A Fashionable Fishing Hole

A Fashionable Fishing Hole

It began with the yarn this time, which for me, is very unusual;  beautiful Rowan Felted Tweed DK mostly in navy and a variety of other colors that were in my stash.  I have quite a collection of this yarn due to sales, left over from projects, and some from projects that have been reconsidered.  And recently, I’ve made a concerted effort to deal with some of these balls of yarn that have been hanging around now for some time.  So, I set out looking for a pattern that involved multiple colors and, of course, would work up to gauge.  Figuring it was Rowan yarn, I set upon looking for a Rowan pattern predicting I would have quite the choice.  And, I suppose stripes were on my mind as I have been noticing an abundance of striped projects recently flowing through on Ravelry.  Of course, fair isle lurked as a possibility, as well.  When I saw Julia Frank‘s short row pullover with a 70′s graphic theme, I knew that my search was over.

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So, began the fun part, the choosing of the four colors.  I love red and thought that the red would  brighten up the color scheme beautifully and so I purposely set out to place that red in the most conspicuous stripes.

redWell, I was so excited, changing the needle size and stitch count a gazillion times to get the right gauge and was off and running.  I completed the back, blocked it, and left it to dry.  Upon returning home after work ready to begin the front, I stopped short.  It looked exactly like:Mably cardiThree of the four colors were in my lovely British Flag sweater and somehow, the striping (at least the way I had worked it up) looked identical to the above.  As much as I love my “Jack and Me” jacket, I did not want another so I ripped the entire back out and set out again to configure my color scheme.  Hubby to the rescue with his amazing sense of color, and we came up with the below replacing the red only with a teal green:

blue greenSo soft in hue, I thought the colors were really pretty together.  And, admittedly, the redo also gave me more practice at getting the short row skill down to a science.  Back redone, front knitted, sleeves solid, I felt I now had a beautiful work of art with its own identity.

I will admit I again stopped short upon getting to the front neckline.  There was no shaping to it!  Shape the front neckline, not shape the front neckline, that was the choice.  I read what others had done at this conjuncture and most had done some kind of improvising.  I chose to make it like it was figuring  I  like boatneck style and could see how the boat neckline did compliment the swirl-like nature of the pattern.  I am pleased with the effect.

The pattern itself is written clearly enough with some differences in terminology from American published knitting magazine(s) but those differences can easily be interpreted.  However, I never realized how much I have come to rely on the schematic of a design until I saw this:

IMG_3590Well, first off, how wide was the armhole and how wide were the shoulder seams?  How wide was the neckline and how wide were the cuff of the sleeves?   For such a gorgeous book, such magnificent photography, highly respected designers, and  lovely patterns, I was sorely disappointed.  Yes, I was able to complete the schematic by hand writing the measurements by utilizing the gauge and stitch count given within the directions.  It was just the fact that I had to.  Check out a schematic below from Vogue Knitting of a similar shaped garment and you will clearly see the difference.  Such a time savings having all the measurements at a glance!

schmatic VKWhat can I say, I’m just spoiled knitting mostly from those Vogue Knitting patterns.   With no other hardship, this project moved full throttle and here I am at one of my hubby’s fishing holes with a work of art I will have for many years to come.

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‘Keeping Site’ for Knit Wear

‘Keeping Site’ for Knit Wear

This could easily be a three part series:  storage of yarn as part one, the management of the process of work(s) in progress, and the final ‘keeping site’ of finished projects.  And, for me it is that final step in this series that is capturing my attention as the number of successful finished projects continues to grow.

How is it that an over abundance of a good thing could possibly cause a problem in my life?  Or, maybe all obsessions come with challenges.  Well, the challenge I confronted this last weekend had to do with my ever growing collection of hand knits and space in which to store them.  Possibly, it was Spring cleaning that was the motivator.  Whatever the inspiration, I do feel like I may have come up with a solution that meets my happiness in not only the keeping of the sweaters neat and orderly but also, in keeping with minimal clutter.  And, I will admit it was with a bit of good fortune and a creative scrounging around the house whereby I was able to come up with such a solution.  First, my criteria:

