Klaralund

Wearability Wednesday is an occasional feature on this blog, in which I re-visit something I’ve knit in the past and discuss it from a wearability standpoint.  Do I still wear it?  Why?  Or why not?  Has it held up to time?  How do I style it?  Today’s post goes back to a pullover which I knit eight years ago, in the spring of 2006.  Unfortunately,  I can only find one photograph of it from that time, so please ignore the bewildered expression on my face and the washed-out colours (this was before we moved to a digital camera, so we were unable to take 40 photos to get one good shot):

2255927184_47bf365b98_zThis is the Klaralund sweater, designed by Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton for Noro. It is knit in Noro Silk Garden.  The above photo was taken in October of 2006, shortly after we moved to England.  Here I am wearing it, eight years later and twenty pounds (egads!) heavier:

1-IMG_9670I have documented elsewhere on this blog my troubles with a repetitive stress injury (deQuervaine’s tenosynovitis) that led to me being unable to knit for more than a decade.  This was the second sweater I made after I was able to take up knitting again.  I wore this sweater to death!  For the first few years after I knit it, it was the go-to item in my wardrobe.  Jeans, check!  Klaralund, check!  Ready to go.  Why did I wear it so much?  I liked to wear hand-knit sweaters and I had very few to choose from at the time.  I loved the colours.  It was easy, un-fussy, but pretty.

At some point, however, I stopped wearing it.  Until Doug took these photos a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had it on in years.  Why did I stop wearing it?  First of all, I think I had worn it so often that I had become bored with it.  Second, as the years went on and I knit more and more, I had a growing pile of hand knits to wear, so it had some competition.  More importantly, however:  this sweater is shapeless.  It is four rectangles sewn together.  There is no shaping whatsoever.  The combination of dropped shoulders and no waist shaping means that it is baggy and shapeless.

2-IMG_9665There is nothing particularly wrong with shapeless sweaters.  In fact, over-sized sweaters without waist shaping and with dropped shoulders are right in style now.  The past few years, however, has had me knitting a succession of shapely, curvy sweaters for me and the girls (for example, Livvy for me, Venetian Audrey for Emma and Peloponnese for Leah).  Compared with them, my Klaralund felt sloppy.  Another reason may also have to do with ego – it is nice to wear a hand knit sweater that shows off your expertise.  Klaralund can be made by a total beginner.

Now that I’ve put it back on though, I think I might resurrect it.  It is still comfortable and easy.  The colours are still bright and interesting.  It has even held its shape (in a shapeless kind of way).  I can still fit into it, despite the extra weight!  Furthermore, it brought back a bit of nostalgia.  I knit this before Ravelry existed.  When I was considering making this sweater, I put ‘Klaralund’ into a search engine and discovered that other knitters were doing the same – this was how I discovered knitting blogs for the first time.  For me, this sweater marks the beginning of the internet in my knitting life.  Who could have guessed that the internet would have so totally changed the knitting community and the way I think about knitting?

So, perhaps the next time I go walk by the river on a windy day or sip my morning coffee in the back garden, I may just pull Klaralund out of the closet.

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Pattern Radar – August 2014

Let’s look at the facts: (1) I have no new knitting to show you, and (2) I really, really should be writing a paper for business school right this minute.  What does this mean?  Well, in the procrastinator’s universe it means that it is time to bring you a new Pattern Radar post!  This is where I show you which patterns have caught my eye over the past month or two.

Linda Marveng has been getting lots of notice in knitting circles lately.  This popped up on my screen just this week:

© Eivind Røhne

© Eivind Røhne

This is the Cable Round Sweater.  The  cables are framed by rib which gives it more shape than a traditional cabled garment, and the cowl is a separate piece which adds flexibility.  It is one of four beautiful sweaters that Linda designed for the September edition of Made by Me, a Norwegian-language knitting magazine.  The other three are much more tailored and striking, but this one appeals to me.   If you don’t read Norwegian, don’t fret; she will release the English-language patterns in the Fall.

