Category Archives: I knit

Knitting and unknitting

Good news first, right? I love this hat.
IMG_4149.JPGIt’s Scrollwork from Brooklyn Tweed, knit from my dwindling stash of cashmere. I have to admit that I didn’t love knitting it; the cable pattern never quite became second nature to me, though the pattern itself is extremely clear and easy to follow, and the fact that the yarn was several very fine strands held together meant that the knitting and cabling both had to go very slowly, but it was worth it.

And this sweater turned out exactly the way I hoped:
IMG_4227.JPGIt’s Chalkstone knit in Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca Light, which is finer gauge than the pattern calls for, so I ended up knitting a couple sizes up from where I normally would. The lace pattern was easy to memorize and I love the fancy-relaxed vibe the finished garment has.

This one, alas, is getting ripped out and the gorgeous yarn repurposed.
IMG_4247.JPGI’ve always liked Cobblestone. I think the simple design is lovely and the way it plays garter and stockinette off each other is very elegant and sculptural. Unfortunately, the fit on me wasn’t great. It’s designed for men’s broad shoulders, which I don’t have, and I didn’t find the neckline especially flattering. Plus, in hindsight, I think it looks better in a rustic wool than the drapy alpaca I used. I’m planning to use the yarn for another Effortless Cardigan, which will suit it perfectly and produce a garment I’ll wear a lot.

Also, man, my hair is getting long. Maybe today is the day I search out some braiding tutorials online…

Fall knitting

Cobblestone is finished and awaiting blocking. I’m toying with the idea of overdyeing it though; the yarn has an olive component that’s much more visible in the knitted fabric than it was in the yarn and it’s not a color that flatters me or would look good with the rest of my wardrobe. The blue in the background is beautiful though, so I’d like to find a similar dye color, one that’ll preserve the blue, but move the olive into more of an aqua-teal. I was initially thinking about trying to set up an indigo vat (using these crystals, I haven’t taken complete leave of my senses), but a light navy or royal blue regular dye bath is probably the way to go.

The other two main projects I have going at the moment are Baby Cables and Big Ones Too in a black finewool and Chalkstone in Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light that I reclaimed from a sweater I knit a few years ago. It was one I designed and I was planning to release the pattern, so I don’t think I ever showed it here, but it had some shaping issues that I couldn’t be bothered to resolve and it’s been taunting me from the bottom of a box since. This is a much better use for the yarn.

20140915-083858.jpgThey’re both patterns I’ve had queued for a while—years where Baby Cables is concerned—and they’re both garments I’ll wear a lot with clothes I already have. I’ve been trying to move toward knitting with long-term wardrobe planning in mind, rather than picking projects based on what would be fun to knit or what would work with yarn that I have on hand. These two have me off to a pretty good start, I think.

On taking your time when fabric shopping

Earlier this summer, I stopped by B+J Fabrics and picked up a few yards of this cotton for a summer dress. I was in a hurry and when I a bolt in the cotton prints section that was still mostly wrapped in paper caught my eye, I grabbed it.  I liked the purple-y gray and black colorway, I liked what I could see of the somewhat abstract geometric/mountain pattern, and I figured it would make a great dress.
20140711-093220.jpgThen I got it home and unfolded the yardage to put it in the laundry:20140711-093228.jpgI had accidentally bought three yards of novelty bat-patterned Halloween fabric.

I actually wasn’t especially bothered by it, though, and thought the whole situation was pretty funny. Plus, I like bats and I wouldn’t not wear a bat dress, even when it isn’t Halloween. Still, I had a really hard time deciding whether to use the fabric bat-side-up or bat-side-down. On one hand, if you HAVE novelty fabric, you might as well commit to it. I think a bat dress could be thoroughly charming. But on the other hand, I’ve been working pretty hard to edit down my closet and get rid of things I only wear occasionally (I’m thinking about doing Project 333—have any of you ever tried it?) and novelty dresses don’t really fit the direction I’d like my wardrobe to be going in.

I waffled and waffled and waffled some more, but last night I finally cut out a dress with the fabric positioned so it’ll read as mountains to passersby. But every time I look down at the dress, I’ll see the bats and crack myself up all over again.

Study break

I’ve been working on this Stripe Study off and on for a few months. I had a bit of trouble getting going with it — hard a hard time figuring out a way to do the short row wraps that I was happy with — but eventually got it down and was sailing along. The yarn is super gorgeous; the gray is Jade Sapphire’s cashmere in Tanis Grays and the cream is Swan’s Island merino/silk, which was one of the yarns I was considering for my wedding dress.
20140709-083545.jpgThen last night I realized I’d dropped a stitch about an inch back and there is no way to ladder it back up through the stripes that will look neat enough to satisfy me. So it’ll get ripped back again. I would be a lot more disappointed, except that this will give me a chance to fix something that’s been bugging me about it: the yarns are not quite the same weight. The cream is a little lighter than the gray, so those sections are slightly sheer. I don’t think it would be especially noticeable in the finished scarf, but I’m happy to have a chance to use something else. I have a skein of Blackberry Ridge’s wool/silk (which was also in the running for the dress) that’s a little heavier than the Swan’s Island and I think will be an excellent match for the cashmere.
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The best summer dress

I’ve written before about how much I love the no-longer-being-produced Mociun tie-front dress and how happy I was to realize that one of the Washi Dress expansion pack variations is a dead ringer for it. I finally finished a version of it this weekend and I love it unreservedly.

