September 12, 2012 § 8 Comments
It is a fact commonly acknowledged that, when under duress, knitters turn to their knitting. It’s how we cope. Life may be tumultuous, but it helps us to maintain complete control over something, and work at it one stitch at a time. It’s also apotropaic– a way to keep hard times at bay, and, well, it’s a verb for keeping warm. I am no different from any other knitter– except maybe that I’m so dependent on my knitting that the real warning sign is when I’m not knitting. That means trouble.
Anyway, since I’ve just moved and changed jobs, I’ve been redirecting my nervous energy into a sweater that I started at the beginning of the year:
I’m very, very proud of how it’s turning out. There are lots of little clevernesses in the construction that I can’t wait to show off, the fit’s pretty perfect, and the yarn, of course, is one of a kind.
August 3, 2012 § 3 Comments
Juniper Moon Farm will be debuting a really fantastic yarn this fall. It’s called Herriot (yep), and it’s a DK weight alpaca yarn in 10 different natural colors (as in, undyed, straight-off-the-alpaca!). I’ve been involved in putting together the pattern book, which is another tale for several other days– one that I really can’t wait to share with you. The story of this sweater begins at the exact point when I saw this yarn, because I knew exactly what I was going to make with it.
I think a common trait among anyone who makes things is that she carries around a mental (and opportunistic) list like this one: “If I ever happen to encounter [x] sort of fabric, or wood, or yarn, or ground, I’d do [y] with it.”
My list, ever since the fall of 2009, when Kate published the pattern, had included the entry (x=slightly over 1000 yds drapey alpaca DK, y=Manu). When Herriot arrived from the mill early this spring, I knew my yarn had arrived.
As soon as the Herriot arrived, though, there was the matter of that aforementioned pattern book, so I wasn’t able to get to cast on for this sweater until June. (Not that this was a bad thing! I spent this past spring doing some really neat work that I’m really proud of, and can’t wait to show off!) Plus, I felt pretty guilty nabbing sweater quantities of a fantastic new yarn, so I waited until the not-quite-used up skeins of yarn came back from our wonderful test knitters, and then used about 10 of those already-orphaned skeins.
As soon as I was finished with my last book-related knitting project– as it happens, I was in the car on the way to TNNA with Susan– I set it down and picked up work on Manu. I’m lucky that the construction was so simple, because it made for perfect car-knitting. Things don’t get more oceans-of-stockinette than an extra-long seamless yoked cardigan with a pleated neckline– I think Kate describes it as “knitting a giant box.”
I worked the slightly-more-fiddly finishing– the pleats, puffed pockets, blousy sleeve cuffs, and the miles of i-cord trim– while on vacation (!) in Chapel Hill. I’m really, really happy with how it turned out. I know I’ll be using Herriot in the future– I’ve got other projects on my mental list that are clamoring to be made!
Yarn: Herriot in River Birch
Needles: US 5 circulars and DPNs
Timespan: June 21st – June 27th
February 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
My Tinder is cranking along pretty nicely. I’m over my snobbishness about seamlessness (namely, I realize that there’s a reason why things ought to have seams, and I don’t mind making them), so knitting the thing in pieces is no hardship.
I’m primarily concerned that I’m going to lose steam, and, as such, am knitting absolutely as fast as I can. It’s kind of an analogous problem to worrying about running out of yarn– you subconsciously begin to knit faster, in the hopes of outrunning your shortage of yarn.
I’m even making the sleeves simultaneously! I am just that worried that the project will languish with one sleeve left to go. I mean, it’s not like it hasn’t happened before.
ETA: I’m actually all finished– all there’s left to do is photograph it (sans buttons), and then send it off in the mail. I can’t wait to show it to you! It’s a beauty!
February 10, 2012 § 3 Comments
After putting in another 5 hours on Jay’s sweater, and knitting a pretty mindless rectangle, I got up to the underarms.
All the arrows, you can see, are pointing to tiny irregularities that occur at regular intervals up along the garter stitch borders. These irregularities are wraps. The amount of vertical space (known as row gauge, and measured in rows per inch) that stockinette stitch (the stitch the body’s done in: every stitch a knit stitch) and garter stitch (the stitch the front borders are done in: alternating rows of knit and purl) take up are different. Garter stitch, since it moves more laterally and frontwards/backwards, takes up less vertical space. Therefore, if the two are going to coexist side-by-side, you need to work an extra row or two of garter stitch every now and again. Turns out, every 6th row, you turn the work, and add a short little 7th and 8th row to each border– the irregularities, the wraps, are the evidence left over from executing that turn (the move itself is called wrap and turn, and is used for working short rows. Also, there are lots of different ways to work a short row.).
Okay, so, another 5 hours, and we’ve got both the right and left fronts, and the back completed. The fronts involve putting stitches for the underarms on hold (white yarn), decreasing for the armscye and the opening of the neckline (arrows again), and working increases on both sides of the garter stitch borders to create a gentle shawl collar.
