Two gray sweaters, two years apart

Since returning to school, I have (probably unsurprisingly) found that I have a lot less time for knitting. Fortunately, though my output has been low in quantity, I’ve been very happy with (most of, but more on that later) the knitting projects I have found time for these past two years. I realized recently that this blog has gone untouched even longer than my yarn stash has, and so I thought now was as good a time as any to share two finished sweaters. The first I knit my first semester in Pittsburgh, and the second, this past spring. In addition to my awkward sweater modeling, these photos also show signs of rapidly passing time, in the form of hair growth and changes in my living room 😉

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First up: Bellows, designed by Michele Wang. Knit with two strands of Briggs & Little Heritage held together, this jacket-like cardigan has held up remarkably well, and looks the same today as it did the week I finished it. I made the size 43 for lots of positive ease, and this has become a cold weather staple, perfect for layering and burrowing into.

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A few people have mentioned that this cardigan could benefit from some nice hidden side seam pockets, and I agree. But pockets aside, I think this is a really perfect pattern. It’s well-designed, and intuitive to work. The Heritage was a bit rough to work with, but it blocked out into a fabric that’s surprisingly soft given its durability.

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My more recent FO, Jared Flood’s Bray pullover, also came from the Brooklyn Tweed backlog and became a wardrobe staple in the last cold weeks of early spring this year. I knit this in some heathered charcoal gray Cascade 220 that had been languishing in my stash for some time, in a size 41 to leave plenty of positive ease (a theme in most of my knitting now – a kind of funny contrast to the fitted sweaters I was so committed to knitting in the early 00s).

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This design addresses the main issues that I tend to have with pullovers – the wide neck sits comfortably, and the lace panels between the cables keep the worsted weight material from feeling too warm.

Between these two sweaters, I’ve had a lot of false starts and frogged projects. This happens a lot when I’m tired or frazzled – I have a hard time matching yarn to pattern, or picking a project that will hold my interest. When I feel that way but still want to knit, I wish I would remember in the moment to just make a pair of plain socks, but that’s a lesson that I can’t quite get to stick. For instance, at the moment, I’m knitting Pam Allen’s Nori pattern, which I love, with a stash of Classic Elite Portland Tweed (sadly discontinued) with which I have knit and frogged TWO complete sweaters. I think I’ve finally landed on the right match with Nori, and thank goodness, because I’m starting to worry that I can’t move on to a new project until I’ve successfully used up this yarn.

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Yarn Horoscope

I just saw Lion Brand’s 2015 Horoscopes for the Yarn Lover and mine is downright uncanny:

Leo (July 23-August 22)

The ascendance of Jupiter brings with it the urge to “knit down” your yarn stash. If you must capitulate, do so in moderation. I’m not saying that a worldwide wool embargo will extinguish the global supply of reasonably-priced worsted weight; but I’m not saying that won’t happen, either.

Finished Hela

I stole some morning light before work today to snap a few quick photos of my finished Hela cardigan. In current freezing temperatures, I am wearing this almost every day, and I love the way the Lopi yarn is wearing in.

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The button band could be a little bit neater, and of course looking at the photos I can see that the top button is a bit heavy and pulls at the neckband. But these are pretty minor complaints, and otherwise, I think this is my favorite thing that I have ever knit.

At some point I will knit a pullover lopapeysa, but for this sweater, the steek was definitely the right choice.

New Year Socks

My attention span has been pretty laughable lately. I’ve been starting and promptly setting aside projects steadily for weeks now. In keeping with my goal to relax a bit more, I am trying this radical experiment of not caring about it. I’m just going to let them sit for the moment, and soon I will know whether I want to knit or rip, and I’ll pick them back up then.

Thanks to my commute, though, I’ve still managed to finish one little project, my first FO of 2015.

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These are just basic top-down stockinette socks with a heel flap. Nothing fancy about the construction, but the yarn is a different story. This is Spun Right Round‘s Snappy Socks in the colorway Graffiti. I love this yarn. I think it looks like funfetti cake. It’s so outside of my normal neutral color palette, in the best way. There’s a lot to be said for bright white and bright colors during dreary New England winter.

And because I can rarely avoid including a Felane photo, here is an outtake of her snooping around my camera. I always forget that if I don’t hold her while I’m taking photos, she can’t stay away from the self timer.

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Still Here!

Wow…what an extended unintentional break from this site. It’s been a busy fall/early winter and I am just starting to catch my breath.

