Saturday, April 28, 2018


This project was born out of necessity. I was making a fair isle sweater for a young and beautiful woman and after my success with the ElkMeadow pullover was feeling unreasonably self confident. I decided to re-knit a pattern that I made almost 30 years ago from an old French magazine, this one, remember?

And I picked the blue women's sweater:

According to the pattern it is knit bottom up in 4 parts with a round yoke at the end. I decided to recalculate everything and make it from the top down with short rows (Japanese short rows of course, because I LOVE how they look). So I was working on it like crazy, calculating and recalculating, trying it on myself (even though its future owner is taller than me), making sure that it is not too tight and you can move your arms up and down. 
Finally, I divided the work in 4 parts and started working on the back, because I wanted to keep the seems (the yarn Rowan Pure Wool 4 ply - stretches a lot when worked in the round). And that was the moment when I finally realized that my jog - the place where one row ends and a new one starts - is right on the front. Oops!
It was supposed to be at the back, I swear! I planned it all carefully and it was supposed to be at the back. Yet, lo and behold, here it was, on the front of the sweater that I wanted to give away.
What would you do in a situation like this? Cry? Yell at yourself? Unravel the whole thing and start all over?
Well, I did none of the above. I started a new project instead.
My goal this year is to use up as much yarn as possible from my stash. For the yoked sweater I was using the leftovers from Juno, Sunshine, and Blue Improvisation. For my new project I decided to use up some leftovers of Rowan Fine Tweed.
By the way, the wooden bowl on the picture is made out of a tree fallen after the hurricane Irma. Isn't it beautiful?

You can see the bowl better here.
I call this cardigan Asbury because I incorporated the colorwork pattern from Martin Storey’s  short feminine cardigan from Ravelry (it is a free pattern, go and download!). What I liked about this cardigan from the very beginning was a successful combination of a traditional colorwork pattern with a modern silhouette. At first I wanted to make it for myself, short, and with different colors (and I might do it one day).

Yet, desperate times – desperate measures. I needed to start something that I’d be able to finish before our departure from Florida and I needed it fast. The future owner of this cardigan is an extremely practical person with a traditional taste so from the start I knew that my cardigan had to be longer, preferably with pockets and v-neck. Then I looked at my stash of Rowan Fine tweed. The only color that could be used as the main was light blue (Nappa): there were 10 balls of it. Since I had just few balls in other colors the cardigan simply couldn't be done all in fair isle, the sleeves had to be knit in one color.
Playing with colors and choosing the combinations was the best part, so much fun! I changed the colorwork pattern a little bit: started and finished every stripe with two, not one, row of the main stripe color. And I added one row in the middle of the brown stripe because I wanted more of the greenish-blue color to be seen.

All that settled I started working and promptly finished it.
The whole process was a lot of fun. This cardigan was made flat, without steeks, to avoid excessive bulkiness, especially in the armholes.
I documented my work in minute details because I am thinking about making one like this again in different colors and with different colorwork pattern since I still have quite a bit of Rowan Fine tweed leftovers and they work perfectly for it. If you want to duplicate my experience (and for additional pictures), go to my Ravelry page where I wrote down all the numbers.
Meanwhile, I finished one more project that I haven’t written about.

Probably, because there is not much to write – no drama, no big mistakes, or huge disappointments. This one – Reflection by Kim Hargreaves - was done mostly while knitting in public or watching TV. It is all plain stockinett st. Again more pictures and details on my Ravelry page.
I had the same yarn as in the book so I just followed directions. The result is lovely and I highly recommend the pattern. As for the yarn - Rowan Alpaca Merino DK - the jury is still out. This yarn has an uncanny ability to snag and becomes exceedingly stretchy when wet: I had to be super accurate while blocking the sweaters parts so I wouldn’t get the final product 2 sizes bigger than needed. Unfortunately, I still have quite a lot of this yarn in my stash (remember, last year I bought all the yarn that I could get?). We’ll see what happens with it.
And what happened to the yoked pullover from the beginning of this story? So far, nothing much.
Desperately seeking a solution for my jog problem, I joined a knitting group on Facebook. There you can ask a question and then get answers for one hour (after an hour the group admin closes the comment section). And I got a lot of comments from other knitters – who would have thought this group is so popular?! All comments could be divided in three categories:
1.The jog is almost invisible, don’t fret, just finish. Easy solution, I might follow this path eventually. Yet, I don't think that this sweater can be gifted as is and I doubt that I'll ever wear it myself knowing about its imperfection.
2. A list of videos and tutorials of how to knit an invisible jog. Yet, my problem was that I already had a jog and wanted to disguise it somehow so to follow this advice I had to unravel the whole thing, watch the videos/tutorials, and start all over again avoiding making a jog.
3. Some clever recommendations on how to cover my mistake: wear a scarf strategically on one shoulder, put some buttons on the jog, do double stitch over etc.
Which solution is the best? What do you think?
For now, I just moved on to my next project. I need some time and space to decide what to make with this one. Stay tuned.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Look, ma - it's a seamless top-down!

