Monday, July 2, 2018

The Mysterious Case Of A Vanishing Jog

The story of this sweater is rather bizarre but it has a happy ending so there is no need to worry.
Back in April, contemplating my stash, I found quite a few balls of Rowan Pure Wool 4ply leftovers from my last year experiments – Juno, Blue Improvisation, and Sunshine.
I had about 6 balls in Gerbera colorway, some white, blue, and a bit of yellow balls. My obvious choice was a colorwork pattern where I could use maximum of the yarn while still having enough for a whole garment. Still, I wasn’t certain that the quantity of the main color (Gerbera) would be enough and decided to try another top down just to be on a safe side.

I picked this old French knitting magazine – again! –because
1) I love it!
2) I’d made the best patterns from it before (from some cheap yarn) and the fit was great.
3) its patterns are classic = timeless
4) I like to make something unique and original, and what can be more original than remaking the old patterns in the modern way?
My goal was to make this pattern, which is written as a bottom up and supposed to be knit in pieces, into a top down with short rows (yes, I am still having fun with Japanese short rows, they are flawless, and I’ve been incorporating them pretty much everywhere).

At first, everything went as planned: I began with tubular CO (stretchy and polished!), made short rows and increases. Yes, I had adjust the pattern a bit for my size, but after having made Birkin and Elk Meadow pullover, I felt much more confident in my numbers and it wasn’t a completely guessing game.
Fortunately, the pattern’s yoke includes three fair isle motifs separated by plain stockinett. It gives an opportunity to incorporate the increases more evenly plus is handy for short rows. Honestly, I got a little bit carried on with the short rows here… But back to the sweater.

The colors looked so lively and vibrant together that I literally couldn’t put this project down as the end result had a promise to become spectacular (ha-ha, can I say it about my own work? Sure, I can since I like it). That is why I didn’t bother trying the finished part on till I reached the armholes. And then an unthinkable happened, the jog (this place where a previous row ends and a new row begins, and where knitters have to be most careful in avoiding a ladder effect when switching colors) turned out to be right at the front of the yoke.
It was a major blow. A really huge one. I was so happy with my newfound pattern rewriting skills, the yarn, and the colors. I was so looking forward to finishing this sweater. Actually, I thought of gifting it to someone (if I had enough yarn for the sleeves). No more gifting and the overall prospects were bleak since I couldn’t imagine myself wearing it knowing about the yoke and the jog.
I even asked the knitting community on Facebook for help but most of their advice was to carry on and finish this project. And I couldn’t even look at it at the time.
So I started another colorwork pattern – Asbury – that was timely finished and gifted while ruminating about the fate of this potentially beautiful but flawed project.

When we came back to Florida in June I took another look at it and it occurred to me that I could still finish it and then just keep for further references (and not to make this stupid mistake again).
Even though it is a top down I divided it after the yoke (and more Japanese short rows!) in four parts that I knit separately. From my previous experience I knew that this yarn becomes exceptionally stretchy when knit in the round. Actually, it is very stretchy even with seams, you need to be extremely careful while blocking it. Working in the round speeds up thing and make a knitter’s life much easier but I’d rather suffer while working on a garment than while wearing it.

After the body was finished (with tubular BO on the ribbing), I had very little yarn in the main color left for the sleeves. I used a kitchen scale to divide it as evenly as possible in two parts and made the sleeves as long as the remaining yarn would allow me. I didn’t have enough yarn for the tubular BO. And seaming was tricky since I’ve never had so little yarn to work with.

When everything was done I put the finished sweater on and… a miracle! The jog was right where it was meant to be from the beginning – on my shoulder. I still don’t understand how it happened. When I tried the yoke on the first time the jog was clearly at the front. And with all those Japanese rows there couldn’t be a mistake about the front and the back. I was incredulous, more than pleasantly surprised, and went to my husband to share my wonderful news.
His reaction wasn’t what I expected. He wasn’t happy for me. Do you know why? Would you be happy if a builder working on your house would joyfully but unexpectedly discover that the roof is exactly where it was meant to be after all, on top and not on the side? Probably, you’d start looking for another builder.

