I had brunch with my best friend over the weekend.  It had been a while since I’d seen her, and it made me sooooo happy to catch up. 

There are a boatload of reasons I couldn’t live without Lish.  She’s an amazing person.  Although we both live in California these days, we met far, far away in a land called New Jersey.  We both come from tiny towns in the same Midwestern state, although our paths didn’t cross until we were knee-deep in all things Jersey – back when we were wild-and-crazy twentysomethings. 

Familiar, anyone?

Familiar, anyone?

Both thoroughly white-bread and corn-fed at the time, with pale skin that could blind you in winter and (arguably more importantly) not much experience yet in the way of street smarts, we stuck out *just* a tad amongst the been-around-the-block-a-few-times Italian-American brew that is Northeastern NJ.  Our specialty was dancing in bars that weren’t actually set up for dancing, as well as harassing DJs until they would play “Sweet Caroline” for us (so good! so good!) and hurling ourselves toward the stage when local cover bands struck our fancy.

Since then we’ve taken our show on the road to any state, country, or continent that will let us in.  Our passports have taken a nice beating together, and it’s fair to say we’ve gained a fair bit of worldly wisdom (some days this is debatable).  One jet-set long-weekend trip took us to Portugal – my recollection includes a very sweaty hike up to the top of a Moorish castle and some guy named Paolo? Marco? Marco Paolo? – but that’s a story for another post. 

However (here comes the segue) – Portugal is the place that harbors the location that inspired my new knitting project.

I’ve had this project in my unofficial queue for a while now, but haven’t Ravelried* it yet because I’m kind of making it up as I go along.  I wouldn’t say I’m designing this sweater, really; I’m loosely basing it on a sweater I picked up a few years ago when I was at The End of the World

Ah, yes – good question.  Basically, this is a very, very windy place on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic at the the southwesternmost point in Europe.  Back in the day, before their little boats made it over to the Americas, the Europeans considered this the edge of the world: a horizon of churning water stretched as far as the eye could see, beyond which lurked the abyss.  Whodathunk there were a bunch of people across the pond, eh, guys?  Silly landlubbers.

 Fisherman's Sweaters

Fisherman's Sweaters

Right.  So when you’re at The End of the World, it’s not only a minor tourist attraction with a nice view and a story to go with it, but also an opportunity to freeze your patootie off.  Even on a bright, sunshiny mid-summer day like the one of my visit, it was nippy, with wind gusting in every direction.  I need to find the photo from that trip to properly illustrate this; the one in which I’m still shooting for glamorous with my pose, but all bets are off with my swirling hair captured with all split-ends pointing north – straight up, Paula.

It’s-Not-Really The End of the World was a draw for me as a side trip from the warmer climes of the beach far below mostly because of the “seaworthy sweaters” that my guidebook told me were on offer there.  I envisioned a weather-beaten crinkly-looking Captain Ahab, perched next to his ramshackle lean-to of a vendor stall, balancing on the leg that wasn’t his peg-leg, eyeing me suspiciously, ready for me to barter with him for one of his authentic salty-sea-smelling jumpers.  Of course, these would be hot off the needles; pleasantly-irregular creations that the missus was whipping up for him back down on the boat in his quarters.  Maybe after we shook on the deal for one of his wife’s crafts, he’d mutter “Arrrrrrr” gruffly under his breath as I walked away.  In my last glance back at him before forging ahead to the mighty sea, I might even catch him picking at his teeth (what remained of them) with his steel hook of a hand.

Hmmmm.

authentic

One word: authentic

Ahab turned out to be a Portuguese kid wearing a Yankees T-shirt and outlandishly shiny bling.  The missus was nowhere in sight, but I suspect she may have been kicking her feet up after hitting the “go” button on the industrial-grade knitting machine a few hundred times. 

Even though it was a teensy bit different than I’d imagined, there was still a nice display of sweaters that did indeed look seaworthy.  Machine-made with acrylic or not, these little fellas had led me here – I’d come a long way and was going to have a look.  Plus I was starting to get pretty cold, and they were looking mighty warm.