What is the quick and dirty version of what has happened since this summer? I had a lot of fun participating in Squam in the City, I started a new position as an archivist, I got sick and stayed sick for nearly a month, probably because I can’t ever just let myself rest at the start when I should, and I have been entertaining some thoughts about returning to school again. There is some sample knitting mixed in there, and more recently some secret Christmas gift knitting, and a little (thought not as much as I’d like) reading for fun. Maybe I’ll stick to the simplest little update and mention that I cut all of my hair off and have since been knitting many hats to keep my cold head a little warmer as winter sets in.

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The hat shown above is Skiff by Jared Flood, and it might be my current favorite hat pattern around. Such a quick and versatile knit. My version is in Cascade Alpaca Lana D’Oro, in the Olive Oil colorway. Now that I don’t have a few pounds of hair to accommodate, I could have probably gone down to a size 7 needle instead of the recommended 8, but I am really happy with this unmodified version. I may knit another after the holidays to compare. I’ve been enjoying the instant gratification of hat knitting lately, and it is a nice way to experiment with colors I might not use for a larger garment.

These last few weeks of 2014 will continue to be busy ones, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now, and I’m looking forward to a January of chipping away at some much-anticipated selfish knits, making a dent in my to-read list, and drinking lots of coffee in bed with my little cat friend.

I hope you are all wrapping up your year without too much holiday chaos, and are looking forward to similarly pleasant winter months!

A Little Knitting

I have been keeping pretty busy wrapping up work, taking on freelance projects, and searching for my next permanent position, on top of going home to visit friends and family in Pennsylvania. There is always knitting, but sometimes it is slower going. I am also fighting the urge to cast on new projects when I have pieces in progress that I do desperately want to wear this fall and winter.

I did finally block my Hela lopapeysa, which I decided in the end not to steek (for now). Though I may knit something similar and snip it into a cardigan.

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And though I have not blocked or added buttons to my Larch cardigan, I am happy to have finally finished knitting it – this was my oldest WIP, stretching back to 2010. I think this started as a stockinette grad school lecture project. I’m not sure why I set it down after I finished the body. But I am very glad to have picked it up four years later. Also thanking my lucky stars it still fits. I’m ready for cooler weather so I can wear this every day.

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While staying at my mom’s house, I came across these oversized knitting needles, which I believe once belonged to my great-grandma, the only other knitter in my family. While I tend to enjoy life below worsted-weight, I have been really admiring chunky giant-gauge blankets, rugs, etc. lately. I also like a knitting needle that (as friends were quick to point out) you can kill a vampire with.

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Maybe I’ll dive in headfirst and rewatch Buffy while I knit up something really fat with these this winter.

With any luck, I’ll be reporting back soon with job news and a few more finished objects.

Little Wave & Sandness

Two Gudrun Johnston patterns to share – I guess it’s safe to say I’m a fan.

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First up: I was so excited to share my version of the  Little Wave cardigan that I went right ahead and took some poorly lit nighttime photos of it after work last week, because daylight is somewhat scarce lately. I’ve been watching a lot of Dawson’s Creek while working on some sample knitting lately, so this is really in the spirit of “I don’t wanna wait,” etc., etc., etc. I love this sweater!

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Any time a new Wool People collection comes out, I fall all over myself deciding what to knit next. This time around I knew in an instant that it was Little Wave. I went ahead and knit it big and roomy (about 4-5 inches of positive ease). There are so many perfect details in this pattern – pockets, saddle shoulders, garter stitch faux elbow patches, to name just my very favorites.

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I could see knitting this again in a smaller size, for a more structured-looking garment, but I’m really pleased with the slouchy fit this time around. Seeing the project gallery on Ravelry,  I also have to say I love how the stitch pattern looks in lighter neutrals, so there is very likely another Little Wave in my future. Good thing I loved the process of knitting this!

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I’d stashed a sweater’s worth of Berroco Remix (the color is Bittersweet) probably close to a year ago; I think it might have been on sale at Webs? Looking at the fiber profile of this yarn, it doesn’t seem like my usual fare. It’s mostly nylon and cotton, with some acrylic, silk, and linen in the mix. But this is absolutely one of my favorite sweater yarns. The fibers are 100% recycled, and maybe that is what makes them so fluffy and soft. This is also a machine washable yarn, though I’ve never tested that myself. I actually like the process of hand washing my knits.

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I knit the Sandness shawl as a gift for a friend who has been stressed out applying for grad school, and who loves bright, warm colors, which of course, I rarely wear myself. Deep, deep in my stash I had some Brown Sheep Nature Spun fingering weight wool (the color is Sunburst Gold). Though I had one skein less than I thought I had, so this shawl has some sizing idiosyncrasies.  I knit the center triangle for the larger shawl size, but having only two skeins of yarn instead of three, had to knit one less repeat of the edging than I’d intended. As a result, the wingspan of the finished shawl is a bit more narrow than indicated in the pattern.

