Tag Archives: sweater

When in Iceland

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You dress in layers. If you go during the shoulder season (essentially equivalent to fall and spring in terms of timing, but not in terms of weather, which can be very unpredictable), you wear several layers, at least a few of which are wool. L and I both have a few of those thin, fine merino wool base layers, but what we lacked before this trip was heavier, more rugged wool sweaters. So, I spent the summer changing that.

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I thought a lot about what I wanted to knit myself for the wedding (a wedding shawl seemed like the obvious thing until I realized that I really didn’t want to cover the top of my dress at all) before deciding that knitting something for our honeymoon would be just as special. Plus, as I mentioned previously, I ended up knitting L a pair of wedding socks, so we still had a little hand knit element.

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You can see the extra fabric around the tops of the arms/shoulders, but the colourwork part of the yoke is perfect.

My sweater flew off the needles. I had heard that Stopover, by Mary Jane Mucklestone, was a speedy knit, but whoa. I am quite pleased with the finished sweater, though there’s a bit too much fabric around the shoulders I think. I debated ripping back and changing the pace of the decreases, but the extra fabric didn’t bother me when I was wearing it, just in photos. This sweater was used as a pillow, shoved into bags, worn under a backpack, worn to restaurants and while hiking, and it came through pretty much unscathed (just a little fuzz on the forearms, which can be easily dealt with).

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I’m quite pleased with how this turned out. I’ll need to work on improving the neckline for the next sweater (this one stretched out quite a bit). Maybe I’ll try casting off and then picking up the stitches for the rib, for some extra structure.

L’s sweater isn’t really Icelandic in any way except that I used lopi. The pattern — Galdhöpiggen, by Erika Guselius — was only available in Swedish when I knit this (there’s an English version now), so I spend a fair bit of time with Google Translate and, in the end, mostly winged it. I knit L’s sweater as a looser gauge than the pattern was written for, both because it was faster and because he really didn’t need a dense wool sweater to stay warm. I made sure my stitch counts lined up with the charts and then knit to his measurements, with about zero ease before blocking. It blocked out to a couple of inches of positive ease, and grew a bit more as he wore it and pulled it on and off throughout the day. He wore it every day we were there (every. single. day.)

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Handknit hat, cowl and sweater. Pretty good look, I’d say.

I haven’t quite gotten around to washing and re-blocking these sweaters since we got back (and they do need it), so I’m not sure if they’ll shrink back at all, but let me just say: lopi stretches. It doesn’t have any of the bounce of merino or even BFL, so when it stretches it just stays stretched. I’m hoping a slightly warm soak will help get things back in place, but that is definitely something I’ll be keeping in mind when I knit our next round of sweaters (of course we bought wool for one more each while we were there).

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L’s eventual sweater is on the left, mine is on the right. I thought I’d go for colours too, but I couldn’t decide, and in the end decided I couldn’t go wrong with neutrals.

L’s sweater actually took a lot less time to knit than I anticipated, so I had time to knit a few other things in addition to his socks. He is actually quite well equipped in terms of cold weather hand knits, so I did a quick survey of what I needed and in the three weeks before our wedding knit myself a headband, a cowl and a pair of fingerless mitts. Of the three, the mitts were the most successful and have taken up residence in my purse because they are perfect for the rapidly warming and cooling temperatures of this time of year. The headband is great too, though I find it a little itchy across my forehead. I’m going to try soaking it with a little conditioner to see if that helps. The cowl I knit three times and I’m still not quite happy with it. It’s just a bit too loose to really keep me warm, so I think I might rip it out one last time and knit it up with 10 to 12 fewer stitches. It’s a quick knit (I knit it twice in one day), so I’m not too worried about that being a major undertaking.

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Kind of a ridiculous picture, but the only one in which headband, cowl and mitts are all on display. (I meant to get some proper pictures of each, and then forgot.)

Of course, not everything we took to Iceland was new. L wore his cowl, gloves and this hat regularly. I stuck my Norby hat in my bag at the last minute was so glad I did, since I actually wore it quite a bit. My Epistrophy sweater was in regular rotation with my Stopover, and on a couple of the warmer days I wore my Stasis sweater. Plus, we both wore hand knit socks every day.

