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I was recently asked whether I had ever finished the sweater I was knitting out of Cambridge’s fleece.

I thought I had posted these photos! The Kingscot cardigan is finished!

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Here it is, on a “photo shoot” with the ewe herself. I love this photo not only because it’s kind of cool that I’m holding the sheep that gave me the beautiful fleece, but because of the onlookers in the background. Makes me laugh every time!

I saw Cambridge recently, and she is very busy growing my next fleece. You can already see, I think from above, but it’s looking a bit lighter in color. She is just CRANKING out the fleece, after a bit of a tough start I’m guessing because of the harsh winter, and I would not be surprised if her fleece was close to 10 pounds. (…of platinum to grey and GORGEOUS. Can’t wait.)

Yes, hawk-eyed friends, that IS a double pointed needle holding the cardigan shut.

Since then, I purchased some buttons made out of deer antler (as an homage to Lucy’s Great Adventure).

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The sweater is softer than I imagined it could ever be — Cambridge’s fleece has been a big surprise on that front, I must say — and it almost looks shiny because the fibers are so lustrous.

I still have another big batch of her fleece left, which was just washed recently —

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— and I am contemplating what I should be making with this fiber. I’m wondering if I can engineer a zipped vest with pockets that will take the place of the felted merino vest that I wear all the time to walk my dogs….to the drawing board….

IMG_1963As my Adventure’s with June’s Cardigan would attest, I have a tendency to pick a sweater pattern, actually pay for said pattern, and proceed to tinker with the pattern beyond recognition.

That seems to be my modus operandi.

Why? Well, I think all of this is seeded in the fact that I believe that when I knit a sweater, I am creating the fabric AND the garment, so I should be able to make EXACTLY what I am picturing in my mind. It’s very much like cooking. A little of this, a little of that, I have in my mind what I want….and I go about trying to achieve it.

Well with sweaters, this could mean making many calculations. I’m not shy about making these calculations. In fact, sometimes like in cooking, I have a tendency to do this on the fly. Of course the intention as I am starting my bush wacking through a pattern that I’m going to remember my route with a few trail markers. If I’m plowing through a project (think deadline) then my memory is still relatively reliable. Should I put a project down for more than a few days though? UH…..not so much.

Just a bit about the math involved. I don’t have a particularly curvy body to fit. In fact, my body is basically a rectangle (sort of a plumper version of Jackie, who Amy talks about here). I have two pet peeves with sweater patterns. If I knit a stated size to fit my bust, it rarely fits across the shoulders. If I knit a size for my shoulders (note, not many patterns give this measurement!!!) I look like…well, a rectangle covered by knitted fabric. What I normally end up doing is monkeying with the yoke and upper arm/armhole area to make a sweater that is snug enough but not super tight. We won’t mention here that I think the sleeve cap and armhole is the one place on a sweater where calculating a length involves a curve (um, 12th grade math. This is calculus. That was a long time ago.).

I can usually get pretty close, and with a knitted fabric, which is forgiving, this usually is good enough. But I am never confident in sweater patterns, I start getting squirmish and itchy to modify patterns as I near the arm hole shaping, and I feel like each knitted sweater has an element of Hail Mary in it.

Enter Amy Herzog.

IMG_9130I met Amy last March when I attended the Green Mountain Spinnery Spring Retreat (one of my most favorite knitting retreats!) in beautiful Saxtons River, Vermont. She came to the class with 40? 50? sweaters. She came ready to demonstrate what a well fitting sweater, for your body type, could do for the shape of your body. It was fun, it was engaging, and I was full in. So full in that I decided that the sweater I was knitting was completely wrong for me, and I ripped out about 500 yards of knitting. The “new” version of this will hopefully be much better fitted, and much better suited for my body than the colorwork (yes, it was 500 yards of colorwork) body cozy I was knitting for my rectangular torso.

IMG_9132When Amy mentioned then that she was working on developing a software program that would generate patterns fit for your body measurements, given a swatch, my ears prickled. All I could think was, NO MORE SPREADSHEETS.

So, when Amy put the call out for Beta testers a couple of months ago, I raised my hand. I raised my hand VERY high and waved it around all over the place.

