Canal Poncho in Amsterdam

At Stephen & Penelope in Amsterdam, standing in front of the Corrie Worsted wall

This past Sunday I finished my Canal Poncho and today I visited Nancy in Amsterdam and we took some photos. I really (not just saying it) love this poncho. The design is so unique and clever and the yarn is wonderful to knit with and is very warm and cozy. And just look at these colors! Nancy and I have really different color palettes for our ponchos and they both look great (if I do say so myself).

I talked about this poncho in a previous post and I gave some tips about knitting it. I have some tips about finishing it too.

When I started this poncho I wound up my bobbins with 6 arm lengths of yarn on each bobbin. I had no idea how far that would get me. Nancy had said that 3 arm lengths would be good to start with but you might run out and have to start another length of yarn before you get to the end. Three arm lengths would be the MAX I would recommend if you are NOT using bobbins because otherwise you’ll end up with a very tangled mess after every 2 rows. I had big enough bobbins that I could easily fit more yarn so I went for longer lengths hoping that I would have enough to get through the entire piece with just that. And I did! I had about 6″ (15cm) of dark blue and orange left at the end of the longest cables – just enough! My advice is to wind as much as you can on the bobbins and then you only have to deal with 2 ends – beginning and end – per color.

I think it is just as important to have beautiful insides of garments as well as outsides, so in full disclosure style, here is the inside of my poncho. You can see, at the very beginning of the cable section, a little “oops” bit of orange yarn carried over. By the time I saw that mistake I was so far along that I couldn’t bring myself to rip back and fix it. So I sewed it down a little while at the same time weaving in the beginning of the orange yarn tail and left it there. It is a testament to being human after all. And then I paid really close attention after every row to make sure I hadn’t made a mistake in where I left the yarns. There were 2 more times when I saw that I had laid them incorrectly. To fix that I unwound my bobbin, pulled the yarn out from where it was and stuck it back in where it should be. One time I had to drop the cable stitches, tink those back 2 rows, fix the yarn end, and knit the cable back up. It’s hard to explain in text but if you’re knitting this pattern you’ll know what I mean. It was frustrating and took time to fix but looking at the clean inside of this garment is very satisfying. Well worth the effort.

I steam blocked the poncho pieces before sewing them together. I found that my knitting was a little skewed and the pieces were not straight rectangles but some steaming took care of that quickly and easily. Steaming also relaxed the stitches so that the cable stitches look neater and more even.

When I had finished the knitting, and had sewn the shoulder seams, I left all the ends of yarn hanging. I picked up the stitches around the neck and knit the neckband. THEN I wove in the ends of yarn from the cable section, weaving them into the seam of picked up stitches from the neckband. In this way you have no bulk from weaving ends into the front poncho knitting. After all the ends were woven in I sewed down the neck band loosely on the inside. It makes for a very neat edge.

I also steamed the neckband when all was done. I held my super steam iron above the knitting, hit it with blasts of steam, and then just patted it down a little with my hand.

This poncho took me 2 1/2 months from start to finish, but of course it wasn’t my only project and I was also traveling during that time. It is a project that takes dedication in attention, time and space. I worked on the front piece upstairs on my craft work table where it stayed put. Moving all those bobbins and cakes of yarn around was just not a reasonable thing to do and working on it on a table is by far the easiest way to go. I’m lucky to have a dedicated space for that. I also had a schedule – at least 4 rows and preferably 6, per day. That kept it enjoyable and kept me on track to finish before the book is available.

You can find this pattern, and more beautiful garments using La Bien Aimée Corrie Worsted, in the book “Worsted”, available on her website here. The Canal Poncho can be seen also on Ravelry here. My project page is here.

Poncho Progress

I’ve been working steadily on my Canal Poncho, designed by Nancy Marchant, pattern published in “Worsted – a Knitwear Collection” (Laine Magazine publishers), using La Bien Aimee Corrie Worsted yarn. The plain back is already finished and I’m almost half way finished with the front, with all these colorful intarsia cables. This is the first time I’ve worked intarsia cables and once you get the hang of it, it’s really addictive. You DO have to manage a lot of yarns but thankfully I don’t mind untangling yarn – it’s a zen exercise. There are 5 balls of yarn and 18 small bobbins of yarn going on. Not for the faint of heart and not really for new knitters either.

I really love finishing 2 rows, turning it over and seeing what the new progress looks like. The cables are worked only on the right side rows, so the wrong side rows go quickly. I stop and straighten out my yarns every 2 rows. My shoulders thank me for the little break in the knitting. I am knitting this project, and leaving it to sit when not knitting it, on my sewing table upstairs. I would find it really difficult to knit with it on my lap. The table supports everything and keeps it organized.

Wrong side view

Nancy has included very detailed instructions in the pattern, explaining how to move your yarns so that the wrong side is super neat and there are not long floats anywhere. Look at how nice it is! I have to be honest. The first time I made a swatch of this cable pattern I had it wrong and there were floats here and there. I had to stop and read the instructions again and then just followed them! It’s all there – I just thought I was so clever that I didn’t have to read it through. WRONG! Trust the pattern and do what it says and it will come out like this.

I’m working on a schedule so that I get it done sooner rather than later, and so that I don’t get burned out on it. I knit 4 or 6 rows per day. Every day. It’s my quota. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but with this kind of knitting it’s all my brain and shoulders and back can handle right now. I’m also doing some light yoga in the mornings and a little hat knitting in the evenings. My shoulder strength is coming back slowly but surely.

So far there are only 2 Canal Poncho projects on Ravelry, but if anyone out there wants to give it a try, I say go for it! I’d be happy to give you tips and encouragement. And look what an amazing project you will have when it’s done!

Canal Poncho – finished example – Laine Publishing photo