Knitting

Black and White Cotton Cardigan

A few months ago, I decided I wanted a black-and-white cardigan with some sort of graphic element to add to my “transition” wardrobe. I envisioned wearing it with a white t-shirt or blouse and a pair of ankle-length jeans, with some black flats.

I had all the pieces except the sweater, and I finally found a pattern I thought would work. It’s a cardigan designed by Jeannie Chin from the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Vogue Knitting. It needed a few revisions to meet my requirements, however.

B&W CardiganFirst, I reversed the colorway, so white is the dominant color and the black is the accent. Not a big deal there. Knitters do it all the time. The second change was a little more significant and affected a few other elements of the design. As designed, the sweater is cropped (and adorable), a style that didn’t suit my needs — or figure.

So instead of knitting 8 inches to the sleeve opening, I knit 12 ½ inches. I also lengthened the ribbing from 1 ¼ inches to 1 ¾ inches, or 14 rows, on everything. This made the styling a little more traditional, but the zippy feeling of the sweater wasn’t compromised.

The original design had six rows of stockinette stitch between each band of four rows of garter stitch (that band also has the dropped stitches). I changed that to eight rows of stockinette stitch, maintaining the garter stitch band as the pattern was written. It seemed to better suit the black-on-white “light” feeling.

The dropped stitches, by the way, were a piece of cake. It did take a little maneuvering to keep the yarn from pulling behind the dropped stitches, and I accomplished this by placing my finger over those stitches and knitting over my finger. It still pulled back some, but it worked out when I blocked it.

I also carried the alternating colors up the side when I switched colors rather than break and join the yarn each section. That would have been way too much weaving in.

The original pattern had you knit the button and buttonhole band as you made the front pieces, and included the stripes in those bands. I debated about keeping that element for a long time, and finally decided to place the five stitches for each band on a safety pin and pick up the stitches later to knit the band all in the main color.

I increased one stitch on each band on the sweater side for seaming and knit that piece one needle size up from the ribbing. So I used a size 5 needle, or 3.75mm, for the band instead of the size 4, or 3.5mm, that I used for the ribbing.

The sleeves proved to be a bit problematic. Even though the suggested needle size for the body of the sweater worked (size 6, or 4mm), I had to go up one size from the suggested size for the sleeves.  (The suggested size for the sleeves is smaller than the body, by the way — size 4.) That wasn’t the problem; that’s just good knitting practice — follow your swatch, which led me to size 5 needles.

B&W Cardigan sleeve
The sleeve before I blocked it (and before I re-did the cap). I wet-blocked it and adjusted it to the correct proportions.

What was a problem was the top of the sleeve. When I set it in the armhole, it was way too short. I ended up ripping out the top of the sleeve and reknitting it by decreasing stitches every other row all the way up, and every fourth row for the last two decreases, ending with the same number of stitches to bind off as the pattern required. Even then, it was difficult to set the sleeve.

The sleeve also needed some good blocking. The lace pattern caused it to slant somewhat. That was fairly easy to accomplish, thank goodness.

And lest I forget, I used Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima. It took five skeins of the white — although I grimaced at how little of the fifth skein I needed — and one skein of the black.

Overall, I’m happy with the sweater, but I’ve been a bit sedentary lately and need to lose about five pounds to make it fit right!! So damn the heat — it’s time to walk!!

Knitting

Lace Vest

I’ve been wanting to make this vest since I first saw it in the Early Fall 2015 Vogue Knitting. I finally got my chance this spring, and I’m delighted with the finished result. I do plan to wear it as a vest and not a pullover (it easily could be worn as a sleeveless pullover) as age is betraying me and my pale arms are not shown to their best advantage in anything sleeveless.

Pink Lace Vest 2It’s Pattern #18, Vine Lace Shell, and it was a fairly easy pattern to work up, with some nice detail at the ribbing. There’s a rolled edge there made with a reverse stockinette, and even though the pattern didn’t call for it, I added that edge to the sleeves. Debating now whether it was worth it, but I don’t plan to change anything.

The pattern instructions have you working the ribbing at the neck and the sleeves back-and-forth rather than in the round, but I chose to do it in the round, which meant I needed to alter the instructions for the rolled edge. It was easy enough, and if you choose to do the same thing, you’d knit one round, purl two rounds, then knit another two rounds. You’re starting on Row Two of the Rolled Edge pattern this way, as the first knit row would be the stitches you pick up around the edge.

