The Gyro Experience

I thought I could do it. A test knit. Test a pattern for accuracies before publication. I counted the weeks, predicted how much time I could dedicate to knitting each of those week . . . and calculated. Yep, I could do it, I thought and then . . . nope, notta, nothing. The due date came and went. Much like one fails at fostering and adopts, I failed with this test knit and knitted a beauty.

I first saw this design called Gyro on fb. It immediately caught my attention, as to me, it looked like the model was wearing a sort of shawl over a knitted dress. Oh, I thought, that shawl would constantly be falling off my shoulder. Annoying. I looked twice and came to realize it was a one-picee affair and immediately, my love affair. All my knitting plans shifted, the search for yarn (in the house) ensued, and I became a test knitter for the designer.

Linda Marveng‘s patterns are sophisticated and not for the faint of heart. Small needles, yards and yards of yarn, intricate cables; her mucho finishing details are abundant. Her patterns are thorough in direction and Linda, herself is very approachable and appreciative of all suggestions to her patterns. (Within the time frame, I was able to help with a thing or two.) And, when I realized the deadline could not be met, she was very understanding of that, as well.

Well, in life, who knows what the next day is going to bring. And, in knitting, what is planned sometimes goes south.

I’m all about utilizing stash, especially leftover balls of yarn. This pattern offered two opportunities to do that.

Yardage figured out, tissue paper pattern made to help visualize the shape the knitted piece needed to be, my needles in hand and soon learned my gauge was off.

I had to ditch the scottish tweed for the sleeve sections. Could the felted tweed be used for the sleeves?

Yup, almost, as while the stitch gauge was right on, my row gauge was off causing me to need more yarn than what the pattern called for. No problem, I thought. I see all kinds of felted tweed still available. What I didn’t realize was the discontinuation of THIS color and two of the sleeve sections had already been completed. Ravelry to the rescue.

Reaching out to the very few Ravelers who had this dye lot in their stash, I received a friendly and helpful response. She said she could help me but to be prepared as, in her experience, dye lots look very different with this line of yarn. I received her bundle, and to my dismay, she was correct, and attempted some sort of blending by alternating knitting two rows of one dye lot, then two rows of the other on the last two sections of the sleeves. You can see the result, below.

Well, turns out I fell in love with the ‘striping’ and had enough of the darker dye lot to be creative on the solid pieces. So, well . . . you know. (When you think of ripping out as opportunity for more knitting, it doesn’t feel so bad.)

When it came to the sewing, it became strategic to make sure the striping lined up at the sides, and across the back and the front. You can make out the subtle striping, here that does just that.

Here’s a better view.

The cable section ended up being knitted in Tinde, a delightful new yarn to me, written about, here. It is of a lavender hue that shows its magnificence in the light of day.

The rest? Just a lot of knitting. The only change I made to the pattern was to create a selvage by knitting the first stitch of every row. I used the twin stitch method for short rows, and I did not find the need or want to block.


Oh, and one final thing . . . this is my first photo shoot with Sally, my iphone tripod. You can see the remote in my hand in the photo, below. Let’s just say, from beginning to end, it was quite the ride to create this epic look.

Label Lovers, Anyone?

I love knitting from past issues of VK magazines. And, it appears I am not the only one as seen by the continuing invitation threads posted on Ravelry from the Vogue Knitting group. These invites are meant to inspire and motivate and they indeed do, not to mention they are just plain fun sharing enthusiasm with other knitters who have a similar passion.

Recently, an invitation entitled Label Lovers caught my attention. The idea was to choose a designer pattern from a past issue. There was considerable discussion at the onset as to what constituted a designer pattern. I just knew I love labels. Whether on wine bottles or on printed bands around skeins of yarn or on designer wear, labels, themselves are little works of art to me. Memorable is the word I have used when choosing patterns and while I was perusing possible patterns (posted with the invite), designer James Coviello caught my attention. His patterns have lovely, feminine details; the little short-sleeved jackets drew me in. I wondered why I had never knitted anything designed by him before and figured it was time so I chose pattern #21 from Vogue Knitting Fall, 2008.

Frustrating for me, however is how these older patterns use yarns that have long been discontinued. So, I was not surprised that this was the case. This forced the search for replacement yarn. Even in understanding weight, textures, ply, and fibers it is my experience that yarns simply knit up differently even having similar characteristics. Two unfamiliar yarns, Universal Yarn Deluxe Chunky Tweed and Universal Yarn Eden Silk were held double throughout the pattern I wanted to knit.

What a bit of luck I had! When looking these yarns up to find their characteristics, I wondered, fingers crossed, if perhaps anyone might have them in their yarn stashes. (How fortunate are we that we have Ravelry and some people post their stashes there.) And, pay dirt. Two separate stashes, I found each yarn and in ample amounts.

Would they look good together? I gambled and here is the result. The solid grey held with the purplish tweed make a sort of marled look.

