a finished sweater!

Grey is my favourite colour. It’s very versatile for clothing, perfect for me as I try to keep a minimalish wardrobe.

Another sign that grey is my favourite? This is the 6th grey sweater I’ve knitted!

IMG_20141026_140759Meet The Jumble Sale Kimono for the Widow Mayhew’s Daughter designed by Andi Smith and published in What (else) Would Madame Defarge Knit?.

The pattern is now available as a separate PDF for those who aren’t interested in the entire book (I’m obviously biased for all of it).

I started this sweater in May 2013, to go along with a KAL. I finally finished it last Saturday night, a week too late for Rhinebeck. I swatched for this sweater, by knitting the sleeves. Why did I knit my sleeve instead of a normal swatch? I struggle to actually knit swatches because it bothers me that after I block and measure them, they mostly just sit around ignored in my swatch box. I am impatient and could foresee not wanting to knit the second sleeve and then turning it into a vest! It would have been a pain to rip out the sleeve if it didn’t work out, but I knew if I made gauge (which I did) then I would be a sleeve ahead.

Swatching was essential for this project to answer two questions: 1) would my yarn substitution work? The yarn I used (now discontinued) is structurally different from the suggested Fiber Optic Kashmir. 2) I also wanted to see if my idea to knit on the lace edge would work, its designed to be sewn on later. The answer was yes and sort of. After making gauge, I decided to forge ahead with this yarn anyway. Knitting on the lace worked perfectly, but because it’s a dark charcoal grey sweater, the lace detail is lost.

This sweater was knitted in fits and starts and when I finally finished the second sleeve at the end of August I knew I had to make some changes so I would actually finish it. I wound three balls off the cone and knit the back and both fronts at the same time. I thought about knitting mostly seamless, but I wanted to practice my seaming so I forced myself to knit it flat. It got to be a tangle at times, but I think it worked out overall. I went into the seaming knowing that the lengths were equal and that helped.

I then needed to make a decision if I was going to knit the lace and cable edging or not. For the bottom I knew I didn’t want the motif. This is the same yarn I knitted the Whisper Cardigan out of, and I knew that it really likes to roll. So I knitted a hem and faced it with some green in the same yarn. I was going to knit the collar in brioche, but due to needle choice ended up doing a 1×1 rib instead, knitting it directly onto the fronts. I like the understated effect, though wish I had remembered to increase the stitch count once I made the switch from brioche to ribbing as it’s a bit narrow. I ended the ribbing with a tubular bindoff and that little detail makes me very happy. More notes about my design modifications can be found on my ravelry project page.

I’ve worn this sweater every day this week, it’s now my favourite sweater!

a tax-time knit for comfort

Aah, tax time.

With our anniversary on April 14th, taxes are filed early. Some years we rejoice; some years we pay. This was a year we had to pay.

When I first saw the Comfort of a Friend Shawls for a doll and girl I wanted to begin knitting right away! The shawl isn’t sexy, but it’s practical and I really like practical garments that I can wear. When I learned that Laura Ricketts also designed an adult version and that, this lovely shawl* (sized xs-3x!) would be the first Knit-a-Long after the book release, I was definitely excited. Then Heather told me it was planned to start on April 16th… because we all need some comfort that day and I knew I would be knitting along. Will you join us?

comfort shawlSince the tax-man received my check, I went stash diving for a yarn I adore and I know brings me comfort, Lion Brand Wool-Ease. Why Wool-Ease? It’s a work yarn. It’s a yarn for wearing and living in. It will hold up to the abuse I give my clothing. This particular batch of Wool-ease was destined to become a blanket for the house and was purchased long before we made any interior decorating decisions. Over the winter I finally proclaimed defeat (as I snuggled into a store-bought blanket) and ripped that project. I love the colour and it will provide nice contrast to my daily uniform of black. I will be able to wear this around the house and will not stress about if the cat cuddles a little too closely and we get tangled up or if I spill coffee everywhere. Again. The yarn holds up through repeated washings and dryings that in a year or three I could even still wear it out in public without fear of it looking overly worn. Is it a sexy yarn? No, but I love it.

Since my taxes are filed and paid and I needed a traveling project, I cast-on last week. Yes, I broke the KAL “rules” but we’re a low-stress bunch.

The designer recommends beginning the ribbing with a long-tail tubular cast-on for a lovely, smooth, seamless, and elastic edge.

I enjoy working different cast-ons, but I also have a known love affair with Judy’s Magic Cast-on (aka JMCO). It’s not just for sock toes! I keep turning to it in my designs and love it for provisional cast-ons. I’ve enjoyed using it in a few projects for a tubular 1×1 rib and decided to give it a go on this for a 2×2 rib.

What?! Can you turn knitting started in-the-round into ribbing knit flat? Yes.

How? First, watch this youtube video by Lorilee Beltman. You set up this cast-on by knitting one round, then fold the work in half to create the ribbing which will be knit flat. It sounds more confusing than it is. Just trust me. Is this as stretchy? I don’t think it works as well for 2×2 rib, but I still like it. Will this pull on the bias? Yes, a little. The instructions below are modified from how I did my setup, I believe beginning with a larger needle will both increase the stretch and reduce bias pull. I’ll test it when I knit my second shawl, because yes, I will be knitting at least two!

Using JMCO cast-on the desired number of stitches onto 5 mm (US 8) needles (This is easiest with two circulars or magic loop. Remember: half of the total is on each needle.)
Round 1 – Knit around.
Row 1 – Next, as demonstrated in the video, fold the work over (as if you were to do a three needle bind-off). Change to a 4mm needle. Knit two stitches from the front needle, purl two stitches from back needle, repeating this pattern until all stitches are worked.
Row 2 – Continue in established 2×2 rib (beginning with a k2 or p2 as appropriate) as per pattern instructions.

comfort shawl ribbing unstretched

comfort shawl ribbing stretched

I promise not every post in the foreseeable future will be about the book! Assisting with some of the coordination of all the many pieces has meant this book is something I think about constantly and it has seeped into all parts of my work and life.

* note: The adult version of the shawl was offered as a special thank you pattern for those who pre-ordered. It is not available in the book and is a separate pattern available for purchase. Thank you.