Alexis Winslow has a new book out called Graphic Knits.  I love the Laszlo Cardigan (Ravelry link is here):

© Joe Hancock

© Joe Hancock

I love the bold lines, the graphic pop of black-on-white, and the slightly-oversized coziness of it.  I’m particularly fond of the sleeves – those long rows of buttons on rib really grabbed my attention.

A number of years ago, I took a course from Shirley Paden on Sweater Design (at Knit Nation in London).  It was a small class, with only a handful of students.  One of them was Signe Strømgaard who designs beautiful garments for children.  Check out Signe’s work at Strik til Banditter  – the designs are amazing; she is doing some of the most creative work in children’s design right now. I really love this new pattern:

© Signe Strømgaard

© Signe Strømgaard

This is called Sesse and I think it’s pretty much perfect.  Signe has this pattern, along with 10 others, available in English in an e-book which can be purchased on the Ravelry link here.

Jasna Kaludjerovic is a new-to-me designer, who really grabbed my attention this month with this number:

© Jasmin Knits

© Jasmin Knits

This is the Lilynet dress and matching hat.  I absolutely love this retro 60s/70s look.  In fact, this dress reminds me very much of a dress my mother knit in the 1960s which I reported on in this blog post.  I will definitely be keeping my eye on Jana’s designs.

As you may know, I always keep my eye out for great menswear patterns.  The latest one to capture my attention is Tilt, by Lisa Richardson.  I love Lisa’s work (though we shall not mention the Richardson-designed wrap-that-never-ends that has been on my needles for a year now).

© Rowan Yarns, 2014

© Rowan Yarns, 2014

I love that the incredibly rich colourwork is made by knitting fairisle with just two different yarns, one of them variegated; thus it looks more complicated than it actually is.  Doug really likes this one, too, so it has definitely made its way into my queue.

I absolutely should not be looking at patterns for endless long wraps with tons of intricate colourwork (see above reference to unmentionable wrap).  I cannot deny being very attracted to this one however:

© Marie Wallin, 2014

© Marie Wallin, 2014

The photo is atmospheric and only gives a hint of the fabulousness of this Mint Wrap, designed by Marie Wallin and published by Rowan in Windswept: Collection One.  Repeat after me:  I will resist; I will resist.

However, I may be unable to resist another Marie Wallin pattern, Parsley,  from the same publication:

© Marie Wallin, 2014

© Marie Wallin, 2014

Again, the photo is a bit dark and atmospheric and doesn’t capture all of the colour and beauty of this design.  I absolutely adore the contrast of the fairisle patterned bands with the plaid bands, and the unusual, almost jarring, colour choices.  Love, love, love!

I have a particular fondness for garments, but sometimes accessories catch my eye.  I love this cowl pattern, Fusuma, designed by Kirsten Johnstone:

© Kirsten Johnstone

© Kirsten Johnstone

Kirsten was inspired by Japanese sliding screens and I think she nailed it.  I love the spare, stark lines.

Akebia is sweet:

© Twist Collective

© Twist Collective

I love Kate Gilbert’s designs, and this one, from the Twist Collective, hits all of the right buttons for me.  It is charming and looks so wearable – I can really see myself  wearing this one everywhere.  And that little peek of vibrant colour at the hems gives it just enough of an edge to keep it from being too sweet, if you know what I mean.

And to end with a bit of fun, here is Big Red:

© Rowan Yarns, 2014

© Rowan Yarns, 2014

This super chunky cardigan is designed by Josh Bennett for his Rowan Designer Collection: What do you become at night?  The collection is based on a Little Red Riding Hood theme, heavy on the wolf motif.  This is knit with Rowan Cocoon held double, which rules it out for me: if I were to wear it I’d end up like the witch in Hansel and Gretel instead (roasted, that is).  I love Josh Bennett, who is equally at ease designing classics and over-the-top pieces, and clearly has a sense of fun.