So, what we’ve got, from the front, looks like this:
The two sides of the collar meet at the back of the neck and are grafted together. Here’s the back of the neck. The seam’s circled:
The back, of course, is sewed to the right front and the left front. These seams, usually situated at the tops of the shoulders, are, in this design, placed a few inches over the curve of the shoulder– it’s a very thoughtful touch, and looks very clean and professional (Bravo, Alexis!).
After that, the body’s done (until it’s time to return for finishing work: zippers and pockets). Time for sleeves.
Okay, I’ve put the sleeve on hold so I can take this photo, because this is important. So, basically, thus far, I’ve knitted a vest. To put sleeves on it could be as simple as picking up the stitches around each armscye and knitting around and around. However, let’s do one better, and think about sleeves (and arms). Because the arms’ natural position is by one’s sides, less material– less fabric– is needed at the underarm than at the top of the arm. Hence this, the short-row sleeve cap. Before working the spiraling round-and-round of the sleeve, first you work a sleeve cap back-and-forth, using short rows. You begin working the stitches at the top of the arm, and, with each pass back and forth, add one stitch on either the right or left side of those stitches– you’re working a short-row that gets longer by 1 st with each iteration. Eventually, all the stitches have been subsumed, the center/top of the sleeve is longer than the sides/bottom, and you switch to working the sleeve in the round (that’s the part I’m about to start on).
February 7, 2012 § 1 Comment
When you start work in the yarn & fiber business, one of the rudest awakenings (and, later, most irritating assumptions) is that one does not, in fact, spend one’s day knitting, spinning, and hazily swanning around the pastoral scene. Like everybody else, I mainly write emails, answer the phone, help customers, and solve all the problems I’m able to.
How nice, then, to be asked– no, assigned– to spend the day knitting!
We’ve had a few customers who had had trouble making the Child’s Eared Hoodie. So, my job last Thursday was to knit the pattern and, in so doing, come up with the Errata (they’re here). I made the smallest size, and it took about half of the day.
In yet another happy coincidence, one of my friends had recently asked me to knit a baby something– a cousin, I think– and so I’ll be sending this off to him.
I’m quite pleased with how it turned out. I didn’t add the ears– children suffer enough indignities without having a pair of animal ears slapped on their heads– and, of course, I fixed the mistakes and unclear portions of the pattern, but, otherwise, it’s exactly as written. I especially love the smart little i-cord ties at the front!
- Pattern: Child’s Eared Hoodie, by Tanis Gray, from Juniper Moon Farm Chadwick Booklet
- Yarn: JMF Chadwick, 2 balls, in Clear Skies
- Needles: US 7, which is a size smaller than recommended, but I’m a loose knitter (who doesn’t own US 8 needles AT ALL!)
- Dates: February 2nd, 2012
This is, incidentally, the first thing I’ve actually finished in 2012. So there’s got to be some good magic in there somewhere.
February 4, 2012 § 2 Comments
Here is an admission. I haven’t shown much of my January Aran sweater, because, frankly, there hasn’t been too much to show. I am knitting at what is, for me, a positively glacial pace. I have just about 12″ to show for a month of work.
There are so many other irons in the fire– both knitting-related and not– that I haven’t found the time to devote to this.
I’m still pleased with it, of course. It’s just so much easier to crank away at a project when the pattern’s laid out in front of you, instead of waiting to be invented.
It doesn’t help that the weather’s so wretchedly warm, and that I recently re-inherited about 10 of my old machine-knit sweaters from middle and high school (hand-me-back-ups, I guess they are). I’m certainly not motivated to want another sweater, beautiful and handmade or not.
I haven’t given up yet. But this one’s definitely on the back burner, and may very well spend most of the spring there.
February 1, 2012 § 2 Comments
Yesterday, I went to the DMV to get my Virginian driver’s license, car title, license plates, and voter registration. Because I am one of those people who finds a deep satisfaction in doing the right thing, and doing it in the right way (which probably says horrible Jasager things about me), I was pretty excited at the prospect. Knowing full well the godawful wait that, well, awaited, I was also feeling pretty clever that I’d brought my knitting.
However, it wasn’t to be. Two rows in, my number was called, and I was up at the counter, handing over every piece of Important Paper I own. I left, satisfied, with everything I’d come for. I am now an official Virginian– the best part of which is BORROWING PRIVILEGES from the UVA Library system (I’ve been in torment without easy access to a university library. The parking for the library may be a fresh torment, but at least I don’t have an excuse anymore to Not Read Books.).
The knitting I was so excited about is the Jared Flood pattern, Tinder, which I’ve admired since the BT Fall collection was released back in September. I’m making it as a present for someone, and, somehow, I’ve ended up in an inadvertent knitalong with Zac’s mom. She’s going to beat me to the finish. I’m sure of it. It’s not a race.