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Epistrophy was a perfect mid-weight sweater to bring. I actually layered it under my Stopover a couple of times!

The Slow Fashion October theme for this week is “Long Worn,” with the idea being a celebration of garments long loved — hand-me-downs, thrift-store finds, pieces you’ve refashioned, etc. — and I really had planned to write about a couple of my oldies-but-goodies, but as I was writing this I realized that in some cases, long worn starts with the making. Barring some very unfortunate accident (looking at you, washing machine), we’ll be wearing these sweaters for decades. They are well made, using good quality wool, and they’re not really tied to any particular trend. They aren’t long worn yet, but they will be, and knowing that is part of what made the knitting so rewarding.

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Part of planning any trip

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Is planning what to wear while you’re away, right? Well, in less than two months, L and I will be on our honeymoon in Iceland, so it seemed only sensible that we have lopapeysur to wear while we’re there.

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Pattern: Stopover by Mary-Jane Mucklestone • Yarn: Istex Lett Lopi in # 86, #9412 and #1407, plus some of the leftovers from my Karusellen hat

I knit mine first, partly because I knew what I wanted, which made starting easy, but also because I have yet to knit L a sweater, and lopi isn’t exactly soft. It’s not unduly scratchy either, I don’t think, but it’s not merino, so I wanted to make sure he could get a real sense of the fabric before I knit him a sweater. (I see no sense in knitting him something he won’t wear, so this was a no-pressure, no-surprises knit. He chose the pattern and colours for his sweater, has been trying it on as I go — just sleeves so far — etc. Kicking off our marriage by knitting him a sweater he wouldn’t wear and that I’d be annoyed he didn’t wear seemed like a pretty bad idea.)

Anyway, this isn’t about L’s sweater (which I’ll write more about later), this is about mine, which is finished. Finishing a lopapeysa in mid-July is a bit strange, to be honest. This must be the first time I’ve finished a sweater and not been excited to put it on! I knit it through a wave of very hot and humid weather, and it took days to dry after blocking because their was so much moisture in the air. Needless to say, this was a quick little selfie photoshoot because, a) It was too hot for more than that, and b) There will be time during our trip to get proper photos of it in suitable weather.

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I knit Stopover, by Mary-Jane Mucklestone, and it really is as quick as you’ve heard. My gauge was a bit tighter than intended because they don’t make 7.5mm needles (really!), and even that didn’t slow me down. Time from start to finish, without any rush: less than a month. At that speed, there may well be another in my future, especially since the lopi softened up quite nicely. I’m just wearing it with a t-shirt in these photos, which probably isn’t how I’ll wear it usually, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. I most concerned about the neck, where I can be a bit sensitive, but it was fine!

So, that’s one down, most of one to go, and a little more than six weeks. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I am feeling pretty good about those odds. (Just don’t remind me that I also have socks on the needles for L, the colour of which that he says would go really well with his suit. No pressure at all.)

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At last!

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I have been talking about knitting Sibella for well over a year now. When Carrie Bostick Hoge released Madder Anthology 1, the Sibella Cardigan immediately jumped out at me. It has a fairly simple construction and style, with an interest yoke detail, making it a lot like Grace, which I wear all the time.

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What a lovely grey! This is Jill Draper Makes Stuff Esopus in Graphite, which I picked up during her studio sale last year.

Since I first mentioned my desire to knit Sibella, I have knit four other sweaters! And every time, I seem to reaffirm my plan to knit Sibella next… I think part of what has been holding me back is that it’s fingering weight, which is eminently practical but slow to knit. And, I couldn’t quite decide on a colour: I needed and wanted a grey cardigan (having lamented numerous times about not having a go-to neutral), but it always seems like it would be so much more fun to knit this in a colour.

But, my desire to have this cardigan in my closet, and the increasing sense that If I just had Sibella done, I’d have the right thing to wear finally pushed me over the edge. Spring is almost here, making this the perfect time to knit a lightweight sweater, and not such a bad time to knit a grey one. That I had the perfect grey yarn in my stash definitely helped.

