archives: knitting

a birthday beret!

This is my friend Carol. If you’ve been to a Vogue Knitting LIVE, and been in the Marketplace, you might have seen her dash past you as she worked the event. And I mean dash—this girl does not move slowly. She’s tireless at everything she does, from running marathons to drinking coffee to just plain talking. And she just raced to age 30.

Leading up to her birthday she was downright shameless. “Erin! I’m turning 30! Knit me something!” and “I love alll knitted things! You could knit me anything!” and even “Don’t you want to knit me something for my thirtieth?” I am certainly not immune to that kind of enthusiasm—I’m not made of stone, people. (Can we talk for a moment about her new dog, Ritz, and how adorable he is? Never did you see a more chill, laid-back dog with a more hyperactive owner. He comes to the office from time to time, and of course celebrated her birthday with her. His sweater, by the way, was store-bought.)

So after I finished the Bulky Topper, I knit her this hat, from Vogue Knitting’s Fall 2009 issue. (It’s actually the cover hat, modeled by a former America’s Next Top Model contestant!) The yarn is the remaining Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga that I used in my Buckwheat, and though I think I had a different gauge than the pattern, it fits just right. It was a speedy knit and easy to memorize. In fact, it was my plane knitting because I had all my WIP patterns only on my phone, digital, so I knit this at takeoff and landing. I blocked it over a plate on the radiator and it softened so nicely to a great drape.

Let me tell you, when I gave it to her? She literally jumped up and down and shrieked with joy, put it on, told everyone how awesome she looks in a hat (before she’d seen herself in it), and ran around the office to show it off. The next day she planned her outfit specifically to coordinate with it and wore it for the entire day, too. Honestly, guys, never was a handknit item more well received. I better start planning for her 31st!

bulky topper!

Nothing beats a knit that comes together fast, wears super easily, and uses up a good deal of yarn from your stash! The Bulky Topper by Mari Lynn Patrick was one of my favorites from the Fall 2011 issue of Vogue Knitting, and Lauren suggested in January that we do a little mini knit-along together. Circumstances conspired to give me long stretches of knitting time in February, so I finished up my new most favorite knit in one quick week!

When I visited Lauren in Chicago for a weekend, she excitedly pulled out her yarn to show me, and I’ll admit, I was downright jealous. Hers is the most lovely of grays, a color that I’ve been obsessed with lately. But I wanted to use something from my stash, and I have no gray in a sweater quantity. I had this dark brown I bought at Rhinebeck years ago, when I was in a long-lived brown phase. I harumphed but plunged ahead on a gauge swatch, not even sure if the yarn would work. But as I worked it, the brown started to get into my brain: I love brown! Why had I forsaken it for gray! But damn, did I need a pair of brown boots to wear with this sweater.

Before I’d even finished a single piece (it’s knit flat and seamed—and that’s important to the design, actually), I was out shopping for boots. I found the pair in the photos, and I’m in love! They’re the perfect color, comfortable right out of the store, and exactly what I wanted. They’re from some Italian brand I’d never heard of (I bought them at Century 21). We ran around on the beach and they held up just fine; I splashed around puddles in them recently and nothing calamitous happened. But wait, this is a post about knitting a sweater, not about a pair of boots? Okay then.

So yeah, my knitting of this sweater is actually fraught with some drama. It has been years—literally YEARS—since I knit something flat. It’s also been I-don’t-know-how-long since I knit something that was in reverse stockinette. And you know what? I row out. If you’re not familiar with the term, rowing out is used to describe an effect that comes about if your purls and knits aren’t quite the same height. I must be a touch looser when I purl, so I get slight troughs that are visible on the reverse stockinette side (they’re not visible on the stockinette side for me). I fretted and faffed and ultimately started working my knits on 10.5s and my purls on 10s and it evened out significantly. I even tried different hand positions (going back to knitting English; purling combo) and nothing else helped. In the end, I only worked this two-needle trick for the front and the sleeves; the back was done all on size 10s. Honestly, there’s still evidence of the rowing out even having used that trick. Apparently I need some remedial knitting lessons!

The other reason I raced to get this knit in a week was that I was on a weekend away with my best knitting peeps, and one of them is photographer Caro Sheridan, who I knew could get some awesome photos of me in the sweater. Of course, I finished the damn thing on a beautiful sunny Saturday with blue skies (the same day that I took that picture of Pam in her dragon mitts). But I conveniently finished it that NIGHT. And the next day? A Nor’easter came charging through. It was cold and wet and felt a bit like a hurricane at times. So we hunkered down in the house and there was no photo shoot. The next day, when it was windy as all heck, sand was stinging its way down the shore, and the sea was more churn than water, we dashed down to the water’s edge and had us a photo shoot. Her hands were red and our faces were freezing within moments, but I gotta tell ya: My torso? Not cold at all. Bulky Topper FTW!

Here’s video evidence of the windiness! I say “It’s really windy out here!” And then I ask her if she can even hear me, suspecting that you can’t hear anything over the wind hitting the microphone. And I was right!

rustling leaves beret

I’m late to the beret game. It was never “my” style of hat, and though I admired people’s work from afar, it just wasn’t my thing. But then I decided to request one when Nova was knitting for me, to get me to step outside my comfort zone a touch. I loved it, so then I started knitting them myself. I had no idea how fun and fast they are!