IMG_9128IMG_1954And guess what? Tada! A simple, but well fitting sweater in a killer yarn for me to wear every day (or until I can knit more sweaters to go into the rotation). It fits perfectly in the shoulders. The top seam for the sleeve hits exactly at the right place on the shoulder. The armhole is fitted, but not tight. When I swing my arms around, the sweater does not pull anywhere. But it is snug in all the right places, just enough to make my rectangle have some curves.

After all these years, I am conditioned to buy a certain yardage of yarn to make a sweater. The upside of a nicely fitted sweater was that I had plenty of yarn left over (yet another bonus) to knit a cowl. Presto change-o. The v-neck sweater can also play in my wardrobe as a cowl neck sweater.

IMG_1962The cowl is Circumnavigate by Heidi Kirrmaier. As with Heidi’s beautifully simple sweater designs, The cowl has just enough of a knit/purl stitch pattern to be interesting without taking away from the slight variegation I have in the yarn that I used.

As for the yarn…it is JulieSpins Silky DK in fluorite. I asked Julie how she would describe this color…and she says it is a “silver grey with a hint of yellow”. It is a strangely wonderful color. It’s grey but not really. It’s got bits of yellow and blue and in some lights the sweater looks green. Just like fluorite!

Now I’m just waiting for the weather to go my way so I can wear this sweater. Now you want a perfectly fitted sweater too, right? Well, Amy’s CustomFit software is still in beta test. But the software seems to be working, given the amazing finished object photos that are starting to pop up. I’m sure all the elves in the background who make these things work are hard at work. I will refer you to the Fit Diva’s website and link to her newsletter subscription for up to date news on the software!

PS. There are many who are finishing up their second and third sweaters….I, too, have cast on for a CustomFit-ized version of a relatively ambitious sweater in fingering weight cormo. More on this as I make progress!

Hurricane Sandy turned downtown Manhattan into a really surreal place. No power, no cell signal…I was lugging my electronics around and plugging into charge up every time I saw an outlet. I walked dogs in the evening with my headlamp on. It was strange to be able to see stars in the sky. I got off relatively lightly, particularly because I am a wimp and retreated after a day and a half of this to the comforts of my sister’s fully powered up apartment.

Two positive results from Hurricane Sandy. The first was that I was forced to clear out my freezer and refrigerator. Amazing waste of food, but a completely empty freezer for me to fill up (more on this on another post). The second was what I did while I waited for The Frankenstorm to show up.

Waiting for the storm, with two dogs that are super-sensitive to pressure changes was….interesting. I put my (nervous) energy into moving my hands, and cranked on my Pomme de pin Cardigan.

Post storm, it took me a while to truly finish the cardigan — and I had very good intentions. It took me longer for me to knit the button band than it did to knit most of the body of the sweater!

It is, however, the end of the month, which means that I do have to finish things up. And I have finished (and have already worn to work!) the sweater.

Pomme de pin is a cardigan designed by Amy Christoffers. I am attracted to her designs because there seems to be an element of something really cool about her sweaters. With this cardi, I think she’s managed to make a lace sweater really sleek and not grandmotherly at all. I love the way the collar comes up in the back and creates a really long line coming down the front. Do I dare say it? I think it’s SLIMMING!!!!

I knit my sweater out of Blue Sky Alpacas Metalico. The yarn is totally yummy — It’s 50% baby alpaca and 50% mulberry silk. It’s undyed, so all the colors are natural shades of baby alpaca. It’s sport weight, and it’s a single. The very first time I heard about this yarn was on the podcast Ready Set Knit, which is hosted by Kathy and Steve Elkins who owns WEBS. When I heard Steve describe this yarn, I ran to the computer. It just sounded amazing. My sweater is knit in Silver, which is a light grey. The yarn also comes in Platinum, which is an amazing deeper grey (and yes, I have that in my stash). I was a bit worried about how this yarn would knit up as a fabric, and whether it would be appropriate for a garment. I really wasn’t sure whether it had good memory — I knew it wasn’t going to be like wool (which is a super fiber, I’m coming to appreciate!) —  I swatched, and decided that it was a go.

I find that swatching is really useful when it comes to one thing. And it’s not determining gauge. Of course it is somewhat useful for this too, but I find that gauge swatches lie and my gauge changes depending on many different factors so it is just an approximation. What I find it more useful for is in determining (at least a little) how the yarn would act as a fabric.

