Monday Through Friday

sweater photo 1

I have been wanting to make this sweater for a very long time.  You know how it is. So many sweaters to knit, so little time. This is a free pattern from Knitty.com called Girl Friday. Seems to me it is the perfect work sweater.

I knit this with the perfect yarn, Quince & Co. Lark.  I LOVE this yarn. It’s 4 plies of wool making it a bouncy worsted weight. It’s not superwash which means it is also lighter weight than, say, Madelinetosh Worsted.  Comparing my MadTosh Worsted sweaters with this one – wow! what a difference! This yarn is just soft enough to wear next to skin without any problem. I’m wearing this sweater right now, with that collar on my neck, and it’s just fine.

The pattern called for knitting the pieces separately and sewing it together, but I’m getting lazy in my old age so I did some math and figured out how many repeats I needed to knit the body all in one piece, separating the fronts and back at the armholes.  I also knit the sleeves in the round from cuff to armhole and then back and forth up to the top of the sleeve.  The only sewing was setting in the sleeves, which I actually enjoyed. Just enough sewing to be enjoyable but not a slog.

I made 4 buttonholes instead of the 3 in the instructions. I hate gaping sweater bands.

It fits me really well (the lonnngggg sleeves are intentional) and I’m very happy with this sweater. I knit it in one month and 2 days, so a very quick knit. I’m sure I will wear it a lot!

Basic Black

Today I finished my black hoodie.  The photos are not fantastic, but with this winter weather I’m not going to make a big effort to take better ones.  I have had a migraine for 3 days so I’m happy to get this far!

I wanted a simple pattern with some cables to keep the knitting from boring me to death. This is the perfect pattern for black yarn where you will hardly notice any patterning.  There’s no point spending a lot of time on fancy stitches with black yarn!

The pattern is Piscataqua from Twist Collective.  The yarn is Imperial Yarn Erin, worsted weight.  This is the same yarn that became famous when the U.S. Olympic team’s sweaters were made from it.  I really recommend it and would definitely knit with it again.  It feels like “real wool”, spun just tight enough to be soft and show stitches well.  It is not super-wash and therefore didn’t stretch all out of shape when I blocked it.  It feels great next to my skin.  In fact, after finishing it this morning I haven’t taken it off all day. The fit is perfect and I’m VERY happy with the result.

If you follow the link to the pattern you can see that I didn’t make it as shown.  Of course not. I always have to change something!  I wanted a hoodie with a zipper so I made the front bands half as wide as in the pattern and sewed in a zipper instead of buttons.  This was the first time I’ve ever put a zipper in a sweater.

Because it’s black, it’s hard to see, but above is a photo of the back side after I hand basted the zipper in place.  I did this on both sides.  Then I sewed it down, from the right side, with my sewing machine.  That is what I was scared of – sewing on knitting with my machine, but it was easy! I didn’t have any problems or snags or tearing of yarn.  It was amazingly easy.

I had some woven tape that I then sewed in to the inside, first with the machine next to the zipper teeth.  And then by hand, sewing the tape down to the picked up edge of the knitted band.

There’s only one short area on the outside, along the zipper, where the stitches go a little wonky, but since it’s solid black, it’s very forgiving and you can’t see it unless you know what to look for.

I’m quite proud of the zipper work and I will certainly use zippers more often in cardigans.  I hate how some sweaters pull at the button band and look kind of sloppy.  This is much better.

One last photo with the hood off my head.

Now, about sweater construction – I changed that from the instructions also.  I didn’t agree with the pattern design which had no seams where you need them for strength and seams where they aren’t necessary.  You were supposed to put the back neck stitches on hold and then just knit them again for the hood, leaving no strength at all at the back neck, with a heavy hood hanging from that point.  I didn’t agree with that so I bound off those back neck stitches and then picked them up for the hood, making a “seam” point with more strength.  The sleeves were knit separately and sewn in, which I liked and did.  BUT you were supposed to knit the sleeves flat and seam them.  Why? It didn’t make sense that the body of the sweater could be knit in one piece to the armholes (fronts and back in one piece) but the sleeves must be knit flat and seamed.  Silly.  So I knit the sleeves in the round to the armhole.

And those were my modifications.  Oh yes, and I made the waist just a little shorter because I’m shorter.

Overall, I love the pattern – a well fitting, cleverly designed but simple cardigan.  And the yarn is really the best of basic 100% wool that I would definitely buy again.  I already know that I’ll be living in this thing all winter.

Dahlia is Done

I finally finished this sweater!  I started it ages ago – almost two years ago – and put it into time out a couple of times.  All the stockinette was just so boring.  You see, the back lace part was the only interesting part.  The rest….