The Fisherman’s Sweaters weren’t incredibly ornate – just very simple Aran-inspired designs, most with a few cables and big cozy collars or turtlenecks; some with cheesy design patterns, some more plain and to the point, which were the ones I liked best.  Bulky knits, as you’d imagine, and in an array of earthy tones.  True, the cardboard boxes they came out of didn’t foster that handmade feeling, but I still decided I needed to take a sweater home with me (and/or immediately pull it over my wind-whipped mane and shivering blue lips).  I chose one in a heathery sandy color with a short zip at the top to keep out the wind, and proceeded to speedwalk out to the edge of the cliff for a gander before scampering back to the safe haven of the car.

When I bought this sweater, I wasn’t yet a knitter, and frankly, would have been shocked at the time to learn that I’d ever become one (such was my aversion to anything approaching a domestic art).  However, since I’ve picked up the needles, it’s crossed my mind that it would be fun to re-make this sweater with a nicer natural fiber and a few modifications to make it just right.  I’ve seen a host of patterns out there for something similar, but I’m going to give this a go with making my own measurements and building a pattern based on the gauge of the yarn I choose.

Driftwood

Color: Driftwood, 161

And that yarn is:  Rowan Plaid.  Poor Rowan Plaid.  Why discontinued, why?  Not that I’ve made anything from this yarn yet so as to form a strong attachment, but it just seems so well-loved by the knitting community at large.  I’ve had a few Ravelrers message me to ask if I’m willing to sell part or all of my Driftwood colorway, but I’ve had this stashed specifically for my Fisherman’s Sweater since the Rowan Plaid pattern book caught my eye with its chilly-seaside photo spread.  I grabbed the last of this colorway on sale at Jimmy Beans (after a flirtation with and eventual purchase of Sea Kelp for another project) when they were liquidating the last of their Plaid inventory last year.  So sad.  The fact that they were getting rid of it, that is – not the fact that I was lucky enough to snag it before it was gone!

Chilly.  Seaside.

Chilly. Seaside.

Bottom line – my baby’s now on the needles, and I’m lovin’ it.  No good light for a photo of my work yet, but will do this soon.

If it turns out as fabulously as I’m planning for it turn out, I’ll post the pattern for anyone who wants to give it a shot.  Easier to decide if you’re in this category, of course, after you’ve seen the final product.  When I’m finished we’ll decide how the original acrylic prototype – the photo of which I will hold in suspense for now (meaning I haven’t gotten around to taking it yet) – stacks up to my creation.  Here’s hoping this moves along without any tears, other fits of drama, or industrial-grade knitting machines.  Stay tuned, just in case.

 

 
*Oh, ravelried – don’t you just love the verb form?   I’m sure it’s been done before, but I’m now declaring “ravelry” as not only a noun but also a verb, in all its glory:

1rav·el·ry  \ˈra-vəl-rē\ noun —  website community where all the cool knit-kids hang out
2rav·el·ry  \ˈra-vəl-rē\ verb —  to enter the details of a knitting project, pattern, fiber, or accessory on one’s profile on the aforementioned website, so that everyone can see what you’re up to, or plan to possibly be up to in the future

 

Inflected Form(s):

rav·el·ring; rav·el·ried \ˈra-vəl-riŋ, ˈra-vəl-rēd\

 

Related:

rav·el·rer \ˈra-vəl-rər\ noun — one who ravelries

 

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So this puppy’s done!  Why it took me so long, I don’t know, but it’s now raring to go.


The finished product!
from Fitted Knits

Overall, I’m very pleased with it.  I had to resort to an unorthodox work-around to fix a too-long giraffe neck, but it all worked out, and the upside is that now I’ve got a new technique in my bag to share.  Needless to say I could’ve prevented the neck problem if I’d tried on the turtleneck before moving on to the body, but of course I did not do this.  Oops.

Anyway.

I added on about 3″ of body length to cover the long torso (I try to avoid the inadvertent belly-shirt show; you can bet that doesn’t happen on purpose these days!).  Now it hits just where I want it to – comfortably long on its own, nice under a suit.


Front of vest

Back ribbing

Here’s the front view, next to a close-up of the back shaping.  The front and back are the same apart from the early ribbing that starts on the back, well above the waist.  The pattern calls for 1″ of ribbing one row in on each side, but since my back curves in (or butt sticks out, depending on how you look at it) more than the average girl, I did another inch with another row in on both sides.  This turned out nicely, with a bit of extra hug where I needed it.

