Last year, The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo brought in designer, Heather Lodinsky, to teach a skill on one of her designs. The pattern was her two-tone slip stitch cable pullover and the skill was using slip stitches in cable work. In my experience in knitting, I had not encountered slip stitches to be used for the design of a garment, only to be done along the edges of knitted pieces. So, I was quick to take on the pullover with the Guild and it led me to do a self-investigation of slip stitches, in general.
For a project that pretty much flew off the needles, it is interesting that I have so much to say about it. I have lots to say not due to any pattern issue or yarn dissatisfaction, but rather the changes I made in how I constructed it. From long tail cast on to sewing on the seam binding along the back neck, I feel these changes led to its success and will lead to the garment’s longevity.
I think I have more questions than answers after finishing this project. This will create lingering in my mind. The topic is crochet. This is definitely the most challenging project I have made in crochet as it involved gauge, fit, shaping, and color changing within a row, none of which I am sure I did correctly and none of which I’ve ever done, before. Also, technique in sewing the crochet pieces together. What I knew however is that this pattern would be a great way to use up some remnant stash with its offering of color possibilities. I have plenty of remnants from past projects of small bits of color however I knew I did not have enough of one color for the main body. Purchasing only three skeins and using those scraps, I thought this a great way to stretch yardage. I did go with the yarn used in the pattern for this main color (MC), a silver grey filatura-di-crosa- zarina-chine.
It was a hot summer. Record-breaking in fact, in our neck of the woods. Knitting is at a minimum for me during the summer due to heat, not to mention the warmth of the summer sun is a constant force of beckoning. Who doesn’t want to be outside during short summer months? On the other hand, the knitter in me is always looking to move forward with the stash and there is the cool of the evenings.
I thought linen; lightweight and stays in the theme of summer. I’ll pull the linen from the stash to work up. I’ve had this bundle for a number of years, had never knitted with linen before and wanted to give it a try. I had purchased it for a darling top that caught my attention with it’s open stitch weave and detached cowl. It is amazing to me how an experienced knitter can always find new things to take on. Between the new yarns, new-fangled stitches, and that never-ending flow of patterns, there is ALWAYS opportunity for taking on something new.
As Grandmother, I was recently invited to the DC area to babysit grandchildren while very intent parents set up house for their temporary move. (no photos because I never knew how to take care of young ones and be a photographer at the same time)
Every so often you hear from a friend from the past. This was the case the day I received a lovely message from a colleague who had retired a few years before me suggesting a get together. She thought of me in particular as, like all of us seniors who are trying to keep our bodies and minds moving, she wanted to learn something new. She must have remembered that I crocheted as her suggestion was that we meet, chat of course, and I teach her how to crochet. Perfect, I thought.
The Knitting Guild of Greater Buffalo is not only a friendly organization where one meets people who are passionate about knitting but the Guild is also very serious in its purpose and programming. The two ladies deemed program chairs leave no stone unturned in providing ideas for programs and seeing those ideas to fruition. It was in this way I became aware of Buffalo native and knitwear designer Heather Lodinsky and her two-tone cable method as this was the program topic at one of our monthly meetings.
Call me obsessed. Call me intense. Call me stubborn. This sweater, Renaissance designed by Teva Durham was NOT photographing to its fullest potential and it was driving me mad until I realized . . . oh, dear . . . it’s the SWEATER!! My thinking . . . What was it? The body fit perfectly, the neckline moved about in a ruffly kind of way as intended and certainly appropriate for its name sake. The sleeves . . . dramatic, as seen in the pattern. Wait. The sleeves. The sleeves. Something about the sleeves. Yes, they are long but that is the style of the pattern. Oh, wait . . . what about their width? That could be it. If I made them narrower. . . If I make the sleeves narrower, the cap to fit more snug at the top, that might give the sweater an overall better look. Wait. The sleeves. Maybe, just a little shorter. For comfort sake. Wait! How ’bout three-quarter length keeping the essence of the pattern? I notice I get excited, probably because I have a plan to resolve what seems to be ailing me about this garment.
A retirement gift, a plaque from the District where I worked, beckons me. It is as if it can talk and recall; that plaque with the Varsity letter. I hear students’ voices, excited anticipation in the air, their endless desire for learning. It speaks my tongue and reminds me about lesson planning into wee hours. It sounds with the hustle bustle of school life: hallways all abuzz, meetings with teachers and/or parents, the frustrations voiced and the sharing of successes of each day. One glance at this wall plaque of mounted school letter and personalized engraved plate, now hanging on a wall in my yarn room, does all of that every time I look at it.
First and foremost in choosing a project, that project must be wearable in my lifestyle and go with the existing pieces I have in my wardrobe. Of course, I am always looking at new trends in fashion, as I would like to think that even in retirement, I can continue on this quest of always looking fashion-forward. But, what I have realized is that not all the pieces I intended on knitting are appropriate to wear in retirement and that I need to tweak my intentions for better purpose once knitted. In an effort to get my yarn and pattern stash aligned to my lifestyle of retirement, I’ve had to do some reconsidering of patterns and re-shifting of yarns. This has encouraged me to catalog remnants into their respective weights. The more I play with my yarn, the more ideas I am getting and the more possibilities I seem to muster. While this is exciting and certainly mindful of utilizing all of the materials I have here at home, I continuously need to remind myself to have patience and that I will eventually be able to act on many of these ideas.