  •  one room in which to store
  •  the room itself be neat and functional for overnight guests
  • as much light and space as possible to stay in that room aka minimal clutter and piles
  • easy, quick accessibility of those garments
  • loft or air for sweaters; not piled heavily on top of one another
  • expense free plan

Now, I don’t know about you but “expense free” shopping heads me into the basement.  Now, you would think I would know what was already down there but in a thirty plus year marriage and lots of furniture exchange from one room to the other, children living here and moving, inheriting pieces of furniture from relatives, and/or furniture that hasn’t been moved in ages that becomes part of the scenery over time, one just forgets or doesn’t “see”  exactly what is down there until one starts hunting.  And, sure enough, lo and behold a stroke of amazing luck!  A cedar chest… yes, a cedar chest we bought years, ago for a different house that was holding linens might just be the perfect thing to bring up to the spare bedroom, the chosen room, to begin the process of storage.  After some serious scrubbing, she looked like this.  And, if you get close enough, you can get a waft of that glorious cedar scent.

storage

I was amazed at just how many of my most precious hand knits could fit without stuffing!  Light weight pieces fit on top with my beloved suits and dresses laying perfectly underneath.

IMG_3506Now, I am noticing this room has an especially deep corner behind the entry door.  Hmm… maybe the covered shelf that is in the other room would fit neatly, there I thought.  Perfect!  Here you see the shelving unit covered and further below, you can see how the flap in front can be rolled up attractively.

IMG_3524And, keeping just the seasonal sweaters, rather than focusing on the entire catch, could  provide easy accessibility.

IMG_3509Yup, the seasonal sweaters fit perfectly; easy access and plenty of space for loft and care of each one…

Now, I thought, if I could take over the closet, that would keep the rest of the room free of clutter.   Off to do some negotiating with the hubby.  Deal made, and fabric boxes purchased awhile back, fit perfectly into the back spaces on the existing shelves.  This met the criteria of holding the sweaters that are out of season as the boxes have plenty of room to pack lightly,  keep the projects dust free, the boxes themselves can stack on top of one another and I think are very attractive.   They easily collapse when not in use.  And, did I mention they have little pockets on the outside able to hold labels?

IMG_3512 IMG_3511 IMG_3521Close the closet door, and the out-of-season beauties are out of sight.

A possible alternative could be to place the decorative fabric boxes  on top or under the shelving unit as such:

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In evaluating the plan, I went back to my criteria and I do believe I may have found a system that just may work for me.

And, the lovely cedar chest works perfectly for suitcases and other such purposes for overnight travelers.

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Confirmed

So as not to linger with thoughts of neglect towards poor hubby for too long, THIS gorgeous eye-catching cardigan will be draped over my husband’s back, front, shoulders, opened, closed, in wetness and in dry, in the morning, at noon, and throughout the evenings when next the snow doth fall…

Designed by Martin Storey as seen in The Knitter, Issue 67

Noah's Ark

and the yarn was just ordered!

ITEM: ROWANTWEED OPTIONS: Buckden

ITEM: COLOURSPUN OPTIONS: Winterburn

A Knitter’s Reality Check

A Knitter’s Reality Check

Once upon a time, I knitted an argyle vest for hubby, photographer.  Possibly some fifteen or so years, ago.  We went to a local yarn shop, he chose the yarn, beautiful Donegal Wool, and I knitted him this argyle vest from Vogue Knitting, Fall 1995.  Argyle was “in”, then.  And, he hasn’t taken the vest off, since.  I mean he wears it like a bathrobe in the mornings, as a sweater vest in the afternoons, and as a jacket for errand running in the evenings.  The vest does not come off.  And, with every wearing he comments on his love of it.

Argyle Vest as seen in Ravelry

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I do not think there is one single item of clothing in either one of our wardrobes that gets more wear than this garment.  So, it is no surprise that it has stretched, pilled, misshapen, is stained, and has  yarn literally worn away around the neck’s edge.   Now, a knitted garment can handle some abuse, but when the yarn becomes nonexistent as in no longer there, it is time to step in for the rescue.