That’s it for Pattern Radar!  Even the best procrastination must come to an end.

Why I Knit

Sometimes it all comes together just right.  The magical combination of pattern and yarn.  A fabulous fit.  This is why I knit.10-IMG_9778

The only thing better than creating a beautiful knit garment is wearing one.  This is my daughter Leah, modelling the cardigan I knit for her.  Anyone who knows Leah, would know that this sweater just screams LEAH.  It is made for her (both literally and figuratively).

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Regular readers will know that I was racing to finish this before Leah flew off to Canada for her second year at university.  I had a marathon finishing session, knitting the button bands in the middle of the night.  I dropped it into the wash basin just 48 hours before her plane left, worrying all along that it wouldn’t dry in time (or worse, that we wouldn’t be able to photograph it before she left).  Here is a very exhausted but happy mom:

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The cardigan was designed by Sandi Rosner for the Twist Collective.  It is called Peloponnese.  I knew the instant I saw it that I would knit it for Leah.  Astonishingly, although the pattern was released over a year ago, there is only one other project up on Ravelry.  Knitters, you are truly missing out here!  Knit this – you won’t be sorry.

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The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Composition Book Grey and Candlewick.  This won’t be my last project with either colour; the Candlewick especially.  It is absolutely radiant – it glows in the sunshine and looks like burnished gold in low light.

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I made a number of modifications from the pattern, which I will outline here.  Those of you who are only interested in the pretty, and not in the boring technical details (surely, no one falls into that category!), could easily skim through the next few paragraphs.  Here is the pattern photo for comparison’s sake.

peloponnese_z_500_medium2

Modifications:

1. Long sleeves.  I think a long-sleeved cardigan is more useful.  I was knitting the second size, so I cast on the sleeves as if for the first size (because the wrist is narrower than the forearm) and then increased at 2″, 4″, 6″ and 8″ and then every inch until the desired 72 stitches, and then continued until the sleeve length was right.  (This is always a bit tricky with a yoked sweater; I made Leah try it on so many times and measured it ad nauseum.  In the end, it was perfect.)

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2. The pattern calls for the mosaic portions of the cardigan (around the yoke) to be knit with a larger needle than the stockinette portions.  I used a US number 5 needle for everything – all of the body, the edgings and the yoke.  I liked the way it looked.  Also, I have knit many times using mosaic pattern stitches and knew that my stitches would not be unduly pulled in – I am pretty good at keeping an even tension in mosaic.

3. Alterations to the yoke.  You can see in the pattern photo that there are six rings of mosaics in the yoke (in addition to the edging, which is in garter stitch).  If you look carefully, you can see that this is actually three repeats of the pattern.  Sandi Rosner has written a beautiful pattern, and the way the yoke is designed is brilliant.  I especially like the way the decreases are worked into the yoke.  However, I encountered some fit problems here and had to improvise on the pattern.

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The pattern calls for a decrease row after each pattern repeat.  After I had worked five rows of mosaics (thus two and a half pattern repeats and two yoke decrease rows), I had Leah try it on and realized that (1) the cardigan was stretched too tightly around her shoulders, and (2) the yoke would not be long enough if I followed the pattern exactly.  Before continuing, I would like to stress two points.  First, this is by no means a problem with the pattern.  Recall point 2 above – I did not go up a needle size when I began the mosaic portion – thus it is not surprising that I had a few fit issues.  Second, and more important, is that ALL patterns are written to standard sizes.  The whole point of hand-knitting a garment is to knit it to fit.  You should never just knit blindly to the pattern measurement.  If the pattern says to knit the sleeves to 19″ for a size 38, and you are a size 38 but have extra long arms, it would be crazy to knit the sleeves to fit the pattern rather than to fit your body.