After swatching, I decided to make a modification (LOL, I know, I know) and I changed all the ribbing to a twisted 1×1 rib. I thought that this would help the sweater keep more structure. Other than this adjustment for the yarn, I made only a few changes, and they were for sizing — I wanted the sleeves shorter, I wanted the sleeves a bit more slim fitting.

I have already worn this sweater to work. I was a bit worried about the sweater shedding a bit because I felt like the yarn was shedding a little as I was knitting, but I wore this sweater over a black dress and black tights and I was fuzz free (trust me, with two dogs I roll myself with one of those sticky rolly things when I get to work!). The lace didn’t completely stretch out, and I didn’t feel like the sweater was dangling at my knees at the end of the day. And this sweater is SUPER warm, while being light.

I have a feeling that this sweater will become a staple in my wardrobe….and that I will be on the look out for more lacy cardis to knit out of the yarn!

Me!

I love light weight sweaters that I can wear all year long. (Hmm. Maybe this is why I love shawls so much) Knitting sweaters out of laceweight? Outside of some periods in my life when I weirdly rationalized that knitting complex cabled sweaters out of laceweight was economical from a yarn $ used/time metric, (logically, it makes sense. But we all know that these projects are very likely to end up in the UFO pile), I haven’t ventured into laceweight sweater crafting in quite some time.

Well. I’ve finished a laceweight sweater. It is out of Wollmeise Lacegarn, so it is a heavy lace (and some may say it’s really fingering), but it is laceweight nonetheless.

The sweater is Laar, by Gudrun Johnston.

I love Gudrun Johnston’s designs because there seems to always be an element of the classic Shetland in her designs. I’ve written about Flukra, which may be the single most worn shawl in my wardrobe (I really need to knit another), and I have been swatching for Audrey In Unst for months now. (OT, but should I knit it in DK or fingering? That is the question.)

I have been staring at Laar for about a year. The one thing that held me back was that I was convinced that this sweater was way too girly for me. It’s got an empire waist, pleats at the waist, picot edging, a lace bodice….all kinds of girly.

But I decided a bit of girly would be good in my wardrobe, but since I am no longer a young girly, I decided to modify it a bit. (OK, maybe a lot.)

  1. Decreased the pleating at the waist. I wasn’t sure if a baby-doll shape would look good on me, so I wanted the sweater to have more of an A-line silhouette. This had one very positive effect of decreasing the amount of stockinette fabric I had to knit.
  2. Increased the garter edging after the picot. I thought that this would take the emphasis off the picots as it became a smaller part of the overall edging. This also let me raise the neckline a bit, and also gave me a bit more stable edging to help the fabric from curling up at the bottom.
  3. Increased the length of the stockinette portion of the sweater. I’ve noticed that Gudrun seems to like cropped sweaters. I have a longer torso, so I wanted to make sure that the sweater came to slightly below my hip bone.
  4. Increased the twisted rib in between the stockinette and the lace portions of the sweater. I just thought this looked better 🙂
  5. Increased the lace panel portion of the sweater in order to make a deeper armhole. I think the style of this sweater was for the sleeves to be very fitted. I do not like being constricted in the underarm area, nor do I like tight sleeves. So while I kept the construction of the short rowed sleeve cap, I made the sleeves a lot more relaxed. I am actually quite picky about this and have a tendency, if I am to rip back a sweater to redo something about it, to make sure the sleeves fit properly.
  6. Picot bind-off on the buttonhole panel. I just thought it was strange that this was the only edge that was showing on the sweater without a picot edging.

I have yet to road test this sweater, but I think I like my new girly addition to my wardrobe!!

It appears that I was well on my way to catching a cold when I posted last, which explains why I seemed completely intrigued by liquids.

Armed with Purled’s chai recipe (folks, it is ridiculously good — the only thing I have done  to it is adding a stick of cinnamon for its warming properties), I have been a busy bee on the knitting front.

It also helps that it’s baseball playoff time, which means hours and hours of potential knitting time while supposedly socializing. I have one such afternoon coming up, and while my guests are armed with beer and hot wings, I will be content with my sweater in my lap.