This process has me researching in places I didn’t even know patterns existed. Such places as VogueKnitting.com > free pattern tab or LionBrand.com > free patterns. Maybe, most yarn companies with websites have free pattern availability. A function on Ravelry that has become most helpful is the pattern tab and its settings on the left-hand margin with specific criteria, being able to drill down to what you are looking for thus making pattern research more expedient. Also, the function on Ravelry called queue has never been as helpful to me as it is right now as I can keep my pattern ideas listed there so as not to forget. Well, one thing led to another and pretty much this is how I found ‘Trench Coat’ by Wilma Peers, a pattern from Vogue Knitting’s online pattern store. Not a free pattern, but on sale. I literally paid pennies.
I am drawn to the unexpected when knitting. Or the juxtaposition of opposites which oftentimes leads to the unexpected. For example a cardigan that can be flipped upside down or right side up or glamorous yarn knitted into a hoodie, or pleats in super bulky weight yarn. When I think of a trench coat, I think of rain or wind and in a twill type of fabric. So, the fact that this pattern was suggesting knitting a Trench Coat was highly interesting to me. Hmm. . . I thought. A trench coat for blue skies! Complete with lapels and pocket flaps and what appeared to be a beautiful contrast edging, I had to go for it.
Then I noticed the suggested yarn. Acrylic. 100% acrylic. Oh, boy my mind began racing with all the thoughts of what could go wrong with this project in this yarn. On the other hand, being so inexpensive I thought I would give it a try and when all fails, simply start over with yarn I knew more about.
So, I began and learned the half linen stitch. This half linen stitch, formed with slip stitches and yarn carried on the outside of the work, creates a woven looking fabric. Being of bulky weight (by title only as the yarn itself is as light as a feather), knitting the pieces really just motored along. No button holes, no pockets (what you see are just flaps added on at the end), this was really a breeze to knit. 5 pattern pieces (back, 2 fronts, 2 sleeves, and the collar which is picked up from the neck and knitted) and it was time for my favorite part of any project, the finishing touches. Bands were fairly easy to knit up the front however I had to readjust the number of stitches I picked up (way less than what was called). And, for some unknown reason, the side seams were not cooperating as I felt they should. A minor bit of blocking helped that matter and truthfully I was surprised acrylic even responded to blocking. The collar edging as well as the flap edging was downright fun to do. One has to pick up the stitches neatly as when the lapel is wide open flips to the front with the raw edge to the outside.
Well, I kept waiting for epic fail of this project. I got to the end and to my surprise, I have what I think, is a beautiful, trendy trench that can easily be worn with today’s shapes underneath.
If you are a reader of Hollyknits, you know I’ve been talking about a wedding cape I recently made for a daughter of a friend. Also, a former student of mine! Since it is a high risk thing to knit for another, I share tips on how to do so, here. I talk about details of gift giving, here. This post, while on the same project is moving away from the event and focusing on the knitting of the cape, itself.
It is kind of funny how I am so opinionated about capes and shawls. Some people interchange these words in identification. I see such vast differences in them. To me, a cape has coat-like qualities typically with closures, sometimes with slits for arms, sometimes as pullovers. Shawls I see are more like a scarf, typically in a geometric shape like a triangle or rectangle and meant to be wrapped around a body. Truthfully, I have such a vast like of one and dislike of the other. This is a picture that Mom, bride, and I initially saw of the cabled cape wanted for this wedding.
Designed by Michael Kors and found in Vogue Knitting, Fall 2007. It is a pattern that is worked from the ribbing at the bottom up to the neckline decreasing along the way at key points along the raglan seams in both front and back. All of us loved the pattern especially the cable texture and I particularly liked the double breasted closure. I appreciate the detail of stockinette stitch around the neckline below the ribbed collar. The ribbed collar, k1p1 is wider in back and is shaped using short rows. The short row method I find easiest is called the short row shadow wraps. Directions can be found, here. The bride wanted a single row of buttons along the edge. She knew she wanted the cape in navy blue.
The beautiful part about knitting a cape is that there are minimal measurements needed. In fact, the pattern did not even have a schematic. When I perused the other finished projects utilizing this pattern in Ravelry, I noticed a wide assortment of yarn that was used from sport weight to aran. This would significantly change the fabric, weight, and could change the size of the garment if you didn’t alter the stitch count. The yarn that is used to knit the example in the image above was no longer available, however looking at the content of the yarn, considering the size garment we wanted, and the venue in which it would be worn, we decided upon this lovely DK, a blend of merino, silk, and cashmere.
I used as large a needle as I dared with a sport weight to create springy and stretchy qualities while maintaining a luxurious cabled fabric. Being that I was fitting another, I felt the elasticity of the fabric would lend itself some leeway in fit. Also, by being elastic, I felt the fabric might hold position better around the shoulders and be more comfortable for movement sake.
The pattern has a mistake regarding the placement of the markers. When you become familiar with the cable pattern, you can see that the double decreases need to happen outside of the middle p2k2p2. In other words, you need to place the markers differently than indicated in the pattern. This is of utmost importance as all of the shaping occurs at the markers and the pattern of cables and ribs follow.
Minor alterations for a better fit was made for the bride. Buttons were purchased by Mom, sewn on by me. We discussed the ease of removing the pearl buttons and changing to a different button to give a more casual look for future wear. I did use the one row buttonhole method and I did sew a snap at the collar and just above the rib along the bottom to hold the overlap of fabric in place and purposely secure to not dangle below the hemline.
My saga now ends, fulfilling in every way and clearly the bride and groom are off to a very happy start!
photo credit to Amy Paulson/photography