… is all just plain knitting.  Ho Hum.  I like it, but it’s strange to wear.  I have only worn it once so far, to work for a whole day, and it felt like it was constantly about to fall off my shoulders.  Most of the time I wore it open, like this.

The yarn is fantastic and feels wonderful and soft.  It’s Madelinetosh Pashmina, sport weight, 75% merino, 15% silk and 10% cashmere, color Duchess.  The pattern is Dahlia from Interweave Knits, Fall 2011.

It’s basically a rectangle with 2 holes for sleeves.  There’s no shoulder shaping at all, which is why it feels so weird.  A shawl with sleeves.  I will wear it more, for sure.  I just have to figure out how to get it to stay where I put it!

Sweater Love

It’s about time I tell you about this sweater!  It’s finished and I’m thrilled that it’s still cool enough that I can wear it comfortably.

The pattern (in case you haven’t been following along) is the Smocked Cable Coat, published in Vogue Knitting.  The yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in color Mourning Dove.  I knit it on US6/4mm needles.  The back and fronts were knit flat and seamed.  The sleeves were knit in the round and then sewn in.

I fell in love with this pattern as soon as I saw it and it seemed the perfect match for this yarn.  I wear a lot of blue and I will definitely get a lot of wear out of this sweater!  It really sucked up a lot of yarn though.  I used 9 skeins for this thing and normally 7 would be enough for a sweater for me.  The bottom is really full and skirt-like and all the cables make it thick and warm at the back.

It might look a little big on me, and I might have gotten away making it a size smaller, but I want to be able to wear it as a winter sweater with something substantial under it, so this is fine.  I also purposely made the sleeves this long.  They are kind of a ruffled look at the bottom and I liked them longer.

All in all it was a really fast, fun knit.  I highly recommend the pattern.  Be sure to check for errata though as there were mistakes in the printed version.

Here’s a photo of me sewing up the shoulder seam.  Unlike a lot of people, I really don’t mind sewing up garments.  Maybe that’s because I’ve done it a lot and I know quite well how to do it.  There’s no guesswork.  And a good seam is a beautiful thing, strong and functional.  You can’t even see where my side seams are, if I’m allowed to brag a little.

I’ll have more news about sweater construction, seams, finishing and all that in a later blog post.  I have some exciting news to report but it’s a little early to start blowing horns.

Anyway, you can bet I’ll be wearing this sweater every chance I get before it gets too warm outside.

Cardigan WIP

I’m working away on my smocked cable cardigan.  Above are the two sleeves done, and part of the back piece done.  I got up to the part of the back where I should start making the cables and realized I was in trouble.  I won’t have enough yarn to finish this sweater.

I have 8 100 gram skeins of yarn and you’d think that would be plenty.  The first problem is that ONE of the skeins is a really different color than the rest.  Now, if 2 or 3 were different, I could alternate skeins and work them in and all would be fine.  But ONE skein being different just makes it unusable in my opinion.  Secondly, I think I will really need 9, not 8 anyway.  The back piece takes up huge amounts of yarn because it is long, flared and wide at the bottom, and is full of cables at the top.  Here’s a photo of what the back will look like:

smockedcablecoatback

What am I going to do with this thing?  I realized on Thursday night I’d be short of yarn.  Friday morning I woke up and got right on this problem.  I went to Ravelry to see who stocks Madelinetosh yarn and then I went stocking those sites, looking for Vintage in color Mourning Dove.  I only had to look to 2 shops before finding some at the Loopy Ewe, out of Colorado.  YAY!  Do you know how hard it is to find this yarn?  Hard.  I am so lucky.

Anyway, I ordered 4 skeins.  FOUR? you ask.  Yes, four.  I’m guessing I’ll need 2 and maybe 3 and what if I’m completely wrong?  I ordered 4.  I can always destash the leftovers or make something to go with this sweater, like mittens or a hat.  You can never have too much Madelinetosh, that’s what I always say (and have the stash to prove).

But I still have the problem of skeins that are not the same color as the knitting I’ve already done.  I’m going to try something I hope will be ok.  I’m going to knit the backs and fronts up to the start of the cable pattern with the yarn that I have.  Then at that point, when the pattern and fit of the sweater changes, I’ll alternate in the new skeins.  At least a slight change in color will be at a changing point in the pattern and should seem like it makes sense.  Working with hand dyed yarn is beautiful and lovely, but sometimes a pain.  No 2 skeins are perfectly matched and you always have to take that into account.

My yarn shipped yesterday and I should have it in a couple of weeks.  Meanwhile I’ll continue knitting the fronts and will also continue knitting a secret project that I can’t show you yet.  But soon!