One of the things I learned while making this sweater was actually the art of trying on the project along the way (although unfortunately I didn’t figure this out until past the turtleneck, but I digress).  Not rocket science – but I’d missed any clear suggestion on how to best accomplish this from any book or blog I’d read, so I discovered that transferring the stitches entirely to a length of scrap yarn is a great way to do this.  Stefanie Japel, the author of Fitted Knits, suggests holding the stitches (between steps in this pattern) on either a stitch holder or scrap yarn.  I’ve always used stitch holders since it seems cleaner and faster to me, but whether it is or not, using the scrap yarn does actually provide a nice opportunity to try on the garment.  The circumference of the neck/bust/waist won’t be constrained by the circular needle (or a mixture of the needle + other stitch holders, as I’d sloppily tried before).  It’s easy to move the stitches off and back on your needle, and it doesn’t take very long.  Use a small crochet hook and get down to business.  Note to self – take the time to try on at different stages.  It’s pretty much as important as knitting a swatch for gauge at the beginning, at least if you want whatever you’re making to fit you properly.

So what do you do when your FO is perfect except for the *teensy* problem of not being long enough from the cast-on edge (for a traditional bottom-up sweater), or, if knit from the top down, the neck is too long or otherwise requires adjustment. Well, I can tell you from previous experience that frogging from the cast-on edge is an entirely different ballgame than your usual oops-I-need-to-tear-back-10-rows-from-where-I’m-working frogging. While I’m at it, frogging = rapidly pulling out knitted stitches, backwards, tugging steadily on the yarn from the place where you’re currently working (removing stitches from left needle).  Apparently the term is so named from the sound “ribb-it, ribb-it” that comes with each rapid pull to unravel the stitches.

Usual frogging: well, if it happens as often for you as it does for me, you get to view it as some kind of cathartic experience, right? Right?? If I didn’t make myself see (or pretend to see) it as a fresh opportunity to get it right the second (or seventh) time, I’d lose my marbles.

Reverse frogging, i.e., unraveling from the cast-on edge: you’re welcome to try it for yourself, if you haven’t already, but attempting to frog work from the cast-on edge just doesn’t work. There’s certainly no “ribb-it” involved, because as much as they look like they might, the stitches don’t melt away like butter with a tug on the yarn as they do moving backwards from mid-bodice of your sweater. Not to say you can’t undo what’s been done, it just requires a little more patience.

In short, if you need to take out stitches from the cast-on edge, your choices are the following:

  1. Attempt the reverse frog: as already warned, this is a slow unraveling process, beginning from the slip knot that started out as the first stitch of the project. I’ve attempted this to unravel about an inch from the bottom of a sweater. Yes, it can be done, but this is likely to be the longest inch of your life – just so you know. It’s amazing how convoluted the route of that little piece of yarn seems in reverse. Unfortunately, even after all that work, it’s not a very clean operation to get your needle back in there to bind off at the length you’re after. When you start unraveling from the beginning, you’ll be tempted to pull and see what happens, and sometimes you’ll end up unraveling up into another row, rather than across. You’re likely to have trouble finding a “lifeline”, or one set of loops on the same row all the way around, from which to continue knitting or just to bind off.
  2. Cut to the chase: this sounds scary, and it is in concept, but it’s actually the cleanest way to do it that I’ve seen. The word cut does indeed mean cut – as in, “Look at me, I’m cutting into my knitting!”. Yes, I too had heart palpitations at this suggestion initially – sacrilege! – but I remembered my previous less-than-graceful attempt at a reverse frog, and decided the cutting method was worth a try. Here is my process, documented with pretty pictures, which worked very well for this project:

How to shorten from the cast-on edge
In this case, I’m removing 1 inch from my too-long turtleneck.


Just a wee bit too long

Step 1: Try on the garment to determine exact measurement of length to be removed.

 

 

 

 


Place marker at 1″
(Note: stitches still unblocked)

Step 2: Mark measurement with a stitch marker (I wouldn’t advise eye-balling this).

 

 

 

 

 

Step 3: Place scissors in position to cut one stitch, ideally on the side or back of garment.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 4: (breathe) Cut. (breathe) It’s OK. Everything’s going to be OK here.