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That said, I still think this is lovely, and my friend was very excited when she received it. This was a pleasure to knit – I love the construction method of creating yarn-overs at the beginning of each row, which creates visual loops at the end that can be easily picked up for adding edging. It’s a construction technique I’ll certainly use for future improvised shawls – I can see it being especially useful in square shawls that require picking up hundreds of stitches. (Real talk: I hate picking up stitches, so simply slipping a needle through a nice neat yarn-over hole is just about the best trick since the contiguous sleeve method.)

Again, this is something I can see knitting again. I love traditional Shetland shawls, and I would love a version for myself that includes the full edging. And I do have three or four (confirmed) skeins of the same yarn in a dark burgundy, a color I do actually wear. Maybe it’s meant for this. We will see. I love the lofty gauge of this wool on size 6 needles.

I think recently knitting things nearly perfectly has been a major theme. I just wrapped up and sent off the sample work I was doing, and am looking forward to knitting something a few things for myself that have been really tempting me lately. With a little patience and a little more daylight, maybe I will feel a little less like I’m phoning it in on the documentation front.

Til then.

Stasis

Finally got around to taking a few photos of my Stasis pullover, which I think I finished back in November.

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This has become the equivalent of a pullover sweatshirt in my wardrobe. I generally prefer wearing skirts instead of pants, but when I do wear pants, this is the sweater I reach for every time.

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The Brooklyn Tweed Loft yarn is smooshy and warm but lightweight, and has worn in exceptionally well. This sweater has been bundled over shirts and under coats, and has been excessively cuddled by my cat (as some of these photos will suggest) and has been up to these challenges at every turn.

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Leila Raabe designed a perfect relaxed pullover here, using a really beautifully simple colorwork motif that works so well with this woolen spun yarn. I just can’t say enough good things about it.

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I, uncharacteristically, didn’t make any modifications to the pattern. Initially I thought I’d make it a little bit more fitted, but I love how slouchy and cozy this is. I’m really glad I didn’t take it in at all.

(This last photo is more a photo of Felane than of the sweater. I can’t help it, the girl just always looks so good.)

Me Doing Whatever I Want, All the Time

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Starting the new year in a quiet way. The weather has been cold even for New England, and I’ve been spending as much time as possible indoors knitting and reading. Above, my first pair of socks in far too long. Glad to have brought back the tradition of knitting myself a pair of new year socks. I love that even though it’s been years, and I thought I couldn’t remember my basic sock recipe, my hands went into autopilot and these plain vanilla socks (in a self-striping Regia yarn) practically fell right out of them. Perhaps this is the beginning of another sock streak.

It may or may not be worth noting that when knitting simple socks for myself, I like 60 stitches on size 1 needles, starting with a ribbed cuff, working down the leg to a slipped stitch heel flap, gusset, and kitchener stitch toe. Though when yarn quantity is a concern, I like a toe-up sock with accent toe and heel colors. For what it’s worth.

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So far this year I’ve read one book that made me cry (Anders Nilsen’s The End, from which the panel above was taken) and have been leisurely reading through one book that makes me blush (D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow).

As much as I normally love winter, I won’t complain when this cold snap ends. When the weather keeps me from wanting to make a trip to the library, you know it’s finally just a little too cold.

Nola’s Slipper Pattern

Somehow winter is here, and I find myself without slippers. (I think I may have left my slippers at my old place when I moved, so this is not a permanent problem.) But it seemed like a good excuse to whip up some house socks, something I’ve meant to do for a long time anyway.

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Nola’s slipper pattern couldn’t be any faster or easier. Knit on size 9 needles with worsted weight yarn held double (or a really bulky yarn if you prefer), and constructed in one piece with only one seam to graft, these really are a perfect quick fix for cold feet. I used Patons Classic Wool, and I’m debating letting them felt a bit in the wash. My painted wooden floors, while aesthetically pleasing, are more or less a cat hair magnet, no matter how often I sweep. So washing these babies will be required, and I’d just as soon throw them in the machine. We’ll see how that goes.

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Something about the look of these reminds me of the 1970s style of my great-grandma Bea’s knitting. In a really sweet way. Maybe it’s the color of the yarn, or the chunky simplicity of the construction, or the garter stitch foot. I can’t exactly put a finger on it, but these do make me feel weirdly nostalgic. In any case, I look forward to a winter of breaking these pups in.