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I triumphantly cast on last weekend and having been knitting away fairly contentedly since. The gauge is quite loose (and I’m knitting slightly tight, as usual), so I have had to fix a few little blips (I keep purling into the row below, for example), but I can already tell that the fabric will have a nice drape and be comfortable to wear. I’ve just started the waist shaping, which means I’m about a third of the way through the body.

I have a little goal to finish this in time to wear it during Me Made May. May is a nice month, to be sure, but it definitely requires layering, and it became very clear last year that if I want to create an everyday-wearable hand-made wardrobe, I need neutral pieces. Part of the reason I participated in MMM last year (and intend to again this year) was so I could see where the hole in my handmade wardrobe were and then do something about them. I am very pleased that Sibella will do both, though I should probably stop typing and get back to knitting — those long rows of grey stockinette aren’t going to knit themselves.

Like I planned it

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It wouldn’t quite be true to say that I planned to finish Epistrophy just as the weather turned cold, but sometimes the knitting knows what’s up even when you don’t. I started this sweater in March, knit the body up the arms and then put it aside in favour of various warm-weather projects.

After we moved to Ottawa, it came to my attention that this city is farther enough north to mean a noticeable change in the temperature as they seasons changed. (I knew this in an academic way before, but it’s something I *know* now.) I picked up Epistrophy again a couple of months ago and banged out the first sleeve pretty fast thanks to a weekend trip that involved a few hours in the car in each way. The second sleeve took a bit longer, and the yoke took longer still. My goal (articulated only to myself, as part of Slow Fashion October) was to have it finished by Thanksgiving (which was the Oct. 10-12 weekend), and I just squeaked in (though of course it took another two weeks to get photos).

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Epistrophy was a bunch of firsts for me: my first steek (I used Kate’s crochet steek tutorial and it wasn’t scary at all, though next time I’ll buy a smaller crochet hook — the scariest part, really, was trimming the steek, which meant removing all my carful reinforcing), my first time sewing ribbon facings into the button bands (it took forever and I’m not sure I did it quite right as they fronts sit a bit high. I should pull it out and redo it, but I’m worried about stressing the steek and also hate the though of all the work. I might try re-blocking it), and my first time knitting a Kate Davies pattern. This last one is what really kills me — I’ve been a fan of Kate’s designs since my earliest knitting days, and I own both her books and some of her single patterns. I don’t know why I hadn’t knit them before, but her instructions are excellent, and the results really do speak for themselves.

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I really, really love this sweater. Thanks to the yarn — Rowan Felted Tweed — it’s the perfect blend of lightweight and warm, and has enough ease to fit easily over long sleeves and button smoothly, but doesn’t sag or hang anywhere. I am, maybe weirdly, particularly happy with the sleeves. I find it hard to gauge how sleeves will fit when I’m knitting them bottom-up, and these ones are just the right length. They also fit exactly the way I wanted them to: enough ease to comfortably fit over a long-sleeves t-shirt (I haven’t yet tried it with the looser sleeves of a button-down shirt), but still snug enough to be flattering and easy to push up (I always push my sleeves up).

The only thing I’m not 100% happy with is the way the front neck sits up so close to my throat, and I’m pretty sure that’s my own fault for stretching out the button bands as I sewed on the ribbon. I’ll have to pull that out to fix it if it continues to bother me (maybe I’m just being sensitive), but really, that’s a minor (and very fixable) issue, and not enough to change how I feel about this cardigan: I love it!

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Sweaters are one part of my wardrobe where I don’t have to worry (yet, anyway) about having too much. Winter is long and cold, and when you add spring and fall into the mix, an assortment of sweaters in various weights and styles is just sensible! I am in the depths of holiday gift-knitting at the moment, but I don’t think it will be long until I have another sweater on my needles, and while my next one may not be one of Kate’s designs, it certainly won’t be long until I return to my library of her patterns — Ursula is looking mighty tempting right now, and I suspect Asta Sollilja  would find itself in heavy rotation once the weather turns really cold.