 

 

 

 

 


Tip: use the other end of
the needle to help unravel
once the lifeline is established.

Step 5: With your needle tip at the ready, begin to unravel one of the loose ends, gently. You’ll see first one loop (just hanging out, looking for attention), then another emerge as you’re unraveling. Immediately slide these loops onto your needle. This is your “lifeline”.

 

 

 

 

 

Step 6: Continue sliding on the loops that free up as you unravel all the way around until the entire lifeline is on the needle.

 

 

 

 

 


Halfway around, you may want
to unravel from 2nd loose end

Ready to bind off at new length
(or add new color or design)

If you’re working with a circular needle (as pictured here), once you reach the halfway-around point, you may find it easier to slide the stiches to the opposite end of the needle and begin slipping lifeline stitches on to that end, as unraveled from the second loose end of the original cut. This is 100% optional, but you may find it easier since the remaining loose end will be shorter and therefore quicker to pull out and through the extraneous stitches. If you’re working with straight needles and a seamed garment with front & back sides, you’ll need to first un-seam and then perform this process on each side.

That’s it. Not too complicated, and I’ve documented and illustrated every step right here. The lifeline is a very clean way to jump back into the knitting when you find yourself in need of an alteration when you’re well past being able to consider the traditional frogging solution.


Finished! Corrected neck length after final bind-off

I should note that once I had my lifeline completely on the needle, I did not complete any further knitting, but went immediately into my bind-off final row.  As Annie points out in her “Tricks” post on www.modeknit.com (from which I gained the confidence to try the method she refers to), any kind of unraveling from the cast-on edge is going to result in a slight shift in alignment of about a half-stitch, since the loops that form your lifeline are not actually the same loops that you’d be using to stitch if you were knitting along in real-time. This shift is not distinguishable, practically speaking, if all you’re going to do is bind off (as I did – I can’t tell any difference from normal bind-off).

Where this shift might matter is if you wanted to add on from where you’d cut in (for instance, if you wanted to cut off 2 inches at the bottom of a sweater and add a stripe or ribbing in a different color, or perhaps re-knit those 2 inches with little “V” vents on the sides). In this case, you may be able to see this slight half-stitch shift in alignment at the point where you are joining in with new knitting, but it’s probably not too big of a deal – especially if you really want to make the change/addition you’re after.  Like, say, your 13-year-old step-daughter says she really would prefer the sweater with those little V vents on the sides (meaning she’d prefer not to wear it without them…now you know about my first attempted reverse frogging experience!). Ah, good times – if only I’d known about the “cut to the chase” method then.  This project was Squeezer’s Hoodie Sweatshirt from the Yarn Girl’s Guide to Simple Knits (in the book it’s called “Not Your Standard Issue Sweatshirt”) – highlights and photos of our FO coming soon to a blog near you.


The end of my 3rd and final skein

Wrapping up my diaglogue on my Periwinkle friend here, it took very nearly all 3 skeins of Cascade 220 (color 7810).  I had less than a yard left, but I could have harvested enough from the 1″ cut off of the turtleneck if I’d needed a bit more.  All in all this yielded a satisfying pretty-much-used-it-up feeling with respect to my $21 investment in this project.

As I’ve shared previously, this shade of “periwinkle” is a bit too purple for my definition of periwinkle, which is closer to the color of my blog banner at the top of this page.  Needs just a bit more blue in it, but not so much to spill over into cornflower (although that too, is a lovely color).  Ah, Crayola, thank you for instilling my opinions on these colors so early in the game, and for teaching me what to call them in my grown-up quest for the perfect yarn.

Hmmm.  Now I’m supposed to move on to my Airy Wrap-Around Sweater, but I’m not sure I’m feeling the love on that one just now, even though it’s been cast on and is beckoning to me from the top of the knitting crate next to my nightstand. 

Not sure what I’ll do, but I do know there are a bunch of anxious balls of yarn in storage that are trying to get my attention.  You can bet I’ll keep you posted on this exciting decision.