The knitting of this was fast and easy, seams crocheted together, my preferred method,

one row buttonholes so buttons do not pop out and the buttons themselves are sewn on with split yarn. I did add seam tape around the neck to prevent stretching.

This photo shoot was back in February and the sweater hasn’t been worn, due to our home bound decree. How I look forward to enjoying it once lockdown lifts.

The project as seen in Ravelry has a few tips regarding yarn overs. Oh, and stay tuned for “LL2” (label lover 2) later this year. Here is a sneak peak.

Happy blessed Mother’s Day, everyone!

Modern Argyle

Utilizing a quiet day during lockdown, I am catching up on writing about a project completed a few months, ago. When I received my Vogue Knitting Holiday, 2019 and excitedly turned the pages to see the new designs, which has been a total thrill for me for over 40 years, I turned to this, #07 called Parallelogram designed by Laura Zukaite.

Under my breath I said, you’ve got to be kidding. Argyle? Didn’t I knit argyle 30 years, ago? Continuing turning the pages, the argyle stayed with me. I’ve been in conversation many a time with knitters talking on how we choose the projects we choose. I have noticed that one technique I consider is if the garment is memorable. I very much liked the modern twist of the cropped length and the way the diagonal lines of the argyle finished around the shoulders. Upon further noticing, I realized I had the perfect yarn in my scrap stash. (I’ve talked extensively about stash here and again, here as examples. Another word I use is remnants.) The grey is a workhorse yarn, a classic wool from Patons that actually was a hand me down yarn from another knitter. I figured the other colors simply had to be of the same weight.

Have you noticed the variety of techniques designers use of knitting fabric, then adding embellishment over that fabric? Appliqué, perhaps? Such is the case in this beauty I knitted many years, ago by Norah Gaughan, from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 1994. Oh, how I wished I either still had this or had taken a photo of me in it.

Recently, I saw this exquisite number by Alexandra Davidoff from VK Spring/Summer 2019 working cross stitch with an embroidery needle after knitting a grid-type fabric and yes, it is now in my queue.

Plaids are often created by knitting horizontal striped fabric, then adding the vertical lines of a plaid in duplicate stitch, again with an embroidery needle. My argyle came to life in exactly this way. First, the diamonds of the pattern using bobbins were knitted.

A tip on the usage of those bobbins: shaking or simply holding up the knitted fabric after a row allows the bobbins to dangle freely and they literally spin untangling themselves.

And, then the diagonal lines were applied over the stitches. Tips on duplicate stitch:

  • Use your thumb to guide yarn over stitch for fullest coverage.
  • Keep the work loose. When you pull tight, the yarn sinks in and the coverage is minimal (ugly).
  • Work from the bottom and go up.
  • Focus on not splitting yarns.
  • Keep slow.
  • Weave in ends, sew the sweater together.

This is a design that has a center that is to fit within the top and bottom of the garment. To assure that this would happen in my sweater, I paid particular attention to row gauge. See that little blue marker?

To center the argyle pattern, I had to add an inch below and above what the pattern stated. I only knew to do this because I knew my row gauge and the length I needed this to be. If I had not done this, my sweater would have been 2 inches too short.

Other than that, this project was clear sailing and is easy to wear. The photo shoot was in the neighborhood about 1 1/2 months, ago.

As seen on my Project Page on Ravelry

Plan, Make, Finish, Wear

This is a question some of us, as knitters, ask ourselves. Are we wearing our hand knits? We ask that question for the sole purpose of giving ourselves a reality check. If the idea is to be adding a beautiful hand knit to our wardrobe, truly are we? This is essentially the honesty factor as to why we do what we do and whether we are succeeding in pulling off the look that we were after by knitting these garments in the first place. We all know, no matter what the creative process or how capable we are in our craft, some projects ‘work’ while others do not.

One such knitter has taken this particular topic to task and back in January of 2019 offered an opportunity via a thread on Ravelry to post what she calls ‘street-wear’ photos. Street-wear photos are candid shots of us in our hand knits, in our every day lives, doing whatever it is we do, at work or at play. And, then to post those photos on the thread.

I was smitten with this question because I have always thought and have said . . . yes, I do wear my projects and very much consider them a part of my wardrobe. I have even been known to say, I shop very little for clothes because finishing a garment is like adding a new piece to my wardrobe. So, I remembered this sort of self-monitoring opportunity and as I traveled through this last year, thought, I am going to test my own statement. Not sure on how I was I going to get the photo, I figured I could lean on selfies as a last resort. Of course, I was thrilled when I found some candid shot that had been taken of some activity or function I was at and found that I just happened to be in the background . . . with a hand knit on!

The below is a one year effort. The photos are not necessarily becoming (boo) but they do illustrate that my hand knits are my wardrobe. I have paired the ‘every day shot’ with a photo that was taken during the original photo shoot so you can more clearly see the garment. The top photos or photos on the right are from the ‘posed’ while the others are the recent, candid ones. All of these projects can be found on my Ravelry page and are discussed in full length on my website.