Apparently, my pattern rewriting skills need much more honing in. And I really want to understand better the top down construction so I’ll keep working on it. It is fortunate that round yoke sweaters with colorwork are still fashionable. Actually, for me they’ll always be fashionable. The question is how many round yoke sweaters one person can own at the same time?
Now, the Mysterious Case of a Vanishing Jog covered (as usual, more details on my Ravelry page), I can write about my #summerofbasics projects and more adventures in knitting design.

Talk to you soon,


Sunday, July 1, 2018


I’ve been knitting. All this time that I was silent here, I was knitting. During these last two months we moved from Florida to Pennsylvania (for a month) and back from Pennsylvania to Florida (for a month). Next week we are going to leave for our yearly trip to Canada. To top it off,  there are two more trips for this summer/fall in our plans.
Since I cannot stop knitting no matter where I am, I have to plan my projects way ahead of time. And it works well (mostly) yet, sometimes it backfires. Look what happened to me last month.
I have a wonderful linen yarn in an amazing mustard color that works with absolutely all my summer clothes. I picked this yarn to take with me to Pennsylvania so I could finish a summery garment right before the summer officially begins. The problem in this particular case was that I had no idea which project this yarn is supposed to become.
So I started one project with this yarn (in March) while working on other things and soon discovered that the result looks ugly and particularly dreadful on me. OK, no problem, I started another one in April and was bored to death while working on it, which is why I kept avoiding it, and eventually it got unraveled.
Then, in May (already in Pennsylvania), I thought that I finally found a match for my wonderful yarn, and started a third project that was promptly abandoned because I couldn’t understand the pattern instructions. At all! Does it happen to you? Since we all have different thinking/processing styles, sometimes designer’s logic and my logic are not compatible. For example, I am clearly an abstract-sequential person and it takes an enormous effort for me to understand someone who is random. Anyway, this project was abandoned as well.
By the end of May I was desperate and decided to come back to my original plan and start over with the very first pattern. Bummer! I finished half of the top but it was ugly (again!) and was frogged (again!).
I am not complaining – this is an inevitable part of the process. Certain yarns just don’t want to become certain garments. There is only one solution to this predicament: wait patiently for the right pattern. It is there somewhere, and eventually you’ll find it. Just don’t despair!
I wrote all this just to show that even the best plans may go awry. It doesn’t mean that we should stop planning. This year though I decided to put one serious constraint on me – I have to use only the yarn in my stash. I cannot afford to buy new yarn because there is no space to keep it anymore. And I discovered that challenges and constraints help creativity. For this reason I unsubscribed myself from all the knitting websites that kept sending me updates about their sales and new items, and now if some email seeps through my barricade I delete it immediately without reading. Leaving on an island, far from yarn stores definitely helps keeping my resolve. So far it’s been 6 months almost (ALMOST) without buying new yarn. Nevertheless, I have a long steep road to climb.
While I was fighting with my stubborn mustard yellow yarn, I made two gifts. This year I started making Christmas and other presents earlier since I have to make so many.
First, I finished Arlo by Michele Wang for a 4 year old boy.
The pattern was clear and enjoyable. The yarn – Naturally Naturelle 8 ply fromNew Zealand – has been in my stash for ages, and I was glad to find a good project for it. It is a little bit heathery, warm, light, and easy on your hands. And it went so fast! I forgot how fast children’s knits are.
Arlo finished, I still had quite a lot of this yarn in two colors – brown and white. Adding to them some leftovers of Adrienne Vittadini yarns excavated from my basement, I started another project, this time for an adult. And I picked an old Norah Gaughn’s pattern from Vogue Knitting Fall1999.