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So, after digging down deep into my stash of left over yarns,  I found the remnants from this project.   Tip number one:  Always save a bit of yarn from all of your projects for potential fix-its down the road.  Tip number two:  Using that new yarn and a crochet hook (medium sized), start somewhere.   For me I started at a button.  Pick up a stitch along the edge and crochet a chain stitch into it.  With each stitch, crochet a chain stitch.  For me, I went all the way around and ended up at the buttonhole.  That way, it gave a very nice new edge completely around and you can barely see where the threadbare spot even was.

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Now, this will keep the man happy and he was thrilled with the result.  However,  what this is really telling me is how long it has been since I’ve knitted for my hubby  and how much the man needs a new updated project given to him from me.

 

Sweater Weather

Sweater Weather

Here’s the thing.  Time is sacred.  Yarn is expensive.  I need to get the biggest bang for my buck.  There is an ever increasing list of criteria my pattern choice has to have.  I have talked about them before.  High on the list is its uniqueness, followed by excitement and originality, followed by wearability on my body shape, followed by eye catching, and the list goes on.  Lately, I am noticing an ever increased thought process on the pattern’s versatility.  So, I now adding that to the list.  In being  versatile I am suggesting in ways that the sweaters can be worn with multiple tops and bottoms that already exist in my wardrobe (I do not want a new knitting project to send me off shopping) AND versatile in that they transcend into the different seasons.   Never have I thought about the seasonal criteria more than now as weather patterns are changing and seem to be getting more intense.  I live in a region that experiences (and enjoys) four seasons with a history of those seasons in a fairly predictable cycle.  Lately, however one needs to be prepared for the change of seasons…. and on an ever increasing level…within ONE day!  Now, I hate to go on about the weather, but I am noticing that this single criteria is almost topping my list of pattern choice!

I have a few examples here of recently made projects that are allowing me to pull out for such weather conditions as described, above.  It is actually difficult to tell what time of year these pictures were taken!

This was taken today.  April, 2014  Beautiful sun, but check out the ice chunks still remaining in the Niagara River.  And, it is so cold my nose is red.  The wind is always up along the River but we are well into Spring here in Western New York.  Designer, Tom Scott and I say, Bravo!

Textured Cardi as seen in Ravelry

IMG_3487 IMG_3492 Tom ScottThese were taken a few months, back.  The wind was not near as cold, temperatures may have been the same, snow is clearly on the ground.  Hmm… no ice in the River…

IMG_3400 textured cardi I am able to capitalize on the versatility of the sweater by mixing and matching seasonal clothing making it look either wintery or spring-like.  A home run in my book!

The same can be said for the next project, below.  I love this as much as the above and you will easily be able to see my point of versatility and weather compatibility.  Designer, the amazing Deborah Newton!

Asymmetric Zip as seen in Ravelry

IMG_3239_2 IMG_3244 Zip cardi

and…

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Versatility of a different kind comes when a project can be dressed up or dressed down AND be weather-friendly, as seen below.  Designer, Vladimir Teriokhin and I am a huge fan of all of his designs!

Tourist Cape as seen on Ravelry

basket weave cape

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I continue to explore the whys and wherefores of my choosing a pattern.  Likely, your criteria is different than mine but we might all agree that time and expense are precious commodities and influence all of us in our quest for the perfect next project.

Why Knot

Why Knot

Oh, what a fun project this was and how creative is this designer, Mari Lynn Patrick?  She continues to amaze me with her flawless details and unique designs.  The front and back of this sweater, found in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2011 are shaped a bit differently so that the front will have enough fabric to fold and tie as you wear it.   There are so many details that must be pointed out… How about the chevron pattern is simply made with increases down the middle of the front and back?  That is it, no fancy color blocking or counting of stitches and rows, just an increase down the middle that causes the stripes to pull upward!  How ’bout the fabulous additional ribbing along the sides so that when you pull the knitted ties tight, the sides conform to your shape making it very flattering and figure forming.  How ’bout the  little knitted patches on the inside at the point of the ties where there would be added stress due to the pulling!     How ’bout this is perfect for utilizing stash and one could stripe away in any configuration according to the yarn he/she had?   The ivory here is leftover from my houndstooth suit (I had just enough) and the blue is from an aborted project.  Both yarns are in worsted weight for gauge purposes, however are of different brands.   I was wondering how that would work and with a little blocking, ended up not being an issue.  And, how ’bout this design is easy to fit due to the ties that can be the final adjustment at the end?  Now, I will admit due to the fact that the front and back are slightly differently shaped does cause some element of surprise to the general structure of the garment but that might be the only draw back.  This pattern just might have to be revisited down the road as I continue to knit and create more stash.