It all started last year when all of a sudden I bought too much yarn.
Yes, I know, there is no such thing as "too much yarn" for a knitter, but all non-knitters will tell you what I am talking about. It means so much that you have absolutely to space to keep it.
It happened to me for the first time in my life. Usually, I can control my yarn buying impulses. No, not totally control them, just up to a point... but still.
How and why did it happen? We built a new house in Florida, and while I was in Pennsylvania, I kept ordering yarn online with the delivery address in Florida. Only when we came here in October and I saw all the packages neatly stored in my closet, I got worried that I won't be able to use all this yarn in my lifetime. Most of the yarn I ordered was from ColourMart and it was mainly scraps, odds and ends of great yarn in different length and color but the same weight - heavy lace.
It took me a while to wound them up in balls. People who have done it at least once know what kind of nightmare I am talking about. People who've never done it before - please, please, please, don't buy this yarn in scraps, it's not worth it, believe me!
Now I've got many-many balls with only two clear measurements for every ball - the yarn weight and the ball weight.
Making socks from this yarn seems to me a waste of time: the yarn is too thin and the socks won't last long. Multicolored hats is another option. This year it might be my solution to the Christmas gifts situation. Still, I needed to figure out a kind of project to use up most of the yarn. And what is the best project when you don't know how much yarn you've got or when you can run out of yarn at any moment? Right, it's a seamless top-down.
Fortunately, these projects are extremely popular now on Ravelry and outside of it. After making Arboreal, Birkin, and Order of the Garter, I became less afraid of the top-down projects. I was looking for a sweater like in my inspirational board on Pinterest  - modern with a bold colorful design, with some folk references but without traditional flowers or snowflakes (I am more into geometrical stuff right now).
Finally, while making the Clear Creek Cardigan from the Interweave Knits Spring 2018 issue, I found my project of interest - Elk Meadow Pullover by Paula Pereira.
To tell you the truth, at first I didn't even notice this sweater. I think that its styling in the magazine is rather unflattering. Look at the photo:
The pullover blends into background which is light blue, almost like its main colors. Plus light blue pants on the model don't improve the picture either. And the last unfortunate touch is the model's earrings - they are pretty, and folksy, and also have almost the same color, and are very distracting from the actual knitted garment they are supposed to help to showcase. In my opinion, it would look much better with a darker background - teal or brown - and some dark pants or skirt. Oh, and without the earrings for sure, but I digress. Back to knitting!
Anyway, since making the Clear Creek Cardigan took a while, I kept spotting the Elk Meadow pullover, spending longer and longer time observing its unusual geometrical design, until at some point I imagined it in other colors - my colors - and that was it. I knew what I was going to make from the ColourMart scraps!