To fix this, I ripped back to before the second yoke decreases and knit another half-repeat before decreasing.  Thus, Leah’s sweater has 7 rows of mosaic (3.5 repeats) with yoke decreases after the second, fifth and seventh rows of mosaics.  This means that the decreases are made in the contrast colour (the Candlewick) the second time.

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4. The buttonbands.  Unblocked, the fit on this cardigan was tight.  I was worried about getting a good fit, but didn’t want to do a hard block on the pattern.  I decided instead to add a bit more give by adding 4 rows of garter stich in the main colour to the beginning of the button bands.  This adds two garter ridges in grey between the yoke pattern and the buttonband edging.  This gave me just enough extra “give” so that the fit is perfect.  And, I think it looks fabulous.  I really like the effect; I think it makes the yoke pattern “pop” even better.

We really went right to the wire with this project.  It was 3pm on Saturday by the time I finished blocking it; Leah and I then hopped in the car and raced out to find buttons.  I had wanted to find yellow buttons, but they weren’t to be had.  Leah insisted these small grey metal ones would be just right, and she nailed it.

01-IMG_9726The weather has been pretty miserable this Bank Holiday weekend, but the rain held off just enough that I was able to unpin the cardigan and put it outside for a few hours on Sunday afternoon, enough to ensure the back was dry.  (You can see I was also busy washing several of Leah’s other hand knitted garments – and one of Emma’s as well; aren’t my girls lucky?)

1-IMG_9703Then, I had just enough time to weave in some ends and sew on 11 buttons (yes, 11 buttons!) before the light failed.  The weather cooperated and a photo-shoot ensued:

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This pattern is beautifully written and detailed.  The cardigan looks so intricate and complicated but is quite simple to knit (the mosaic pattern means that you never knit with more than one colour on any row).  I love all of the little details that make the pattern special; for example, the edging done in the mosaic pattern but in garter stitch instead of stockinette.  This looks so classy!

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And this, Dear Readers, is why I knit!

 

Sneak preview

Leah is leaving in three days to go back to university in Canada.   This means that I am under pressure to finish knitting her cardigan before she leaves.  Since it needs to be blocked, I really need to finish it today.  Yikes!  I am getting close, however, and have decided to give you a sneak preview:

3-IMG_9629For those of you who haven’t been following, this is the Peloponnese cardigan, designed by Sandi Rosner for Twist Collective.  It is knit with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in Composition Book Grey and Candlewick.  I still need to do both buttonbands and all of the finishing.  Oh, and I must go button-shopping as well!  Wish me luck!

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Abracadabra!

In the beginning, you knit back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.  It is fairly boring.  After a while, you have….a rectangle!

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Then you knit around and round and round and round.  It is even more boring.  And then you have……two tubes!

1-IMG_9623This is followed by an hour or so of intense concentration, in which the tubes are incorporated into the rectangle.  No matter how many times you’ve done it, you have a momentary brain freeze in which you are convinced you’ve done it wrong.   Bizarre shapes which contort your needles make for a few difficult rows:

4-IMG_9608Suddenly – Abracadabra! – a sweater emerges from the chaos:

3-IMG_9614It never fails to make me happy: the magic of knitting!

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And you call yourself a knit blogger?

I have been writing this blog for nearly three years now.  And yes, for better or worse, it is mostly about knitting.   I think that probably qualifies me as a knit blogger.  However, I can’t help but notice that I seem to have committed three of the cardinal sins of knit blogging.

No socks.

I don’t knit socks.   I don’t know why I don’t knit socks.  It’s not like I have a policy against knitting socks.  In fact, I have many of the qualities that should make me a natural at knitting socks, namely:

  1. I have feet.
  2. My feet are always cold.
  3. I knit.
  4. I hate commercially made socks.

Given this, you think I’d be churning out socks by the hundreds!  I even went to a three-day sock knitting workshop taught by the amazing Cookie A!  What did I get out of it?  Not socks.  Don’t get me wrong – I see many gorgeous sock patterns, and even more gorgeous sock yarn.  When push comes to shove, however (referring to that magical moment when inspiration strikes and I cast on something new), it is never socks.