I’m working in Sabine, which is exactly as described– the yarn that will steal your heart. As a sworn cotton-hater, I was prepared to dislike it. And, of course, I love it. It has all the lightness of cotton, but none of its harshness, dry feel, or inelasticity. It has a beautiful hand, and perfect drape. I’ve worked with it before, test knitting a garment for Marie Grace’s beautiful collection, and knew then that I wanted to use it again. It may end up being my go-to worsted this spring.
This is the 4th big knitting project I’ve taken on this spring– wish me luck and speed (and smaller requests)!
January 23, 2012 § 7 Comments
This sweater is hands-down fantastic, and perhaps one of the BEST things I’ve ever knit.
It is terribly warm, incredibly soft, entrancingly constructed, and traced with all different braids and cables. It’s also (as of Christmas) my mother’s. She gets lots of compliments on it, she says, and even I– who knit the thing– can’t help but stare at the cables twisting and swooping all around. This pattern is a masterpiece. I bought it because I couldn’t stand to NOT have made something that was so obvious (a knitted circle, shaped with short-rows, add sleeves), yet still so inscrutable and fascinating.
Honestly. I could stare at this thing all day. It’s probably a GOOD thing I don’t own it.
Here’s the other thing, though.
I am wholly confident that this sweater would be nowhere near as wonderful as it is if it weren’t for the incredible yarn I knit it in. I’ve sung the praises of Chadwick before, and, well, I’m about to sing ‘em again.
This sweater was made to luxuriate in. The wide garter collar (and fat 18-stitch reversible cable) drape cozily around the neck, the fronts come gently together, and the back sweeps around in true show-off fashion, weighted by that giant cable that goes around the perimeter. This sweater is not for hard wear, or heavy use– although it is for serious cold.
Therefore, in this instance, a yarn you’d like to stick your face in to would not be a bad choice. Not to keep harping on Giant-Perimeter-Cable, but, when worked in a yarn like Chadwick, you end up with such a QUANTITY of thick, soft, downy round-the-neck fabric that you can’t help but nuzzle and scrunch down into it (think: turtle).
Some other stats:
- Needles: US 9 and 10
- Dates: October 10, 2011 – December 23, 2011. I lost a little steam somewhere around Fall Shearing, and never really got it back until after our S/S 2012 photoshoot (more on which when the Time Is Right).
To close, I leave you with my dad’s very memorable praise: “Now, you can’t just find something like that at the K-Mart.”
Something to which all knitwear should aspire.
ETA (I always forget this!): Ravel’d here.
January 3, 2012 § 4 Comments
Elizabeth Zimmermann begins her Knitter’s Almanac with an Aran sweater (“a challenge,” she says, and promises “Simpler projects will follow”), and this sentence:
“Once upon a time there was an old woman who loved to knit.”
This is one of the most simple, pleasant, and memorable opening lines I know of (“an old woman’s knitting, ἄειδε θεὰ”).
Setting out to follow, this is the shape my beginning has taken:
Several Barbara Walker stitch dictionaries, the 2010 reprint of Aran Knitting, a buried sketchbook, open Ravelry page, and, of course, Knitter’s Almanac itself
(also pictured: camera battery charger, wallet, chocolate bar, US 4 circular needles, WOOL.)
The wool in question is Cormo Rusticus, a unique and one-time woolen offering from JMF (you read, didn’t you, that we’d all set some aside for ourselves?). It’s creamy, luscious, and utterly unlike anything I’ve ever knit with before. It really is exactly identical to the stuff that the sheep out there are covered in– although that’s obviously no surprise.
In lieu of reinforcing the so-often-imposed dichotomy between softness and scratchiness/sheepiness (and the perhaps concomitant moral imperative– to which I so often fall prey– to choose the sheepy and scratchy over the silk/alpaca/mass-produced-merino and soft), I won’t be telling you that this wool is “So cozy, yet so sheepy– it’s a perfect marriage!”, because I think that’s the easy way out, and that’s boring.
Really, the adjective that comes closest is creamy. It’s like the inside of a perfectly-cooked bean. Tender. With substance. Coherent. Two ticks to the smooth side of gritty. It’s perfect.
Anyway, let’s talk about cables!
And, because I am, after all, in debt to the Divine Elizabeth, I can’t not put a Fishtrap Cable on either side of the front.
There are two Sheepfold cables on the back (of course),
two Aran Braids underneath either armhole,
and two irresistably-named somethings that Barbara Walker calls Sausage Cables.
And there are two panels of Gull Stitch, flanking the 10 steek sts (I like to give myself lots of room).
If you’d like to knit along with me, I don’t think I can recommend Cormo Rusticus highly enough. I’ll be posting pretty frequently about the making of it here on my blog, so stay tuned– or, better still, knit an Aran with me!
ETA: Ravel’d here! How could I have forgotten!?
September 26, 2011 § 4 Comments
I’m a little bit hamstrung by the nature of this particular cardigan– it’s a gift– but I’m too proud of how it turned out to not show you a hint of what it looks like. It’s almost done, except for sewing in the zipper (I’m going to try this method, which doesn’t actually involve sewing at all).
So, you know, stay tuned & all that.