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Details
Pattern: Epistrophy by Kate Davies
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed DK in Treacle (main) and Scree (contrast)
Notes: The only changes I made to this pattern was to change the rate of the waist shaping in order to add length (I’m tall, and added 2.5 inches to the body length). I also added a bit of length to the sleeves, which reach just to my wrist bones (my preferred length). The chart was total pleasure to knit, and never have I had such an easy time matching both my button bands in length, and then lining up my buttonholes and buttons — the beaded rib pattern makes it so simple, and lies beautifully flat (and wrinkling in the above photos is due to lazy blocking). My buttons are these ones from Fringe Supply Co. Ravelled here.

I couldn't resist stacking up all my hand-knit sweaters after finishing Epistrophy. There's pretty good variety in that pile, though more light-weight and/or pullovers wouldn't go amiss.

I couldn’t resist stacking up all my hand-knit sweaters after finishing Epistrophy. There’s pretty good variety in that pile, though more light-weight and/or pullovers wouldn’t go amiss.

In progress

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Stockinette is not the most exciting fabric to look at, but it’s all I have to offer at the moment.

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I cast on Epistrophy a couple of weeks ago, and after a bit of a false start (the errata wasn’t linked to the project page, though it is now), it’s been going alone quite nicely. I’m adding 2.5 inches to the length of the body, so it’s just as well I’m enjoying all this knitting. I’m getting quite close to the point where I need to join the sleeves, which of course means I’m getting quite close to the point where I need to actually knit the sleeves. I’m hoping the anticipation of the fun yoke knitting will keep me going through the sleeves so I can get this done before it really is too warm to wear it (it’s snowing right now, so I think there’s a good chance I’ll be able to wear this before the warm weather really arrives).

I couldn't resist the contrast heel.

I couldn’t resist the contrast heel.

And of course there are socks. Usually I keep plain stockinette socks as background knitting, as an alternative project for when I’m working on something more involved. At the moment, Epistrophy isn’t all that challenging, so these have languished. They’re quite fun, though, and I suspect that once I decide I need a break from all that treacle-coloured tweed they’ll be quite  palate cleanser.

For sure, though, one of the reasons I’m so content to just sit and knit stockinette for ages on end is that I’ve been sewing. At the moment, it’s the perfect balance of getting the satisfaction of both finishing things and having a longtime project. I’m hoping to get some proper photos in the next few days so I’ll have some actual finished things to show you soon!

Super-cozy Bedford

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Thrilled. To. Pieces.

Thrilled. To. Pieces.

At last! I feel like it took almost as long to get photos of this sweater as it did to knit it! That’s an exaggeration, but the knitting really did feel like it was flying. Plus, I didn’t want to wear it until we’d taken photos (just in case), so Bedford sat finished and folded for a week before I finally got to wear it (and yes, I’ve been wearing it a fair bit since then).

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This is the big, cozy sweater of my mid-winter dreams. I knit this with the intent to have something slightly oversized (for layering) and that is exactly what I got (I was aiming for 3-4 inches of positive ease and got 6, which I’m okay with). It is perhaps not the most figure flattering sweater, but the stretchy texture of the all-over stitch pattern means that it isn’t shapeless or too tent/sack-like, which is what holds me back from knitting other oversized sweaters like Benton and Boxy, which I admire from afar. Bedford, for me, fits that perfect middle-ground usually reserved for a favourite sweatshirt: oversized without looking too big, with the bonus of being a sweater I can happily wear out of the house.

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Speaking of which, when we shot these photos it was -4C (about 25F) and snowing, and I wasn’t really cold. Obviously I left my scarf and mittens (these ones) on, but otherwise I was okay. I expected to be shivering and asking L to hurry up, but Bedford is surprisingly warm! It is a worsted-weight sweater, but I’d say it’s warmer than my Woodstove Season cardigan, which is knit at a similar gauge and in a similar wool. All that texture really pays off warmth-wise without making it way too hot to wear indoors (so far I’ve worn Bedford around my apartment, out to a restaurant, to an art gallery, and to work, and nowhere have I been uncomfortably warm).