It’s a sleepy Sunday afternoonish evening, and I’m feeling quite pleased with my lazy day – the first one in a long while.  Oh joy, I spent much time in rounding the bend of the home stretch of the getting-a-little-old-now ribbing to finish my tube vest.  Definitely within reach now – 3 inches left according to the pattern, but I’ll probably do at least another 2-3 extra inches to come within normal waist range on my tall-girl frame.  In any case – I want it to be done approximately now

I actually cast on my airy wrap last weekend, which I said wasn’t going to do yet, but extenuating circumstances called for Plan B: I found myself unable to proceed with my WIP as I had fantasized and was forced to re-assign my captive plane-knitting time to start the new project.  Oh, the tragedy.  Let’s just say I am occasionally 12 years old; in these times my little heart gets all smashed when my (apparently not-so-well-planned) plans get de-railed.  There were tears involved; also an AWOL US 5 circular needle, a poor inventory selection at Michael’s, and then, a rush to the airport.  I think I’d better change the topic in order to avoid post-traumatic stress.  Why yes, I am slightly insane.

Until my fingers can manage to finish the job on the aforementioned belatedly near-completion WIP, I’ll go ahead and update you on another FO from the past year or so.  Today’s happy subject is the Cabled Baby Blanket from Simply Baby, by Debbie Bliss.  The pattern calls for Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK, and although an alluring idea at first (would be so soft and luxurious against my new niece’s skin! expensive? no, it’s an investment, an heirloom!), enough so that I was narrowing down the color palette, I eventually came to my senses.  I read a couple reviews on Yarndex that made me think about the durability (and likelihood to pill), and then I went overboard reading many, many other reviews about others’ baby yarn favorites:

  • Never use acrylic for baby items!  Don’t you know it’s flammable??
  • Never use wool for baby items!  So many babies are allergic!
  • Always use something machine-washable!  Anything that needs hand-washing won’t get used!

The first two I took under advisement, but it was the third one that made me say, “Amen, sister.”  Sure I’d be happy to have the blanket be considered an heirloom, but more than that I’d like it to be used.  Really used.  Like I’d love it if it became the tattered but beloved woobie over time.  My sister had already birthed another child (who missed out on a baby blanket from me altogether since I couldn’t generate anything from a set of knitting needles at the time she was born – uh, sorry, Maiz);  I’d been around enough to see the mountain of baby clothes, baby washclothes, and baby bedding that she was continually churning through the laundry.  Even with one baby on her hip, hand-washing anything was not going to happen, let alone with a baby and a toddler.

I stumbled across lots of proclaimed tried-and-true favorites in my research  – Baby Ull by Dale of Norway was one that got rave reviews from many, but the gauge was a bit too small for the Debbie Bliss blanket.  I settled on Cascade 220 Superwash, which given my recent tendecy to Cascade everything isn’t surprising, but at the time I hadn’t compared the Superwash version to the regular 220 wool.  I ordered it in a brighter pink than the blushing, softy-soft barely pink colors I’d frequently seen in yarn colorways created “especially for baby”.  I figured my niece was going to come out one sassy chica just like her mama, and no wimpy pink was going to cut it.  I was careful, however, not to stray into the hot-pink range, lest she later think I was stuck in the 80s when I picked out her blanket color to match my neon shoelaces from junior high.

I like the detail in the cabling of this blanket – so pretty, and although I think the stitch looks complex, it’s not.  It’s just right to keep the stitching interesting, and you memorize the pattern quickly enough that you just keep chipping away at it while you’re doing other things without the interruption of pattern checks.  The color is Cascade Superwash 836.  I made it several inches longer than recommended because it just didn’t seem long enough for me at 31 1/2″.  I ordered 5 skeins of the 220 (pattern called for 7 skeins of Cashmerino at 137 yards each) and still had plenty left over.

My tension matched the recommended gauge with the US 6 (in the cable pattern, US 5 for the end borders), but before blocking, the cable stitches seemed too tight to me; not enough space to appreciate the stitch definition, and too tight to be drapey and soft.  Not too worry – blocking to the rescue.  I gently washed and rinsed with softener (I’m such a sucker for Downy – in the original April Fresh scent from the good old days with Mom, not these new-fangled Lavender or Linen scents), towel-dried (I like the roll-it-up-in-a-towel-and-walk-on-it method, at least for a sturdier fiber like this), and proceeded to stretch the heck out of it.  I held the corners and edges taut with many impressive-looking (yet unread, at least by me) hardbound ]books and let that puppy slowly air dry for nearly 2 days.  I think it was good and done within a day, but I wanted the blocking to be perfect, so I just didn’t touch it.

