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 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!

Mad May Indeed


Over on the Ravelry group Madelinetosh Lovers, Mad May is in full swing.  Lots of people are knitting with Madelinetosh yarn with the aim of finishing a project within the month of May.  I started a project but I clearly won’t make the deadline.

Above is one finished sleeve.  I knit nearly all of it on my trip from Amsterdam to Bangkok.  I’ve also started the body, knit in the round, but I’m only about 3 inches (7.5cm) along.  I’m here in Thailand, on business (photos taken in my hotel room), and have been working a lot and not having a lot of knitting time.  I only have one day off while I’m here (today) and I’m going to spend 4 hours in a spa getting rubbed, scrubbed and pampered.

Anyway, back to the sweater.  This is a mashup of 2 sweater patterns.  I liked parts of each so put them together in my own kind of concoction.  I’ll detail all that out when the sweater is finished and I know which of my modifications really work.

Here are some closeup photos so you can see what the lace really looks like.  The yarn is Tosh Sock in color Lettuce Leaf which I’ve been hording for quite a long time, waiting for the perfect pattern to come along.  I guess I had to make up my own.

And, yes, you read correctly, Thailand.  The place that has just been taken over by a military coup d’etat.  Luckily I’m not in Bangkok, but in Chiang Mai, up north where life is still peaceful and people just go to work and go shopping and carry on with their lives.  As long as the airports stay open…..

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!

Neon is New!

I just finished knitting this sweater and I LOVE it!  The pattern is Neon by Joji Locatelli.  The yarn is Madelinetosh DK Twist in color Mansfield Garden Party.  If ever a pattern and yarn were meant for each other, this is it.

The yarn is so variegated that I really had no idea what I was going to make with it that wouldn’t end up looking like a pooled mess or clown barf.  Then my new friends I met in Santa Cruz showed me all their Neon sweaters and I thought that I had found the solution.  I did indeed!

Like all Madelinetosh (and most all hand dyed) yarns, there are differences in each skein.  You can overcome this by alternating skeins as you knit (to mix up the color differences) but I really didn’t want to bother.  What I did bother with, however, was making sure that where I changed skeins, the color differences were matched in the body and sleeves.  You can see above where the colors kind of change, and they change at the same points in the body as in the sleeves.  I weighed my skeins and used 60% for the body (knit in one piece) and 20% for each sleeve.  Clever, no?  These color differences are much more obvious in a photo than in real life.

Modifications I made to the pattern –
First, I didn’t make all the waist decreases.  I skipped the last one.  I’m short and I don’t have much of a waist, so skipping a decrease made perfect sense for my fit.  I made 3 rounds of decreases and 3 rounds of increases.

Second, I did the bottom ribbing and the sleeve ribbing bind off using Jenny’s Amazingly Stretchy Bind off.  I thought it needed to be really stretchy, and after washing and blocking it is indeed stretchy!  Maybe this was overkill.  I probably could have used just a normal bind off.

Third, my sleeves are shorter than the pattern states which I did by knitting fewer ribbing rows.  I have short arms.

Fourth, and importantly, I knit my sleeves FLAT instead of in the round as the pattern states.  She goes to great lengths to explain how to do this stitch pattern in the round, which is very fiddly and annoying.  Why bother?  Just knit them flat with an extra stitch either side for seam allowance and spend 10 minutes sewing them up at the end.  Simple!  No worry about gauge or anything.  When I got to the cuffs, I did knit them in the round.

sleeve seam

Fifth,  I made a small ribbing neckline instead of the stockinette stitch in the pattern.

And finally, also importantly, I knit the neck ribbing and the front bands ribbing on needles TWO SIZES smaller than called for.  I read on Ravelry that a lot of people found the bands floppy.  Simple solution.  Use smaller needles.  Actually, every sweater I’ve ever knit that has ribbed bands calls for smaller needles for this part of the knitting.  I don’t know why Joji choose to use the same size.  Mine turned out great.  Oh, and I also made 3 stitch button holes because my buttons were kind of big.  Perfect.

I’m super happy with how this turned out.  It fits perfectly and I’m sure to wear it all the time.  I’m tempted to make another one!

Sweater ONE

Today, the last day of January and the last day of this “blog post a day” schedule, I’m announcing a new sweater design – Sweater ONE.  Sweater ONE is a very easy, basic, perfect first sweater for a new knitter.  It is knit in worsted weight, in pieces and is sewn together.  There is almost no shaping which makes the knitting even easier.  There are ribbing patterns in strategic places to make the sweater less boxy and more modern.

The above is a part of the sleeve I’m knitting.  The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Worsted.  Andy is going to make a sample sweater in Cascade 220 Superwash in a size to fit himself.  The pattern is written for 8 sizes from blocked sweater size 35, 38, 41, 44, 48, 52, 56, 60 inches (89, 97, 104, 112, 122, 132, 142, 152 cm).

As soon as the 2 sample sweaters are finished I will be searching for test knitters.  I hope that I can find as many and as wonderful test knitters as I have for Mandy’s Heart.  They have been so helpful!  Since this sweater is designed for the first time sweater knitter, I’d love to find test knitters who have never knit a sweater before or only 1 sweater before.  It’s not so easy for me to judge the difficulty of patterns since I’ve been knitting so long and have managed to knit from any kind of pattern you want to throw at me.

So, stay tuned for more information about Sweater ONE.  I’m hoping to get test knitters working before April.

Almost Ready

This is the first page of my new sweater pattern, Mandy’s Heart.  Just a few final reviews and it will be ready to lease into the wild.  Pretty exciting!

Unfortunately, I had to be my own model.  I’m not happy about that.  It’s not ideal.  But I’m cheap and I was available.  For now I will have to do.

My test knitters are in the final push to finishing their sweaters.  I have 8 test knitters working diligently and I will be eternally grateful to them for their willingness to take on this task.

Launch date is set for 14 February.  The sweater is named Mandy’s Heart for my niece Mandy and Valentine’s Day seemed the perfect date to release a pattern with cabled hearts running down the front and sleeve.  The pattern will be available on Ravelry, and if I can get things set up in time, here on this blog.

First FO of 2013

Today I finished the pink version of Mandy’s Heart.  Here are some photos of the seams.  I’m really happy with how the pattern stitches match up in the seams.  This version is made with O-Wool, 50% wool, 50% cotton.  It does feel much different from the 100% wool version.

Here’s a photo of the sleeve being sewn in, first at the beginning of the seam, then later towards the top where the sleeve bind offs begin.

I like to sew in sleeves starting at the bottom, working up to the top of the sleeve.  Then I start again at the bottom and sew up the other side, meeting at the top.  I find it easier to sew in the same direction as the knitting.

Here’s the finished sleeve seam.

The next job for me and this sweater pattern is to organize a photo shoot with my models.  It’s going to be interesting trying to line up their time, my time, and the weather.  I’m hoping that next Saturday the planets will align and I can get photos taken.

I’m really thrilled that this is all on schedule.  I plan to release the pattern on February 14.  My test knitters are working steadily.  The pattern layout is coming along too, after fighting with software and finally settling on a format I can work with, looks nice and I think will be very user friendly.  Exciting stuff!

Stay tuned for more info on the matching socks.  I’m half finished with the first sock already.  I do have to be careful of my shoulder though.  After yesterday’s massage, complete with elbow in the shoulder work, my back is pretty sore.  I’m only doing some sewing today and very very little knitting.  Stupid shoulder.