I must confess that I believe that in knitting (and in fashion in general) everything has already been invented and done. It is up to us, knitters, to combine all traditional, timeless elements in a new contemporary way. I personally get more inspiration from looking back, at the old garments and fabrics, than at the Ravelry’s “Hot Right Now” page. And this is why I have an ever growing collection of knitting books and magazines.
In fashion I like the classic style with simple lines and a good construction, and have no interest in homespun, unevenly colored yarns, or shapeless garments made with no seems. They are definitely fun to make but are hardly ever worn by anyone (unless you are Stephen West or have a similar style in clothes).
Now, after this little tangent, let’s get back to my project. I don’t have any pictures of that cardigan because it was promptly made and gifted. Yet, while working on it, I saw this picture on Pinterest:

In general, I am not a big fan of Miroslava Duma’s style, and the only garment on this picture that would work for me is the jacket. But what a jacket it is! I kind of fell in love with it… Instantly, my mind started working: do I have any yarn for it, do I know any patterns that might be used here, when and where could I make it?
Meanwhile, we moved back to Florida where I have another old book by Norah Gaughn and Susan Mills The Best of Lopi. And I found some old Rowan yarn unraveled from two projects that were made top down and seamless and were never worn because of a very poor fit.

Last year I participated in the #summerofbasics knitalong. Well, sort of participated because I really liked the fact that there was no particular structure to it. Normally, I don’t do knitalongs or other things that have deadlines because of the complications from our frequent travels. This time the only requirements were (at least as I understood them) to make one garment a month, and to post its pictures in progress and of the end result on Instagram. It looked doable to me and I did it. And the best part was that I finally got to knit things that had been postponed for ages and enjoyed myself immensely in the process. Yet, by the end it all became a photo context – participants were asked to organize their pictures in a certain way and these pictures were judged (by some judges) and the winners got prizes. Which, in my opinion, made the whole thing more like a photo context rather than a knitting one because there are many more amazing and talented knitters in this world than amazing and talented knitting photographers.
However, since last year’s contest really helped me get my priorities straight, this year I decided to take part in this thing again.
Here is what I plan to make in the 3 months (yes, I know, one month is already over and I’ve made some of these items but still…)
1) A round yoke fair isle cardigan a la Miroslava Duma. Yarn – recycled Rowan wool. Pattern Norah Gaughn Traditional Icelandic cardigan + Luter and Iva from The Best of Lopi.

2) A pair of socks for my daughter. Yarn – Colormart scraps. Pattern – Lacy Cable socks by Veronik Avery.

3)A cardigan for a 10 year old girl. Yarn – leftovers from my never ending Rowan fine tweed stash. Pattern – Periwinkle Family by Martin Storey from Rowan Magazine #61 (a little modified).
4)Another round yoke fair isle cardigan from an old French knitting magazine – I wanted to make this cardigan for as long as I remember but there was always something on my way.
This year I’ll try to finally make it from the leftovers of Rowan fine tweed.
5)Some hats for children and friends. Pattern – Mist by Kim Hargreaves from Rowan’s A Yorkshire Fable. Yarn – Rowan fine tweed and Colormart scraps.

6) Speaking of Kim Hargreaves – have you seen her last book Haze? 
I want so many things from this book, it hurts… Originally I planned to make a summer tank for myself. So maybe I’ll be able to squeeze two patterns from this book into my tight summer schedule. Yarn – Rowan Cotton Glace and Maggi’s Multi Linen from the stash.
7) Last year in London I saw this sweater in a store.
It looked comfortable and luxurious at the same time and cost a fortune. I have some Colormart yarn in my stash and a pattern from a Japanese knitting book that I want to use to make a sweater similar to this one.
I think that would be enough to occupy me this summerJ))
The first month is over and 3 out of 7 items on this list are already finished. Actually, I finished 4 but the 4th one was started in April so it cannot be counted as a #summerofbasics project. And I’ll tell you everything I can about those knits… next timeJ))