Rather than have three reverse stockinette stitches on each side of the front and back — which makes for challenging finishing — I chose to add two stitches to each piece, one stitch on each side, and work it this way: K2, P2, then on to the 4th stitch of the pattern, ending P2, K2 (instead of P3 on each side). Of course I worked the wrong side P2, K2 and K2, P2 on the edges, in that order. That makes seaming a lot smoother!

Pink Lace VestI also made the body about an inch longer than the pattern calls for, and the pattern is fairly long to start with, but I thought the longer piece would be more in keeping with current styles. It’s also a little more flattering on me.

I made it with Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK in color 674, Shell Pink. I think I have enough pink in my wardrobe for awhile!! This yarn was wonderful to work with and I think worked well with this pattern.

It’s a very stretchy piece, and looks way too skinny when you first finish it. However, it pulls out quite a bit, so trust the finished sizes given. Just be sure to do a swatch!!

 

Knitting

Pink Basketweave Sweater

A new top for spring! And the way it’s been warming up lately, just in time. Sigh. I don’t really feel I got full use out of my winter wardrobe this year. It took so long for any cold weather to arrive, and it’s been so warm so often.

Pink Cable Sweater 2But I digress. The pattern is from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2012, pattern #28, “Cap Sleeve Top.” It was designed by Wenlan Chia for Twinkle Knits, those big chunky yarns that were popular a few years ago — and have since been discontinued. Oh well. I had a stash of Rowan Wool Cotton yarn (also discontinued) and I put it to work, using two strands to get the desired gauge.

Actually, the Twinkle yarn the pattern calls for also used two strands held together. I didn’t know that Twinkle had ever made a DK weight yarn, but that’s useless trivia now.

Anyway, I used size 11 needles for the body of the sweater, just as the pattern suggested. The ribbing required size 8 needles, but I used 9s for the bottom band. I did use 8s for all the rest of the ribbing, including the bands that were knit separately and attached.

Attaching those bands was a tiny bit tricky, You’re knitting two separate pieces together, and it’s easy to miss — and drop — stitches.

I’ve done this basketweave stitch before, and while I like the look, knitting it is a tiny bit tedious. You’re using that cable needle A LOT. The chunky yarn compensated for that, however, and it’s only in the front, so overall, this sweater knit up very quickly.

Even though I had the same yardage and weight as the suggested yarn, I was concerned it wasn’t going to be enough (as I said before, this was stash yarn that’s been discontinued, so I couldn’t get any more), so I knit the sweater two inches shorter than the pattern length. As it turns out, I was really close on the yarn, so that was a wise decision, but I think I would have liked the extra length.

Pink Cable SweaterI expect this to be a great transition weather sweater, one I could even wear as a vest over a blouse (I have one that would be just right, I think), but it will be far too heavy for our very hot summers.

I was surprisingly happy with the neckline. That’s such a tricky part of knitting, knowing whether or not the neckline will work for you.

Overall, this project was a success!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knitting

Lovely Grey Shawl

Just finished this shawl, and I’m looking for a place to wear it. (Of course the weather has just gotten very warm here in my area, but I trust it will cool off again before spring truly arrives.) Great design, one that looks more complicated than it was to make.

Grey Lace Shawl

The pattern is from Vogue Knitting Holiday 2016, pattern #4 “Faux Cable Shawl.” I’m not sure I’d really call it a “faux cable,” more of a “medallion lace,” but no matter, the result of this lace pattern is desirable. As you might guess, you knit the same pattern repeat for the bulk of the piece. It’s a twelve-row pattern, one that increases by 12 stitches with each repeat. It knit up very quickly and was a pleasure to work on. I seemed to get through each pattern repeat so quickly, despite the increases!

I used five skeins of DK Merino Superwash by Plymouth in Light Gray (love the simple way they name their yarns!), which knit up to gauge with a size seven needle. The pattern called for a 48″ circular needle, and while I eventually outgrew my 24″, the 40″ I ended up with wasn’t necessary to comfortably accommodate all the stitches. I believe a 32″ would have been fine, and maybe a little easier to work with. But, to each his own.

The yarn I used isn’t as dressy as the yarn used in the pattern, but it knit up beautifully. I’m very pleased with my choice.

I wet-blocked the shawl, and initially it stretched out several inches wider than the finished size listed in the pattern. However, as it dried, due to the nature of the lace pattern, it regained some of the “bubbly” texture it had as I was knitting it, which pulled it back to the listed size.