This pattern first caught my eye when I saw Sara’s finished example. I saw amoebas in the pattern more than leaves, and I loved their elongated shape! We have that book at the office, so I snagged a skein of Alisha Goes Around from my stash in a particularly fantastic shade of green and cast on while watching Annie with friends. (I recommend this if you grew up with Annie, because singing along is loads of fun.)

I finished it off less than a week later, and I wasn’t even knitting it that much. Just a few minutes at lunch, a few while watching TV. I did make one error, in that I did not do the brim in a smaller size needle, so it just sort of . . . hangs on my head. However, it is perfectly stable (the yarn has some nice weight) and is so easy for me to wear!

Photos are © Caro Sheridan, again! I love how frequently I see her lately, because the timing has been perfect for getting her to take my FO shots! This time we were in Cambridge having lunch with friends; I’m in town for a business conference. I know I’m capable of taking my own pictures, but why bother when I can enlist a professional? This was spur-of-the-moment, I was rather unkempt, but she made me look amazing. (She was also with me for the Annie singalong, so it’s only fitting!)

year of the dragon!

Try to look at these mittens and not smile. I dare you. There’s something lighthearted, almost laugh-out-loud funny about them, in my opinion, and knitting them was just as fun as, I hope, they will be to wear.

I made these dragon mitts for Pamela Wynne, the only friend I know who can pull off mismatched mittens with dragons on them. I placed the Noro (both Kureyon and Taiyo) exactly where I wanted it to get just the right color transitions. I had to tweak the pattern, which I found on Ravelry, to accommodate my gauge and Pam’s hands. It was kind of a lot of work for something that I had hoped would simply make her laugh.

But I hope they make her laugh every time she puts them on, in cold winters in Michigan.

Details, for posterity: The gray is the fabulous Universal Deluxe Worsted in a dark charcoal gray; the yarn is something like a “dupe” of Cascade 220 and held up great to some, ahem, frogging (I had knit an entire right mitt but decided I needed to go down a needle size). The pink-to-orange mitt is in Noro Taiyo, and the green one is Noro Kureyon. I used very very partial skeins of both colors but luckily was able to get just what I wanted out of them (the Taiyo had some black-and-white sections that would have been a travesty in these mitts!).

Knit about 7 inches long and 7 inches around, with this worsted yarn on size 3 needles. Got decent at twisting the floats, and added a lot more dots of color so that my floats weren’t as long. I worked the thumb gussets as colorwork but finished off the thumbs plain and duplicate stitched the color. It was actually my first time working duplicate stitch—I want to only do that forever more!

buckwheat

If you’re like me, you often look at basic sweaters in stores and mutter to yourself, “I could just make that.” How often do you see a simple pattern from a knitwear designer and think, “but that’s just a basic sweater, I could just make it up myself.” But how often do you? Well, if you’re still like me, and you’re being honest? You never do. If you embark on a design idea, you get more ambitious and end up paralyzed with indecision. That’s when you should, like me, rely on the fantastic patterns already out there. Veera’s Buckwheat fit the bill perfectly.

Because, let’s be honest, it’s a simple little sweater. Knit from the bottom up in the round, then joined at the shoulders so that the sleeves can be picked up and worked down, it requires practically no finishing and gives you a clean-lined, simple sweater that goes with anything. I wore it with dress pants to give a talk at TNNA, and I wore it with jeans when hanging out with friends that night. At breakfast that morning, I mentioned having just sewn on the buttons and my coworker, both Vogue Knitting’s executive editor and Knit Simple’s Editor in Chief, laughed and said she had assumed it was store-bought. Aw shucks!

The yarn is Sanguine Gryphon‘s Skinny Bugga, bought at this past Rhinebeck with no knowledge that the company was going to shutter within weeks (and split into two new dye studios). Sanguine Gryphon was legendary at fiber festivals; people would line up and wait more than an hour to be rung up! I happened into the booth during a rare quiet moment when there were, honest, about 3 people browsing. I needed 3 skeins, so I was definitely limited by colorways that had multiples, but even if I’d gotten there first thing, I think I still would have chosen this color. (“Sea Star”)

It blocked out a bit loose and floppy, which means it’s just a touch too big, but no matter. I like the way it drapes. Sadly in just one day of wearing it, and carrying a purse (as one does), it’s starting to pill and look a little ragged on the side. That’s super disappointing, but hopefully will just require a little upkeep between wearing. The buttons? A mismatched pair of about-the-same-size black ones I found in my button collection. Likely they are both spare buttons from other garments I own. Who knows. I hate buttons. I hate selecting them, sewing them on, etc. So these are just fine by me!

buckwheat! and pam!

The awesome FO shots? Courtesy my friend Caro of Splityarn, the photographer-to-the-knitting-stars (and me!). We met in a parking lot in Phoenix, along with Pam of FlintKnits, who was getting her own personal photo shoot, too, for a to-be-released pattern (Isn’t that sweater awesome? Love the color and all those cables). Stitchy, of course, was there to smooth the wrinkles and tame flyaway hair. Caro and Stitchy are a photography duo par excellence. (And for hire!) Afterward we had dinner of cheesy Mexican fare and had drinks in a revolving bar. Revolving bar!