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Construction-wise, I pretty much followed the pattern exactly. Knitting the sleeves inside out (which is to say, in stockinette rather than in reverse stockinette) worked out just fine — I just turned them right side out when it was time to join them to the body and there were no issues. I actually really like the look of the reverse-stockinette sleeves, so I might try this again on another sweater, just for fun. I also added fake-seams along the raglan lines. In the pattern, there are two stockinette stitches along the raglan lines, so I added a purl stitch in there (k1, p1, k1), which I then closed up exactly the way Karen describes in her tutorial. This is a heavy sweater, so I’m glad to have a bit of reinforcement along the lines where a lot of the weight hangs.

I had to change a few things in the raglan shaping/neckline to get the decreases to line up with my row gauge. I don’t remember exactly what I did, but I do know that I worked the raglans for 6 inches before binding off the initial neckline stitches (if I’d stuck to the pattern, this would have had quite a scoop neck). I also tried a new method for binding off the neckline stitches and I’m really happy with the result (my scarf kind of covers it up, but you can see the neckline in the photo in this post). It made for a very smooth bind-off, which in turn made it very easy to pick up the stitches for the ribbing. I will absolutely use this method going forward.

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Details
Pattern: Bedford by Michelle Wang
Yarn: Madelinetosh Vintage in Tart (from my stash! Woo!)
Notes: Besides what I’ve already mentioned, I added a few inches to both the body and sleeves. I also knit the sleeve ribbing on a smaller needle, in an attempt to avoid baggy cuffs. I didn’t totally succeed, but it turns out that reverse-stockinette is the perfect folding fabric. That is, usually I just push up my sleeves, but it turns out that if I fold these back the purl bumps grip each other quite nicely, so fitted cuffs aren’t such an issue. If I were knit this again (you never know), I would knit the bottom ribbing on a smaller needle too, just to give it a little more structure. Anyway, you see notes and whatnot on Ravelry, here.

I am itching to cast on another sweater, but haven’t yet found the perfect yarn for Epistrophy (I have some swatching to do), so I’ve decided to stick to small projects for the rest of February. I’m trucking along on my Dawlish socks, and I wound some yarn for new mittens, and I could use a new cowl. Basically, before I commit myself to another big project, want to get a revel in finishing some things first. That’s a kind of balance, right?

Buckled down

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Three days ago, I finished Bedford. Less than one month after casting on (though, thanks to a stupid error on my part that required me to rip out three inches, I missed finishing in January. Oh well). I don’t remember the last time I happily worked on a project with that kind of single-minded attention. No deadlines, no pressure, just happy knitting and the knowledge that, at the end, I’d have a cozy sweater. The cold, I suppose, is a powerful motivator. Anyway, it’s done, and I’m not going to say any more about it right now, since I’m still waiting for the chance to get proper photos, at which point it will get its own post.

 

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Okay, not quite true. I will also say this: I think one of the things I liked best about knitting Bedford was that I never felt guilty when I knit on something else. Guilt isn’t a feeling I tend to associate with my knitting, but sometimes when I’m beavering away* on a big project, I feel like it’s all I should be working on, which makes choosing to knit a few rounds on a pair of socks seem like a cop-out. I don’t know why that happens — unrealistic deadline setting, maybe? For Bedford I just wanted it done sometime in January/February, which turned out to be perfect — but it does, can sometimes deter me from casting on a big project (maybe I’m past that now!).

Almost an exact match so far!

Almost an exact match so far!

Anyway, I did sneak in a few rows (and afternoons) with my fun striped socks-of-the-moment, which means they’re pretty close to finished too! Just a few more inches and they’ll be off the needles and on my feet! I can’t wait, to be honest, the colours are fun and there’s just nothing like a fresh pair of socks. I’m particularly thrilled with this yarn (Nomadic Yarns) and am considering ordering a couple more balls (Mantel and Poolside, I’m looking at you…) — once I’ve knit through a little more of my stash, of course.

*This is a hilarious Canadian expression that basically means putting your head down and work hard at a specific task.