The picot edge didn’t come out quite like the picture in the magazine, however, it did pull those points out and give it the intended swoopy-edge (you can’t really see that in the above picture, but the final result had the swoops).

I was going to put this on my sofa and use it as a convenient decorative piece I could wrap myself up in on cold evenings, but once I took a good look at the throw currently serving that purpose, I changed my mind. My cats somehow think knit pieces on the back of the sofa are akin to scratching posts, and that poor throw is so pilled from being clawed. I don’t want that to happen to this shawl!

Knitting

Red and Grey Vest

Well, I finally finished it! Here it is — the vest I’ve been promising my mom for several years now.

vkf11_topper-06_medium2
The pattern I started with, from Vogue Knitting Fall 2011.

Truth to tell, this isn’t the original design. That was from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2011, and required some yarn I wasn’t able to find. I not only couldn’t find the original recommended yarn, I couldn’t find a substitute at the appropriate gauge. So I pulled out the calculator and measuring tape, and re-wrote that pattern to fit the new yarn.

I also had to adjust the size, since my mom didn’t want the sweater to be as big around as the finished size for the original pattern. Plus, she wanted it longer, with some adjustments to the sleeves. So I factored all of that in, and carefully wrote out each and every change.

Then I started knitting. Talk about tedious. The back was 24″ wide and 27″ long, and except for the two inches of ribbing at the bottom, entirely stockinette stitch. When I got to the front, I couldn’t stand the boredom any longer, and got started on the inserts before I finished the “boring” part. I realized that was also the best way to make sure the two pieces would fit together.

The inserts were two pieces of Shaker-style ribbing that would create a diamond shape set in the upper half of the front, with a buttonband down the middle. That’s where the math failed me. I could not get the pieces to knit up to the right size and shape, and eventually lost all motivation to keep trying.

So I told my mom, sorry, it’s not going to be that sweater you first wanted. Just isn’t going to happen. She was disappointed, but accepted it.

red-and-grey-vest
The finished result.

Instead I found a houndstooth check pattern and knit up the two pieces you see in the finished sweater. They had to be knit up separately from the bottom half since the stranded knitting made for a much tighter gauge, but fortunately the required size and the check pattern I found meshed together perfectly.

I used Rowan Pure Wool Worsted, a superwash wool that I think will wear well and be very comfortable for my mom. The last sweater I made for her wasn’t a superwash, and even though I warned her not to throw it in the dryer, she did — and it came out felted and considerably smaller.

The buttons came from Needlework Unlimited in Minneapolis. My friend Karen owns that store, and it’s one of the few yarn stores I know of that carries a decent selection of buttons. I’m told they’re a big investment for stores and don’t sell very quickly, so it’s just not possible for everyone to stock buttons.

In the middle of my work on this vest, I found a yarn store in Rochester, Minn. that carries the original recommended yarn for that pattern from Vogue Knitting. Someday, maybe I’ll actually make it. In the meantime, I think this will look really cute on my mom and will serve her well!

Knitting

Lace Shawl — Completed!

So happy with the results! It seems like it took forever, but I guess that wasn’t really the case. Knitting shawls has one drawback: since you’re increasing the whole way, the piece is getting bigger, and it takes longer and longer to complete a row or section. But in this case, it was worth it.

bg-shawlette

The finished product is smaller than the pattern dimensions because I used a lighter gauge yarn. However, it’s the perfect size for me. It’s about 52″ across the top.

I used Bamboo Pop yarn (50% cotton, 50% bamboo) and knitting with it was a pleasure. The gauge for the pattern was 24 stitches to 4″. I ended up using just over 2 1/2 skeins.

Knitting

Red and White Toque Part 2

Well, the first attempt with this pattern (see my last post) was less than successful, and never one to stay away from a challenge, I tried again with different yarn. I also held the white yarn on my left side this time, since it appears that’s my dominant color side in stranded knitting these days. Somewhere along the line that switched…hmmm….

red and white toque woolAnyway, I used Cascade 220 Superwash (worsted weight) this time, with much better results. Still, there are other fair isle patterns I’ve made that are so much prettier. I had a post last December in which I compared different yarns I used for one pattern. Hopefully I got the image problems I was having before with that post corrected! If there are still problems, please let me know. I’m not sure I can correct them at this point, but I’ll try.