My gauge was totally off: 30 sts and 36 rows in 10 cm (unwashed). Eventually, after washing and steaming the finished sweater the gauge became 28x34 in 10 cm. The pattern gauge is 24x30 in 4".
I had to do a lot of math.
Here is what I did and how I did it in case you get the same gauge and want to replicate my process. Truth be told, it was really painful at times - it took a lot of unraveling and starting over. Yet, it was extremely rewarding and fun to make and I am totally in love with the end result.
I started with tubular CO and the biggest size - 132 sts, worked for 20 rounds in k2, p2 ribs, then shaped back neck  following the pattern's math but using Japanese short rows. I incorporated new sts more gradually:
first inc row - K1*K2, inc one st*till the end, K1 = 176 sts;
2 row - all K sts;
second inc row - K2*K2, inc one st*till the end, K2 = 234 sts;
2 row - all K sts;
third inc row - *K3, inc one st* till the end, K4 = 312 sts;
2 row - all K sts;
fourth inc row - *K4, inc one st* till the end = 384 sts.
Used the colorwork pattern for the biggest size. Started the colorwork pattern at the left side of the back (it was a vain precaution because there is almost no noticeable jog in this pattern).
After dividing for body and sleeves I got 264 + 24 = 288 sts (added 6 sts on each side of underarms) for the body, 72 +8 = 80 sts for each sleeve.
Finished the colorwork and knit for 30 more rows, shape lower back using Japanese short rows.
144 sts between side markers.
Short row 1: Knit to 15 sts before the first side marker, turn.
Short row 2: Purl to 15 sts before the second side marker, turn.
Short row 3: Knit to 10 sts before the first side marker, turn.
Short row 4: Purl to 10 sts before the second side marker, turn.
Short row 5: Knit to 5 sts before the first side marker, turn.
Short row 6: Purl to 5 sts before the second side marker, turn.
Short row 7: Knit to the first side marker, turn.
Short row 8: Purl to the second side marker, turn.
Short row 9: Knit 5 sts after the first side marker, turn.
Short tow 10: Purl 5 sts after the second side marker, turn.
Finished with 20 rows of K2xP2 ribs and a regular BO (I tried the tubular BO as recommended in the pattern but didn't like how it looked).
I had only 80 sts for each sleeve that turned out to be not too many so I didn't make the decreases, just kept knitting all 80 sts till the cuff  (10 rows after the end of colorwork) and then *K2, K2tog* for one row to get 60 sts. 24 rows of K2xP2 ribs and a regular BO.
I used 3 needles sizes - 2.00 mm for the ribbing, 3.00 mm for the colorwork, and 2.5 mm for the rest.
The finished sweater is soft, drapy, and incredibly flattering. I know that I am going to wear it a lot. I already do, Floridian hot weather notwithstanding.
My only regret - I should have divided for body and sleeves a bit earlier. With all the different yarns and a gazillion of sts it was hard to try it on often enough. But next time I'll know where to stop yoking.
And this is the most important lesson of making the Elk Meadow pullover - now I know my numbers and can recreate this sweater with different patterns but the same yarn as many times as I want (and I have quite a lot of this yarn, remember?).
I tried to be as thorough as possible detailing the entire process. As usual, all the specs and more pictures are on my Ravelry page. What do you think?

Buttonholes (tutorial # 2)

As promised, here is my favorite buttonhole recipe.

Step 1. Decide buttonholes' placement

I always pick buttons for a project together with yarn. It gives me enough time to change my mind if I picked wrong. And if I don't change my mind by the time the buttonholes are made, it means that I made a right choice!
Make the left front first and calculate the rows between the future buttonholes. If you put markers in place of buttons, it makes your life and calculations easier.

Step 2. Execution

Get to the row where you want to start a buttonhole (keep in mind that a buttonhole is made in two rows)
For this particular example I picked up 9 sts to make 3 sts buttonhole.
Knit the first 3 sts:
Leaving the working yarn behind your work, bind off buttonhole sts (just thread them one into another like you do while binding off without actually knitting them): 
In my case I bound off three sts to have a buttonhole right in the middle:

Get back to the working yarn and turn your work to the wrong side:
Pick up sts from the last st on your left needle. I picked up 4 sts because I bound off 3 sts, but my general rule - pick up as many sts as were bound off plus one

Turn the work back to the right side and knit together the last st on the left needle and the first st on the right needle

Keep knitting till the end of the row. In the purl row purl, or knit, or knit and purl picked up stitches as you go

Ta-da! Your first buttonhole is finished.
If you don't knit together the last picked up st and the first st on the right needle you might have a visible gap at the end of your buttonhole. See?
And you don't want more gaps than needed.
Does this method have room for improvement? Of course. Yet, since I found it somewhere on the Internet more than 10 years ago I've been making buttonholes this way and they serve me well. They are sturdy enough and don't stretch as much as the ones made with yarn overs. If you want them to look even prettier you can sew around later using a sewing needle and thread of the same color. Sometimes I do it, mostly to connect the first bound off st with the previous one.
I hope it helps!