I started this project in May, once my sister knew it was going to be another girl; I nabbed the pink yarn, got down to business, and wrapped it up at the end of July before she delivered my lovely niece – E-dot.  Now that E is nearly 9 months old and has a bit more say about which blanket she gets to roll around on (OK, just pretend with me that she does), I’m pretty sure she likes my blanket the best, in comparison to the others in her closet.  I’ve seen the way she drools on it, and I think that speaks for itself.  She knows a nice superwash wool when she sees it.

Whew – taxes are done, and not a minute too soon. Finally blog-posting does not = procrastination.

Today I introduce you to my favorite FO (Finished Object – my goal is define each term when I use it for the first time here) at this stage of my knitting career. It was also the project that’s taken me the longest, but like the title says, it’s a long cardigan.

Let me just say that it took me forever to find just what I wanted for a cardigan, or at least my first cardigan. This is not surprising considering that it often takes me yonks to make a decision.

I’m tall, and part of what I love about knitting is that I can custom-make the length of sleeves (to accommodate my monkey arms) and also the torso.  I have a lot of things in my closet that inconveniently hit just above my waist instead of at or below like they would on anyone else (I can’t help myself when it’s so cute hanging on the rack – I want to buy clothes in stores like other girls!).  In this case, I figured I might as well take the long idea and run with it, just because I could.

I didn’t expect to be so picky (I never do) – I searched high and low before I found what I wanted.  I definitely bookmarked a few favorites that I knew I’d like to make later, including several with more detail – nice cabling or other patterns – but for this one I found myself craving simple lines, a go-to cardigan that achieved “fashionable” as opposed to “frumpy”, as is often the concern with cardigans.  On the other hand, I wanted to actually be able to wear this puppy regularly, like to pull on at work when I’m chilly, so I didn’t want to land at too high-fashion.  If it turned out that noteworthy, people would start saying, “Is it just me, or does she wear that same sweater every day?”.  I needed it to be classic-looking, and easily blendable with the varying color palette of different outfits.

You with me on this?

Before I even began searching for the perfect cardigan pattern, I admit I had my mind already set on the color.  I went to the black end of the spectrum and chose a dark charcoal gray (a.k.a. a shade of black).  Not surprising, if I give you a little history.  Black is a former flame of mine, the kind that still gives me butterflies when I think about those heady days.  My time living in New York and London left me with quite a penchant for wearing all black, all the time, a practice I thoroughly enjoyed and didn’t trouble to deny it.  I’d still be in that camp if it weren’t for:

  1. My family telling me to lighten up already with the black. Enoughget some color in that wardrobe, sister.
  2. Everyone in my new West Coast workplace telling me I was too “East Coast”.  Loosen up, you’re scaring the natives with that look.

No matter what they say, I really like the power suits and French twists that were frequently associated with the all-black attire, but alas, I have attempted to ease up on all accounts.  I really try to save the black for my now infrequent nights out on the town, when I really must be allowed to feel city-fabulous.  I’ve also invested in two pairs of (long length) khaki cords that I occasionally wear on Fridays (impressive, right?); and, I’ve actually gone to job interviews with my hair down (gasp!) instead of tied up into a formal twist.  Hey, it’s progress.

But I digress!  The point is – I do make an effort to pull in more color to my repertoire, and knitting’s a big part of that, so it’s a good thing I’m addicted to it.  True – but actually, the point is this:  although I do make that effort, it didn’t extend to this project.  Right.

I landed on the Patons pattern Long Fitted Cardigan from the SWS pattern book, “The Look”.  It’s kind of an obscure pattern; I don’t know how I Googled my way to it.  I saw the cover picture and knew that was the one, so I picked the pattern booklet up on eBay.  I really liked the long straight lines and no-nonsense yet sexy appeal.  Largely stockinette, but that contributed to my classic, not-too-fussy goal.  I also liked the bling/accessories the model was wearing, so maybe, sadly, I was swayed by that as well.