I went up a needle size because the pattern was pretty small — finished size of 18″ diameter, that’s small for an adult woman, — and lots of ladies in my family wear larger hat sizes.

I will add a pompom, I think. This hat really needs one. I’m not generally a pompom gal, but I think I’ll make an exception here.

I’m not sure if this will end up in the donate pile with the other one or not. It’s a very pretty hat, I’m happy with the results, it’s just that there are other hats I’ve made that I’m happier with. It would make a great “giving” hat. It’s machine washable, warm and pretty.

The pattern was in the Fall 2015 Vogue Knitting. It’s really easy, I mean really easy, one of the easiest fair isle patterns I’ve ever done.

 

Background Image Credit: © Hasloo Group Production Studio — Fotolia
Knitting

Mosaic Knitting Surprised Me

I’ve taken on mosaic knitting, and at first I felt like I was cheating with this form of two-color knitting.  I’m more than accomplished at stranded/fair isle techniques and I confess my pride was peeking through a little. Initially I thought, I don’t want anyone smugly thinking she couldn’t do the real thing so she’s trying that second-rate color stuff.

Mosaic sweaterI’ve had a change of thinking. Mosaic knitting doesn’t try to mimic stranded knitting; it’s a unique style, and a beautiful one.

I’ve had to go back and re-do I don’t know how many wrong side rows because I keep forgetting to hold the yarn in the back for the slipped stitches. If you don’t, the mosaic pattern won’t show, so it’s important.

My main frustration is that the mosaic pattern is knit entirely in garter stitch, which takes about 40 percent more rows per inch to complete. Some people knit more quickly with a garter stitch, and with the mosaic you’re only using one color per row, so it may not be a problem for some, but it seemed to take forever.

However, I am liking the look. It has a nice drape, not as heavy as stranded knitting. I’m also happy with my color choices, pink and black. The pattern (the cover pattern on the Winter 2015 VK) uses two colors very similar to each other for a more subtle texture. That’s also a nice look, but I think it would be difficult to differentiate the colors when you’re knitting, especially if you’re new to this technique.

I’m using an old favorite yarn of mine, Rowan Wool Cotton, which wears incredibly well and is good to work with. It is a little too warm for summer months (even late spring), but I don’t find myself wearing many sweaters at that time anyway.

The pattern is a little odd. The back is entirely 2×2 rib, as are the sleeves, so it’s form-fitting. The ribbing in the back isn’t very flattering for anyone with a less-than perfect body. Plus, knitting in 2×2 rib is tedious. I’d actually suggest using a different pattern for this style of knitting. I think I’ll like the sweater, but I wouldn’t recommend it as the most satisfying pattern to work with.

Knitting

Red Wool Top

I was really pleased to find the pattern for this versatile top for my mom in the Holiday 2014 Vogue Knitting. It’s pattern #20, the Cable and Chevron Top. It’s  probably an intermediate level pattern, with some cable work, plenty of increases and decreases to create the chevron stripes, and a slightly different way than usual to shape the neck (but no more difficult).

red-sweater

The yarn I used was Ella Rae Classic Wool, which is not machine washable. (That brand also has a machine washable yarn in the same weight, but I believe the color choices are different and possibly more limited.) I found it easy to work with. It doesn’t split, for example, and is fairly smooth. Maybe a teensy rough, but it is wool, after all. It’s not scratchy to wear, and insulates but is lightweight. Unlike so many hand-knit sweaters, this one could easily be worn inside, even if long sleeves were added.

I used a size eight needle, although the recommended size is a size seven, but the gauge was accurate. I tried a sample with a size seven needle and I was off by one stitch over a 4″ piece, which as you know can add up over the entire width of the sweater.

Now I don’t claim I always knit to the suggested gauge with the suggested needle size, but unless it’s mohair, more often than not I do. Sometimes there are ridiculous suggestions, like a size 3 needle for 6 stitches to an inch, and then no, I don’t knit to what’s on the label.

This top is meant to be oversized, so if you decide to make it, be careful you choose the correct size.

The finished result is really cute and I believe something my mom will get a lot of use out of!

Update: I delivered the sweater to my mom for Valentine’s Day. It fits perfectly and she loves it! She’s found it works with pants and plans to make a skirt to go with it too. This sweater is a style I believe will work for all ages. I looked on Ravelry and saw it modeled on several women, young and old(er), and it looked age-appropriate on all of them.