From left to right, I am at the Science Museum in a celebration, gift giving a baby sweater (I knitted), and in NYC for work with colleagues.

In the second photo, I am at a Christmas party for Habitat for Humanity, difficult to see, but I am in the back with my beautiful hoodie glam, one of my all time favorites.

a selfie and working a job fair . . .

preparing for a presentation and at the airport . . .

The photo on the right is from a knitting guild meeting. I am actually working on the Messoni that you see, above. The photo on the left was ten years, ago and our very first hubby and I did together ‘on location’. (See fashionscape.) Can’t believe I still grab for this sweater to wear.

In the ‘everyday’ shot, I’m out and about in the rain and to its right, at the Art Gallery for a night out.

And, possibly the inspiration for this post was this photo below, right, that was snapped recently by a dear friend who exhibited such joy when I asked her to photograph this.

To readers I suggest considering such questions. “Am I wearing my hand knits? Is that my intention? What keeps my knits on the shelves as opposed to being worn? Am I making intentional moves to change what is not working?” Posing such questions to yourself and answering them honestly may help you to become the knitter you want to become.


Making Connections

This morning, I am indulging in reminiscing. Perhaps because it is a typical snowy morning in January, the likes that have been unusually rare this winter. Or perhaps it is because I have recently recaptured my mojo for knitting and feel a need to keep my writing in sync or perhaps I was inspired by a recent thread on Ravelry. It could also be a good time for reflection as we head into 2020 perhaps with ideas of projects for the year and goals for completion.

I am thinking about sewing. The years and years of sewing I did long before I became a knitter. I remember waking up one day during my fifth grade summer and asking to make a dress. Mom pointed to a pile of newspapers and said, “There! Use all you need.” I said, “No, I mean with fabric.” And, so it began that I was sent to a neighbors who gathered up supplies and time and helped her daughter and I sew our first dress. Well, the experience stuck and through the years, the basement of childhood home turned into a sewing room, begging for fabric was my second name, and learning about construction through trial and error was my passion.

Today, as the flakes are falling, I am thinking of my Aunt who also became an inspirational sewing teacher to me and I am quietly thanking her. She taught me zipper installation. This is taken from my mom’s scrapbook.

I would barter with my mom. An hour of piano practice for a yard of fabric. I became quite good on the piano earning me an opportunity to perform through the years. But, of course, I was much happier with the dress with the puffy sleeves than I made for my performance, here.

Now, I’m thinking about my sister and how I sewed for her. Lots of things, almost always in a sweet mini print or soft plaid. She is here with Pierre.

When Ravelry’s Vogue Knitting group began a thread about sewing asking for people to share, it brought up these memories. I went searching for my personal photos that had an item of my sewing in them and that led me to search for electronic photos of patterns. Long gone are mine. My memory served me well and how fun to find this pairing. I am in the back, the jacket elsewhere, I loved this outfit sewn in a pale blue cordless corduroy. I remember wanting the pants to keep their creases so I added a very narrow row of stitching at the center fold of the pant to help keep the look I wanted.

I also found this pattern in the search and so wished I had a photograph of this outfit. I’ve admired Betsey Johnson for years and years.

Prom anyone? I would have cropped out my date but we were so cute. Now, when I shared this on Ravelry, the conversation went towards the car and I never once noticed the make, only the fact that my date opened the door for me. I do not remember the pattern’s resource but very much remember my jumpsuit that would probably be more ‘in’ today than it was then but I sure loved it.

I very much remember that my wedding dress was designer, Albert Nipon so finding that pattern was a cinch.

Through the years, I sewed for countless people. Button down shirts, bowling style shirts, church suits, children’s clothes, and probably the most intense project was a traditional wedding dress for a relative, the fit was perfect.

Funny, but here is my attempt this past Christmas decorating the Christmas tree. From ornaments to ribbon, a sort of dress for the tree?

The connection that the thread on Ravelry was making was the recollection of how the Vogue Knitting magazines would pair up hand knits with garments that were from sewing patterns. We appreciated the opportunity to sew the clothes that we saw in the gorgeous photographs of the magazines. We appreciated the guidance in being our own fashion plate and we appreciated the inspiration of instilling creativity in the reader/knitter. Does this look familiar to any of you? Here is how the knit/sewing opportunity was provided.

I wondered what the reader might get from this post? While certainly a walk down memory lane for me taking pause to appreciate, I thought it could serve as a reminder to thank those who have helped you along your journey. Or, to realize the connection one craft has to another to appreciate from whence your skill has come. Maybe, there is humor somewhere in here or something that strikes familiar that will allow you to recollect something or someone from your past.

I wish everyone a happy new year and a most successful year in crafting and project completion no matter what the skill, activity, or passion.