I chose Dale of Norway (Dalegarn) Free Style as the yarn for this project.  Don’t ask me why, as this was another obscure choice – I think I was being super-conservative with the gauge on substituting exactly, and this was a spot-on match for SWS.  I booted the SWS yarn as suggested for a couple of reasons.  The online reviews seemed positive and it was very affordable, but in the end I was focused on a) not using toocheap a yarn for a project I would spend a lot of time on and hope to wear quite a lot, b) sticking with a superwash wool for the supposed durability (although now that it’s done, I can’t imagine ever putting my baby in the washer).

Plus, it didn’t come in black.  

Although I liked the look of the pattern with the variegated color of several of the SWS colorways, I wanted to avoid ending up with Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat, which on a tall bird like me can be a bit hard to pull off.

That said – VERY straightforward pattern and piecing.  I liked the yarn surprisingly well, and although I’ve been wearing it frequently for well over a year now, it’s held up very well (few pills of course, but a couple of sweater shavings have kept it in good condition).  I avoided selecting too soft of a yarn in order to achieve this durability, and I’m pleased with the results.  It’s wonderfully warm, as wool tends to be, and holds its shape quite well.  It’s a tad scratchy, but I’m always wearing something under it.  Call me crazy, but I like the tiny amount of scratchy – feels suitably authentic in the way a wooly jumper should.  I know…I’m weird.

Overall, I’m delighted with what my little hands turned out.  I’ve kept the pattern readily accessible (as opposed to lost amongst my mostly scattered and unorganized other patterns and books and yarn and needles – save me, Ravelry) in case I get a wild hair to make one in the future of the Technicolor Dreamcoat variety.

Kidding. 

If I make another one, it’ll definitely be in another shade of black.  ;)

 

So this is my current WIP (Work In Progress – I’m thinking I’ll go ahead and define the acronyms the first time I use them, since as a newbie I was lost). 

When I found Stefanie Japel’s Fitted Knits, her approach really clicked with me.  Smart!  Tweak your work to fit perfectly.  Not that you couldn’t mess around with it based on your own intuition and come up with a better fit, but this book makes you want to put significant thought into it ahead of time and get it right. Why wouldn’t you want to do this if you’re investing so much time (and money) in a project? 

Speaking of investing money, Stephanie established a lot of credibility with me by including reasonably-priced (yet still high-quality) yarn suggestions throughout the book.  If you’re feeling blingy you could always trade up to fancier fibers, but isn’t it nice to have a designer be down-to-earth enough to acknowledge her designs will work up nicely in a broad range of yarns?

I’m working on the Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest (you’ll find an overview of the pattern and a nice write-up of the book here on Volkstricken). 

I like it.  The swooping line down the side from the neck down around the outside of the bodice has a very clean but sexy look.  Simple enough to wear under a suit jacket for work; kicky enough on its own to be a fun summer top.  I’m a big fan of turtlenecks.  I guess I just like the look. Even when it’s a sleeveless design (I have a few of these), it’s handy for layering – when it’s warm out, you’re cool enough with bare arms, but when the sun goes down a cardigan layer fits the bill.

This is the first top-down project I’ve done.  Very cool.  I like the idea of knitting it all in one piece.  I’ve gotten used to the idea of stitching seams (at first I didn’t realize that knitting almost always involved a bit of sewing) and I don’t have a problem with seams comfort-wise, but maybe I’ll get hooked.

I won’t lie to you – this pattern jumped out at me in large part because of the Periwinkle.  I’m a periwinkle freak.  I’m on a conquest to find the perfect shade, as I define it.  There’s a lot of controversy over what actually constitutes periwinkle.  I tend to consider Crayola the last word, but I haven’t actually gone back to check to see if my memory serves me correctly.  I’m kind of afraid to, since I’m very much enamored with the shade I have in mind (and I don’t know if I could allow my faith in Crayola to be tarnished over a misunderstanding here).

