A long weekend away with my knitting besties? Just what the doctor ordered. We made our way to a cabin in West Virginia for three days of 80s movies (on VHS no less), bacon, birthdays, knitting, cross stitch, and nature.
I didn’t knit a single stitch, giving my thumb a nice long rest; instead I cross-stitched and embroidered. At night I slept in the top bunk over Caro and listened to the rain fall on the roof in a darkness that I cannot find here in Brooklyn without an eye mask. Mornings, I made lemon-ricotta pancakes. One day we went blackberry picking, which JulieFrick later made into a cobbler. Pam devoted 11 avocados to her amazing guacamole. Nova finished a shawl, while Specs finished a legwarmer and a cross stitch project (that’s for me!). Heather spoke to us in French and kept us stocked with wine. We celebrated Christy and Julie’s birthdays (and Diana and Ashley’s, in absentia). Caro made us her famous Mephistopheritas (Margaritas with habanero-infused tequila). We went out at midnight in the 50-degree night and craned our necks to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We laughed until it hurt.
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!
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!
I’m one of those people who gets sick after a stressful event. In college, I got sick on every visit home; for a while in Philly I was getting sick each weekend. I moved to New York, and the constant stress was such that I didn’t actually catch a cold until the week after I stopped working at my job. So after these past few weeks, in which I had a lot of fun but did a LOT, I’m now sick! And home on a Friday night, so I’m talking to you guys for the first time in ages.