Monday, July 21, 2014

Never EVER too many black sweaters. . .

Once the weather got warm this spring, I really missed my black cardigan.  Last year I made Miriam, and I find myself wearing it at least once a week when the weather is cool.  But I really can't wear wool once it warms up.   Though Miriam isn't a big bulky sweater, it is a warm one.

So, I interrupted my regularly scheduled knitting (Breckon, you are who I am thinking of) to make a black sweater I can wear in the spring and summer.  I chose Bonne Marie Burns' Abria sweater, because I have enjoyed knitting her patterns in the past, and it's similar to Miriam, but not the same.
I think it's going to be just the thing.
It's made of Juniper Moon Farm Zooey yarn, a linen/cotton blend.  As you can see, it's kind of a thick and thin yarn.  I think it's nice to have some texture in this simple design, although it may not be the optimal way to show off the lace detail.  Also, it came in black, which turned out not to be so easy to find in a dk yarn that blended cotton with silk or linen.  I hoped the linen would enhance the drape and body of the cotton yarn, and it seems fine.  Also, it's not too warm.  Really, though I might appreciate those sleeves after dark or when I'm somewhere with too cool air conditioning, what I really wanted was the look a cardigan can give to finish an outfit.  Warm wasn't wanted.

The construction of this sweater was really fun.  It was the first time I have knitted a sweater from the top down.  First, I knit the back of the neckband, then picked up stitches for the back and sleeves.  Then, stitches are picked up for the front.  There are short rows and some nice shaping.  I made it as written, except to add some rows of length at the end -- two extra 8-row repeats of the short row shaping, without the decreases (though I did the decreases as written up to that point).  I don't know if my row gauge was off, or if my torso is long, but when I tried on the sweater before the ribbing, it wasn't long enough.  So, I got to see for myself one of the advantages of knitting from the top down.  I also used one size smaller needle for the bottom ribbing, and two sizes smaller for the sleeve ribbing.

Initially, I used the same size as the rest of the sweater for the sleeve ribbing, as directed.  I think I was afraid after the slightly too-tight sleeves of Miriam (which do stretch on wearing, by the way).  But the sleeves on this sweater are fairly generous, and cotton and linen are inelastic.  So, the first time I wore the sweater, the sleeves stretched unattractively at the elbows.  It was but the work of a couple of TV viewings to unravel and reknit them, and totally worth it.  Here's the "before" picture of the sleeves:


  • Chic Knits Abria, knit to size 38
  • Juniper Moon Farms Zooey, 60% cotton, 40% linen, 284 yards in 100 grams, color 10 (Anise) 3 skeins (from Webs)
  • size 4 (US) needles for the body,  size 3 for the bottom ribbing, and size 2 for sleeve ribbing
  • knit as written except for two extra repeats without decreasing of the front (wrap) shaping rows, and using smaller needles for ribbing.
  • On Ravelry here

Monday, June 30, 2014

Special delivery

Sometimes, the biggest gift is received by the giver - and this was one of those times.  This past spring, we joined my daughter, for a couple of weeks, in Italy, where she was studying.  We had the privilege of meeting the woman who hosted her homestay.  I had made the Alby scarf for her, and it was such a treat to present it in person. 

My daughter helped me (by phone and LONG distance) to choose colors, and I was so happy that they looked so pretty with her eyes. 

What a blessing this lady was -- of course room and board had been paid, but she gave my daughter so many things money can't pay for -- kindness, care and concern when she was sick, friendship, good advice, and so much more.  She even invited us for a meal in her lovely home.  It's hard to out-give a generous soul, and so my knitting was only a token.  So glad we got to meet face to face.  Ciao!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Giving away what you'd like to keep

I've always thought that wishing you could keep something for yourself that you bought (or made) for a gift is a good sign you've chosen well.  A couple of weeks ago, I finished this little scarf I intend for a gift.  And I think it's turned out rather well.

I won't get to give it to its recipient for a while, so thus this picture of me.
  • Alby, by Bonne Marie Burns. 
  • Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere (70% superwash merino wool, 20% Cashmere, 10% nylon), colors Dark Current and Scorched Lime
  • bought at Yarn Folk in Ellensburg 
  • on Ravelry here
I think there's enough of the yarn left to knit another scarf if I reverse the colors.  Maybe that one can be mine, or maybe it'll be another gift.  By the way, if you're reading this, the scarf pictured isn't for you -- sorry.   The colors are prettier in person, and the yarn is altogether fabulous.  The pattern is just interesting enough, and well written.  Maybe I'll get better pictures, in better light, when I give it to its intended wearer.  What do you think?  A good gift?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Roving Kind of Cowl

A couple of years ago, I made Trish Woodson's My Kind of Cowl for my sister for her birthday. 

This year, I made one for my birthday.  For me!
My kind of cowl - Imperial Wool two-strand roving

My Kind of Cowl, designed by Trish Woodson
  • Imperial Yarn bulky two strand pencil roving, dyed charcoal color, two skeins, 100% wool
  • US size 11 needles
  • 38 stitches, knit for 42 inches, grafted (That's the whole pattern, really)
  • on Ravelry here
I started thinking about making this cowl when I saw a picture of my faux leather top with a similar cowl.  I made it "longer" than the first one to fit over my shoulders.