I have a suit jacket that I bought at Nordstrom years ago (gosh, that makes me sound really old) when I started my first verybusyandimportant job.  I have come to think of this jacket as the perfect shade of periwinkle, and will stop at nothing to find it in cozy lovely yarn.  I like to buy my yarn over the internet (which, by the way, it took me a long time to start doing), and sometimes I’m too impatient to get a colorcard, if one is even available, so after a lot of deliberation I usually just order it up and hope for the best.  I justify this because I know even if it’s even close I’ll like the color for some project or another.  Or maybe just for me to gaze at lovingly as a new entry to my blossoming stash.

I started with Baby Alpaca Brush in color 1620 (Baby Blue).  It looked a lot more periwinkle in one of the online pictures than it actually was, but what the heck – who doesn’t love baby blue?  (Note to self: if color is called Baby Blue, it might actually be baby blue).  I made a wonderfully soft sweater from the Yarn Girl’s Guide to Simple Knits and was very proud of my first true I’ve-cut-my-teeth-with-knitting genuine item of clothing.

Then I went with Morehouse Merino Farm’s bulky in Periwinkle.  Great yarn, really lovely.  I made a decadent sweater (Rowan’s Charity), but the color had a little too much purple to be my perfect periwinkle.

I’m not convinced yet that Cascade 220 can scratch my periwinkle itch – we’ll see.  I tried pretty darn hard to find a way to order a complete color card, and although there were a couple of recommendations I found online to track down the surprisingly obscure item, none of them seemed like it was any longer a viable option.  Weird.  After a while I cut myself off from looking; I was burning a lot of time (as I tend to do) in making a decision on what color to buy among the several candidates from Cascade that looked close.

After all that – for the Turtleneck Tube Vest project, I settled on Cascade 220 shade 7809 as suggested. It was called “periwinkle” by Fitted Knits, but I suspected would be on the purple-y side of my periwinkle. 7809 was labeled as “violet” or “light violet” by some vendors, and another called it “blue-violet”.    In any case it looked fantastic in the book (on the model anyway) so I just rolled the dice.

Indeed, it is on the purple side of periwinkle for me, but I really like it none the less.  I have to admit Cascade 220 is becoming a bit of a go-to yarn for me (I’m in good company).  I used the Superwash for the first time to make the Debbie Bliss Cable Baby Blanket in Cascade 220 color 836 (which was just the perfect not-too-pale but not-too-obnoxious pink I was looking for) and liked the texture and feel a lot for a new wool.  I also got into the Heathers collection with color 2449, which I used to make the quickie “weekend” tank top in my Yarn Girl’s book.  Good stuff, that Cascade.

Alas…the search for the perfect periwinkle continues, but I can’t say I’m not enjoying the journey.

Cara, that is.  I’m in a groovy kind of mood this afternoon, and I feel like waving my 80s flag around a bit.  I’ve decided that today’s topic is going to be (cue the Flashdance music):

Leg warmers.  Sing it to me, sister.

When I saw the pattern in Last-Minute Knitted Gifts, I felt the inevitable tug of bygone days: my bare feet dancing around on shag carpet with our “Thriller” album cranked up, my off-the-shoulder sweatshirt unraveling where I’d ripped off the arms, and my smokin’ hot leg warmers inking the deal.

It’s true that these really don’t even require a pattern, and in fact I didn’t buy the pattern (sorry, Joelle), but rather took the inspiration and ran: home to my leftover yarn from a previous project – Cascade 220 Heathers, in a nice shade of pink.  I dug the idea of adding some mohair as the pattern recommended, and added a darker maroon color that I’d snagged just one ball of during a major closeout at Webs.  Voila!

I’m off to a slow start in establishing credibility here with my knit-ability, but I’m easing myself into blogland here.  I am looking forward to getting my collection of happy projects out here to show you (and in time we may be close enough for me to share some of my flops).

Anyway, the leg warmers are completely freakin’ awesome.  I don’t care if they’re not back in as big of a way as they were before (although I’ve seen many a tween sporting a pair these days).  I wasn’t exactly pining for them, until I was seduced by the pretty photo.  In any case – why not indulge?  It’s so much fun.  I like them with leggings and ballet flats, or just to wear around the house (so warm! wool is so good at being warm).  I want to strut my stuff wearing them with a denim mini, but I need to wait until a) winter decides it’s done, and b) 10 pounds decide to drop off of my thighs.

Will report back to base with a photo if I do make it to the catwalk of downtown in the aforementioned mini.