No pets.

It seems as if it is rather de rigueur these days to post photos of one’s knitting draped by cat.  In fact, membership in the Sacred Order of Cat Owners (known by cats as the Sacred Order of Cat Slaves) is pretty much a requirement for a knitter these days, much less one who purports to blog about it.  And if a knit blogger, by some bizarre accident of fate, does not have a cat, well then she is sure to have a dog.  Or both.  Or several.

It’s not that I have anything against cats.  Or dogs.  I love them.  Most especially when they are OTHER PEOPLE’S cats and dogs.  Yes, those are the kinds I like best.  (OK, I have admitted it – please do not throw me out of the knit blogging club!  I love it here.  Really I do.  And karma might still come back to bite me – Doug keeps talking about getting a parrot or maybe an iguana.)

No Facebook.

I am not on Facebook.  I have never been on Facebook.  I have no interest in Facebook.  Yes, everyone I know is on Facebook.  In fact, over a billion people are on Facebook.  A billion people!   And while I am confessing – I am also not on Twitter (I’m still not exactly sure what it is), and I still don’t know how to use my smart phone.  Of course, I do write a blog after all, and I do use email enough to curse it daily, so I am not exactly a relic from the prehistoric era (girls, if you are reading this, please stop laughing!).

I am told that more people would read my blog if I were on Facebook.  This is probably true.  But one must be careful; this is indeed a slippery slope.  If I were to join Facebook, where would that lead?  The next thing you know, I’d be posing with a Siamese cat.  And warm feet.

 

 

Zipping along

Despite not having much time to blog, I have managed to do quite a bit of knitting the past month.  I finished a skirt for Emma (hopefully to be blogged soon) and am zipping along on a cardigan for Leah.

3-IMG_9565This photo shows my progress at two weeks:  I have knit about 11″ of the body (which is knit in one piece, so that represents the back and both fronts – a good portion of the sweater).  Here you can see the piece unfolded:

1-IMG_9572The little stitch markers, by the way, indicate increase and decrease rows (in this case, the decrease rows are marked with green and the increase rows are marked with orange).  I always mark my increases and decreases this way; it means I don’t have to bother writing everything down while I am knitting, especially when I am deviating from the pattern.  I can note it all down at the end, before washing and blocking when I take out the markers.  This also makes it very easy to duplicate the shapings on a matching piece – a second sleeve, for example.  (For those curious readers who are wondering about the sweater I am wearing in the above photo, please stay tuned for my next Wearability Wednesday post.)

As you can see from the top photo, I am also making very fast progress on a sleeve, which I started yesterday.  I have often bemoaned knitting sleeves on this blog – in fact I once wrote a post entitled Do you love your husband enough to knit the sleeves?.  I find them to be endless and fiddly and annoying.  If this sleeve is any indication, however, I should be ready to start the yoke by the weekend.

I can’t wait to get to the yoke because that is the fun part of the pattern.  The cardigan is designed by Sandi Rosner and called Peloponnese.  It can be found in the Winter 2013 Twist Collection.  Here is a pattern photo:

peloponnese_z_500_medium2This is my first time knitting with Madelinetosh Merino DK.  It is a very soft wool, with beautiful drape, and the colours are very rich.  It is, however, a bit splitty and I worry that it may pill.  I chose it for two reasons: first because I have long wanted to knit with these two colours – Composition Book Grey and Candlewick (even though it never occurred to me to put them together until I started thinking about this sweater).  Secondly, Leah has trouble with itchy wools so I need to be very careful when selecting for her.  I’ve knit for her before with Madelinetosh Pashmina to great success. This wool will definitely win points on the softness front.

For some reason, I imagined that Peloponesse would be a slower knit.  In fact, it is practically jumping off my needles.  At this rate, I may just manage my goal of finishing it before Leah returns to Canada later this month.

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