The pencil roving makes a wonderful, warm, lofty piece, but it is tricky to knit with - it's better to avoid quick tugs or tight knitting.  It is REALLY tricky to graft with.  I used some good instructions for garter kitchener stitch, but then got it backward.  I could show you, but I won't.  I'm not fixing my mistake, because I don't think the roving would hold up to a re-do.  Even with twisting the roving often to keep it from wisping apart, I had to splice the grafting yarn back together fairly often.  This is a great piece of knitting for a beginner, but I'd suggest a beginner use a more constructed yarn.  On the other hand, if you're NOT a beginner, give this pencil roving a try.  I'm very happy with my cowl.

Another bit of birthday happiness was waking up to this photo in a text from my daughter -
Dilys, being worn in Italy.  Happy.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

All I got for Christmas (knitter's version)

Well, not ALL, but I was blessed with quite a lot of knitting-ish presents this Christmas.

First of all, there are few women and even fewer knitters who think that "too many bags" is a real thing.  So, I was delighted to get two wonderful bags for storing and toting my knitting.  From my mom, the wonderful Swift bag from Tom Bihn.

As many of you might know, this bag was a joint effort between Tom Bihn and the gang at Knitty.  You can read more about all its cool features - but I'll just say, it really is a terrific bag.  It doesn't feel or look much bigger than a medium-large purse, but it holds a whole sweater's worth of yarn, and the pattern book, and a bunch of knitterish tools.  And your phone.
It includes what Tom Bihn calls a medium stuff sack. 
I brought some knitting to the movies the other night, and knit with a cake of roving from the stuff sack.  It worked great.

The other bag was from my son, and it's double terrific.
A Tardis, and though maybe not TRULY bigger on the inside, it still holds two skeins and needles.  Plus, it's a Tardis.

Then, my sister and brother-in-law drew my name this year.
Knitivity: Create Your Own Knitted Nativity Scene. Fiona Goble
The Knitivity book is quite inspiring.  I like the idea of knitting one figure (maybe two) a year for a nativity scene, maybe for myself and a few other family members.  Will I do it?  Maybe.  Is it a good idea?  Yes!

I don't have a link for the mug, but if you find one, you'll like it.  The "knit" part feels unglazed, but the top and inside are glazed.  It feels great in your hand, and it's made my morning coffee even MORE welcome.

And then there's this:
My kids channeling awkward family photos in their "twin" Urban Aran sweaters.

Knitting love for Christmas. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

2013 in Review

2013 was not a prolific knitting year.  I have always been a slow knitter.  I knit a little almost every day, but only a little most days.  The black sweater I knit for myself gets worn VERY often, so that was time well-spent.  I discovered what a cute background our little crabapple tree makes for small items.  And, the sweater I just finished took almost a quarter of 2013, but wasn't finished by the end of the year. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

I've been knitting all week like it was Christmas Eve!

Because I needed to finish this:
. . . before my daughter got on the plane to Italy this morning.

In fact, knitting for a departing traveller is more intense than knitting for a gift.  I have never been too ashamed of wrapping a partly finished project (or even yarn) with a picture and a note, and giving the gift when I finish.  But once she leaves, my daughter is gone till April.  It's expensive to mail parcels, not to mention the risk I'd take, mailing something hand-made.  Plus we've heard enough stories about parcels held by customs in Italy to make us think we'd be better off not mailing anything but letters.  So, I had a true, hard deadline.

And I made it.

The sweater is Dilys, from the Rowan Tweed book by Marie Wallin.

I love this design - someone else on Ravelry called it their Reims sweater, and I think that's a perfect name.  The cables are delicate gothic arches of knitting, and then the yoke is the rose window of stained glass, er, tweed yarn.  I was so glad when my daughter said she not only liked it too, but wanted one.  It was fun to use the Rowan yarn the pattern called for, though we tweaked the colors a bit.  One of the things I love about Rowan color ranges is that their yarns work well together - I also used a Rowan yarn for the Counting Pane afghan I made a few years ago.

We substituted the red and brown colors for the more subdued mossy greens of the original, but kept the oatmeal color (actually called Arncliffe) for the body, and a darker beige as one of the yoke colors. By the way, this yarn is greatly improved with the first washing.  I washed my gauge swatch and was glad I did - both to see how pretty it was when the yarn relaxed and bloomed,  and also because the gauge was different after washing. 

Dilys by Marie Wallin
  • Rowan Tweed yarn, 100% wool, dk weight, colors Arncliffe, Bainbridge, Keld, and Bedale.  
  • Size 4 and 2 needles (US)
  • leather buttons I've been hoarding for years (still have a few left too.)
  • On Ravelry here (more construction details, too)
I wish we could have gotten some pictures in natural daylight, but by the time the knitting was finished (Wednesday night), the ends woven in (Thursday afternoon) and the sweater was washed, blocked and (nearly) dried (Thursday night late), there was no daylight left before the departure.   Still, it's done.  I love the wedge shaped button bands - made with short rows. Actually, I love pretty much everything about this cardigan. 

Now the sweater and my daughter are somewhere over the Atlantic, and I'm missing them both.  But isn't it nice they're on this trip together?