See. Knitting is also my way of “dieting”. If my hands are busy, and I have gorgeous yarn running through my fingers, do I want wing sauce all over my face and hands? I can just have my share, wash my hands, and knit away as my 100 wing tub magically disappears.

Just in case I drink beer, the sweater I am working on is stockinette in the round. It’s going to be perfect (although I’ve been known to seriously mess up very simple knitting while knitting socially).

Just in time for Rhinebeck, fresh off my needles is Romy by ANKESTRICK. I made sure my sweater was fall-weather ready by knitting it out of Hedgehog Fibres Merino Aran (the old yarn — Beata has a new Merino Aran base out that is now superwash — I haven’t tried that yarn yet) in a great pumpkin-y orange called Rusty Nail. It variegates from yellow to brown, going through almost every shade of orange. It’s got a high neck to ward off the wind, and this is the other sweater which will require some Jennie the Potter buttons to complete.

This sweater almost knit itself. I was really intrigued by the contiguous shoulder method, so that took a bit of reading and ripping out (complete user error. This was the first time I knit an ANKESTRICK pattern and I was not 100% familiar with the set up. Once I “got” it, though, it went swimmingly — the pattern is fantastic), but once I saw what was going on, the knitting flew. The measurements in the pattern are perfectly clear, and this sweater, fitted properly at my shoulders feels like a garment custom made for me (which it was, of course, but fitting a sweater is not always easy). It may be because the sweater was knit at a relatively tight gauge and it is a “slim” fit, but it is feeling less bulky that I thought it may.

I love this sweater, and while it hasn’t been worn in public yet, I am hoping that Rhinebeck weather cooperates.

Eying any new sweater patterns?

 

When it comes to yarn, I’m pretty fickle.

My love for Sanguine Gryphon Gaia Lace has been pretty well documented. I still love it, and happily bring this yarn out of my stash for deserving patterns. In fact, I recently finished the Romi Hill shawl that I wrote about, in Gaia Lace in Owlets, which is a beautiful silver grey. I was a good girl — only modified the pattern slightly by beading the bind off. I have yet to wear this shawl, since the yarn and the beading combination makes this shawl pretty dressy.

My first foray into blogging about knitting was about Wollmeise so my partiality to Claudia’s beautiful colors is also no secret. I am about to cast on a project in Lacegarn, which I will talk about at some point…and I have Cookie A’s Conic on my needles right now in 100% Merino in Ruby Thursday, which is a really pretty red.

I think I may have a new favorite indie dyer. French Market Fibers. Of course, it appears that I have fallen in love with another dyer whose yarn is tough to get. I have two finished objects out of Margaret’s lovely yarn that I wanted to talk about…

First, the secret test knit I wrote about last time. You can see the shawl all crumpled up in the group photo. It’s BooKnits Almost Autumn. It’s a wonderful pattern, slightly different from Bev’s usual designs and it is lace all over. I made mine out of French Market Fibers Mohair Lace in Spanish Moss.  I was a bit of a rogue test knitter (!) and omitted the beads. I wanted this shawl to be ethereal and…well.. look like Spanish Moss. The photo doesn’t quite do justice to the beautiful and subtle colors in the yarn (look really closely — there are hints of pink, green, grey…) The shawl is about to board a transatlantic flight, to be worn by a friend at a wedding, in which she is a guest. I hope I get the shawl back!

The second project is a sweater that I just finished knitting and is currently being blocked. It’s Levenwick by Gudrun Johnston. It was part of Brooklyntweed’s Wool People I, and has been in my queue since it first came out. I made mine out of French Market Fibers Merino Worsted in Wrought Iron. I cannot wait to get this sweater off the blocking boards. I had originally ordered this yarn from Margaret with thoughts of making something else, but as soon as I opened my package, I knew that it would be perfect for this sweater. The body of the sweater is knit in reverse stockinette — which makes the fabric look woven. It’s really perfect for a subtly variegated yarn, I think. The color is sort of purply and grey and black and lovely. I ran out of yarn so I couldn’t make the pocket for this, but I think it keeps the lines simple and very work worthy. I plan on wearing this with a shawl pin to close at the neck until I see Jennie at Rhinebeck so she can make me the perfect buttons for the sweater.

What’s new on your needles, now that the weather is turning a bit more sweater-worthy?