I wore it Friday night with heels to go out to dinner with Rob, then with sandals on Saturday when I was going to be meeting a bunch of new people and just pulled it on today with silver clogs, knowing that I’m going to be seeing a couple of my most stylish ladyfriends tonight, so I think it may officially be my new favorite dress.
10464061_10202672659312536_4493005448547722768_nIf I’d known how much I was going to like it, I would have done a better job putting it together though. I was really just thinking of this as a test run. I’m out of muslin so decided to try the pattern out using some cheap poly satin I had a fair bit of yardage of. Years ago, my mom and I had bought all of it that was left on the bolt, getting a big discount, and split it. I’ve never really known what to do with it though since the pattern is attractive but the fabric itself is so shiny and cheap looking. I figured I’d get it rid of it by testing the pattern, but when I got it out, I realized that the wrong side is actually pretty great looking, so that’s what’s on view. It made assembly tricky though, since the sides facing each other for all the sewing were really slippery.
-1I’m not sure the degree of shininess really comes through here; that’s the “wrong” side on the left and “right” side on the right:
20140618-072402.jpgThe dress came together very easily and quickly. It’s fitted with bust darts and an elastic casing at the back, so there’s no zipper to insert. It’s fitted enough on top that it doesn’t look like a sack, but it’s loose enough to be light and breezy and comfortable all summer. It looks good on its own or with a cardigan or blazer over it or tights or leggings under it, so depending on the fabric, it’ll work for all but the very bitterest cold days. I want to make half a dozen of them. I ordered some of this gorgeous Nani Iro double gauze for my next one; I can’t wait.
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Admiral’s Row: So close, yet so far away

Yesterday morning, I went to the first New Amsterdam Market of the spring. I said hello to a few people, introduced myself to some of my interview subjects I hadn’t yet met in person, bought a grapefruit/chamomile soda from the lovely folks at P&H and a pepperwort plant from the Vermont wild food people, and left before it got too crowded. It was a not-too-warm sunny day, so I decided to walk back into Brooklyn over the Brooklyn Bridge and walk home from there. Halfway over, however, I was thinking about the route home and the fact that it’s the same walk I take from home to work and back again every working day. And I was overcome with ennui. However, thinking about where I’d be coming off the bridge, I realized that I wouldn’t be far from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where there was something I’d been wanting to go look at for years.

Admiral’s Row is a block of decrepit mansions where the naval officers lived around the turn of the twentieth century back when the Navy Yard was a bustling industrial center. They’re behind walls and fences now, so not really accessible, but they’re at least visible. I had a confusing walk over from the bridge — I knew which direction I needed to go and had a good basic idea of which streets would get me there, but I kept coming up against dead ends and on-ramps and strange roads with no sidewalks, some of which I swear were not on the map I pulled up on my phone. (Ah, Brooklyn!) But I persevered and found Flushing Avenue … and realized I wouldn’t be able to get any closer because the thousands of cyclists participating in the 5Boro Bike Tour were whizzing along in my way.I’ll head back over sooner rather than later, so should have some more photos then, but in the meantime, the Officer’s Row Project site is well worth your time and there are some beautiful shots on Gothamist and Scouting New York.

At least I’ll know how to get there next time.

Putting Twenty Ten to bed

A couple of weekends ago, I met my friend Anna at an old factory in Greenpoint to take some pictures of my next sweater design on the roof and in a photogenically run-down stairwell. I happened to have worn my Twenty Ten cardigan over there and she was kind enough to take a couple of photos when I realized I didn’t have any modeled shots here. I’m really happy with how it turned out, definitely worth frankensteining a bunch of different sizes in a different gauge to make something that fit well.

And here’s a sneak peak at the new one:

I’m sizing the pattern now. It’s giving me fits, but I will triumph. I should be able to get it to my lovely tech editor after the New Year’s weekend, lord willing and the creek don’t rise. (whether she ever talks to me again afterward is another story…)

Announcing Herkimer

I’m delighted to announce that my first downloadable knitting pattern, Herkimer, is live on Ravelry. It’s a seamless cabled cardigan knit in Ultra Alpaca and sized from 32″ to 53 1/4″. I did the actual knitting a while ago, so I’ve really been enjoying getting to show it off. And the fact that I’m in a position to do so is due to my very good luck having friends with the skills I needed to make this pattern happen: Carolyn and her prowess with the camera, Jenn and her math-whiz tech-editing skills, and Jackie‘s graphic design know-how.

Carolyn took the pictures while I was in Chicago earlier this summer, and she and Jenn were nice enough to wander around downtown Chicago with me while I looked for the kind of picturesque urban grit I had in mind for a background. (I had no idea the city was so clean and shiny! All the talk of gangsters and stockyards had led me to believe there’d be more dirt.) But we found this lovely brick wall, and Carolyn went to work while I stood there awkwardly, trying to look like a normal human wearing a sweater. She’s such a good photographer that the final shots look natural, but Jenn got a few camera photos of us at work.

Chicago has the nicest back alleys I’ve ever seen. There was a Maserati just out of the shot. (But what do I do with my hands?)

New project

Last weekend, I had an overwhelming urge to cast on for a new sweater, one that I would just knit straight from the pattern without designing it myself or rewriting for a gauge difference or reworking elements to be more to my taste. So I did, more or less.

I’ve had this Teva Durham pattern from the winter 99/00 issue of Vogue Knitting on my radar for a while. I wanted a pullover since I’ve been knitting a lot of cardigans lately and I really like the mix of textures and how smoothly the pattern transitions between them. I like that it’s closely fitted at the shoulder, which makes a huge difference in how well a sweater fits (and therefore flatters) me. I didn’t quite meet my goal of a project with no changes, but the ones I’m making are fairly straightforward: leaving off all the foofaraw on the bottom and doing besides the slit and pom-poms at the neck. I’m using some Aracaunia Nature Wool that I had ordered online a year or so ago thinking that it was a pretty dark pink color. When it showed up was a kind of dead pinky-wine color, so I overdyed it with (I think, it’s been a while) some burgandy and a little black and it’s a much more interesting darker plum now.