Initially, it seems odd to me that most of our photo shoots are shot near and/or around water.  I do not consider myself a water girl, nor a beach gal, nor a sun bather.   Then, I realize  how we do find bodies of water a naturally serene environment and they seem to beckon us with their beauty.  I might also add the fact that there are an abundance of waterways accessible to us and we haven’t yet been to the most known, Niagara Falls… nor Lake Erie… nor Letchworth State Park!   So, with that and with inspiration screaming to me from the vivid striping of the blue and ivory, ‘Why Knot’ head to a fishing hole my hubby is familiar with, The Blue Water Marina?

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Snaps and Cackle may put a little Pop into your Knits

I really do wear my hand knits and the wearing of them  is where the rubber hits the road.  Believe it or not, my goal  is to NOT notice them when I am wearing them (aside from responding to  their compliments, of course).  If they fit and “wear” comfortably, then, in my opinion, they are a successful garment and will likely be pulled for regular wear.  If I notice the garment or if I notice I am “playing” with its fit, for example I feel some sort of pulling, or mis-aligning, curling, or the like, I likely will remember that and not pull them, again.  So, in my mind I have to revisit it or it gets a lot of shelf time.  Examples of such fix-its are from simple to a bit more complicated but, in all cases, puts the piece right back into the line up for another happy, carefree wearing.  And, after all, the purpose to knit these spectacular fashion statements is to WEAR THEM!

 ON SNAPS

Often such a fix is simply a snap sewn here or there.   These snaps keep the neckline round and, to me was the designer’s intention, not to mention looks most flattering when wearing.

round neckline

bolero

This has become a go-to garment for just about any weather condition but I was noticing I was fussing with the fabric under the zipper.  So, here you see a snap to keep that fabric from curling and now, it is flat and notice-free by me.

fabric flat

 

zipper cardi

This British Flag jacket (below) needed a snap to keep from falling off my shoulders.  I didn’t want my fix to alter any part of the shaping and design of this fabulous and often worn piece.  Looks like I had tried a hook and eye, first.  And, now I remember the hook and eye would not stay closed.

closure

Jack

Here is an option.  Rather than button holes, use snaps!

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Spring jacket

Today, I am in the process of removing buttons off a project and will sew in a snap for its closure.  The buttons were too large and clanking causing distraction and fumbling.  No picture, yet.

ON SEAM BINDING AND TWILL TAPE

Seam binding is a knitters’ must.  Are your projects stretching and pulling around the neck?  Take five minutes, sewer’s seam tape, hand sew it in place, and your sweater is back into the cycle of wearing.  I notice pulling existing mostly on oversized projects where there is a lot of fabric and heft.  My favorite fashion statement is with these large oversized pieces with skinny pants underneath so I am glad I know of this fast and easy fix-it strategy.

twill tape around hood

This little bit of seam binding is reinforcing a spot where I predicted there would be a lot of wear and tear due to its being pulled on and off.

seam tape

poncho

This is the same piece as above with the snap replacement rather than buttonholes but here you can see the twill tape.

around neckline

And, this piece was just completed and as I was photographing it, I FOUND A MISTAKE, hence the cackle.  IMG_0327

ON ADAPTATION

I love this braided little sweater however the bulky cowl was just too much for me.  So, I simply folded it in half and sewed it in place.

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braided

I would call the below project a serious redesigning of a pattern and a serious effort to “make this work”  as no matter WHAT I tried, I could not get this jumper to stay up as a halter.  I remember thinking the model in the magazine must have glued hers to her body.  I certainly did not want to waste my long time effort in knitting this to then scrap it, so the one halter strap (in the pattern) became two shoulder straps.  Not only did I need to redesign, but you can see some serious appliqué of seam binding and twill tape to keep this in its shape.   (Sorry about the photographs, I have since learned to not use a flash.)

