of naming her FO’s from song lyrics, so i thought it only appropriate to name a knit for her with song lyrics. and the colors are a little bruise-y. in the prettiest possible way.

FO: Kiss with a Fist

coming soon: swap! part two! the swappiest!

my cousin sara was talking to me about trying to find some colorwork mitts on the manly side, as she is hoping to make some for a friend, so i thought i’d whip up some inspiration for her!

chinook mitts by jared flood, available for $5.50 online.

vagabond mitts from misa erder, available for $3.99 online.

latvian fingerless mitts by veronick avery. this might be a harder find, it looks like it’s a book only pattern. the book is knitting classic style: 35 modern designs influenced by fashions archives. check your library, or maybe inter-library loan it!

vicars field mitts by karina westerman are available free online.

ix mitts are convertible! they are $6.00 online.

there’s loads of beautiful colorwork mittens that could be easily modified into fingerless mitts with a little finesse and know-how. or even with brute force or trial and error!

burnham by leila raabe are double sided, and either pattern works, though i’m partial to the crosses side, as opposed to the diamonds. this pattern is available for $5.50 online.

heart of the mesa mittens by grace schnebly. i’m using my own as a model, the colors are a tad more masculine… they are available for $6.00 online.

carlisle mittens, also by jared flood (okay, i’ll admit it! whenever looking for any ‘masculine knitting’, i start with jared flood or his brooklyntweed collections.), available for $5.50 online.

and of course colors have a lot to do with it… brownscale, greenscale, bluescale and greyscale are all very masculine. grey & black, or grey and a deep mustard-y gold, or silver grey and burgundy, or brown and a deep blue with just a hint of green, or brown & green… it all depends on the guy.

and these are just for colorwork inspiration! masculine cabled mitts is a whole different can of worms. what’s your favorite ‘masculine’ color combo? have i overlooked any fabulous colorwork mitts?

psst- i’m about to embark on a very busy weekend with limited internet capabilities, but i’ll be wearing 30 for 30 outfits, and i’ll be documenting them! see you on the other side!


aqua brand navy waterfall cardigan target belt old navy dress mystery boots


i had the belt under the sweater, but i kept getting cold at work and holding my sweater closed. then i realized that the belt could do all that work for me!

it’s been too long since you saw some knitting, so….

triangle loop

this bad boy is done. i did some fancy footwork to kitchener it together. it still needs some blocking.

kay's tote

more colorwork!

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