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ON PADDING STITCHES

This fix-it was a little more extensive than most.  As I was wearing my fair isle jacket (as seen in the cover photo of this blog) I was becoming increasingly unhappy with the collar.  Not noticeable to the general public, but really annoying to me was the fact that the lining of the collar was not lying flat against the top fair isle part.  It felt bulky and puckery, just wrong.  So, off came the collar.  I had forgotten that it was attached by picking up stitches around the neckline, so with the removal of it, I had live stitches.  OK… so, after the stitches were picked up and bound off, I noticed the lining was not aligned to the fair isle part.  OK, block.  After the blocking, I felt the collar was a bit flimsy and I wanted it to have enough body to stand up or mold when I wore.  So, I found some muslin and sewed in padding stitches for stability and mobility to be turned over like any lapel or collar.

fair isle collar

padding Perfect.  Then, I sewed the collar back onto the jacket and the lining is flat under the collar and yet has enough body for me to adjust, accordingly.  Definitely better, but again the truth will be in the wearing.

improved collar

Now, I’m off to fix the mistake I’ve just found.  Ugh…

 

 

 

Flip it, Ladies!

Flip it, Ladies!

Bravo to Tom Scott for his ingenious sculptured cardigan!

Oh, wait!  Maybe, it’s a shrug.

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Is that the neckline or is it the bottom edge?

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Are the directions from top to bottom or bottom to top?  Who ever thought to design a cardigan and then wear it upside down?  Would it work?  Why does it work?  These are questions I had and had to have answered.   It’s almost like I wanted to prove that this idea of flipping a cardigan and wearing it upside down (or according to Vogue Magazine, right side up) would not work!  And how lovely to prove myself wrong and end up with such an amazing project!

I stuck with the yarn that was required to achieve the same texture and fabric as seen in the magazine, Vogue Knitting Holiday 2012.  The lovely cables and large bobbles give the panels a very durable feel and thickness that really pulls off the landscape of the sweater.  The sleeves are plain stockinette stitch that are tight and modern, the perfect juxtaposition for the bulky, wide body.  One does knit the garment from the neckline down (as non-traditional cardi) and follows only one set of numbers as if one size fits all.  That said, I did take time for the gauge making sure that I obtained the measurements according to the pattern.  It was pretty smooth sailing, bulky yarn does knit up quickly, and the bobbles, even though time consuming, are sparse in number.  One does need to know how to reverse all directions for shaping, make buttonholes, and sew seams.  There are two buttons required, however not mentioned on the materials list.  No problem for me, I just went to my button jar.  Also, the pattern at the waistband said k2,p2 and I thought it was odd to begin a rib sequence that would have had the 2 stitches of purl at the edge on the right side where no where else followed that pattern so I reversed the pattern to match the rest of the ribbing.

It was really weird setting in the sleeves. I set them in so the sleeve seam is at the underarm when worn this way:

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as I suspect this is the way I will mostly wear this garment.  Now, when you flip the cardi, that seam is then in full view opposite from the underarm.  You can see that best in the first picture now that I am pointing it out.  If you sew the seam neatly the seam may not be worthy of mention, however I am very picky about finishing touches. Now, I’m wondering if the sleeve seam could be sewn anywhere and if there is a better location for it. I’m pondering this. Using the k1 every row for a selvage is very helpful for an invisible seam as well as focusing on neat increases.  And, there is always the option of knitting the sleeves in the round.

I did need two extra balls of yarn which by some miracle, when I went requesting more yarn from my yarn source, they had the exact number left I needed in the same dye lot.  Running out of yarn is most definitely a knitter’s nightmare.

The project is not blocked to keep its highly textural appeal and worn purposely slouchy for a designer look.

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Again, here it is as a basic cardi (below) to show you the possibilities and the ingenuity of the designer.

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back of “basic cardi”

textured cardi

This was photographed along the beautiful Niagara River in early March.

Project as seen on Ravelry with pattern and yarn information

TIP:   for those of you who are trying to figure this out:  The first and last two photos are as basic cardigan.  The six photos in the middle are worn as shown in the magazine with the basic cardigan flipped.  I never thought it would work, either, if that helps you feel better.  I was drawn in by the entire notion (as said, above.)

FASHION TIP:  Wearing a long under layer such as a tee or camisole under a short layer will give your look a long, lean line.

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