posts tagged: sweaters

when everything goes right

The last sweater I knit, back in the fall, was less than a success. I didn’t like the final shape, and the fit wasn’t flattering. I still wanted my envisioned boxy, oversized winter sweater, though, and when Michele Wang’s Cordova came out I knew it would be just the thing.

Oh boy was I right.

pepperknit | brooklyn tweed cordova

I slightly exaggerated the oversize: I made the body longer by a few inches (3) and the sleeves, too. I picked the size that would give 4 inches of ease. The yarn, Imperial Yarn Erin, was a dream to work with: woolly but soft, in a perfect heathered gray. Plus how could I resist a yarn with my name! I debated between it and their Columbia 2-Ply, and Jeanne at Imperial described the differences as coming down to Erin being softer and Columbia 3-ply having more color options. Because I wanted gray, which was available in both yarns, Erin was the clear choice. Because I spit-spliced all the joins, I really had relatively few ends to weave in once it was all seamed up.

pepperknit | brooklyn tweed cordova

This was my first time blocking using blocking wires, and that was really satisfying, too–the wires were even probably too flexible for this sturdy sweater, but they worked great for getting the boxy shape set out.

I love so much about this sweater. This was the first time I knit a sweater with a saddle shoulder, and I love the way the big cable goes up all the way to the neck. The trinity stitch on the sides wasn’t the most fun, I’ll admit (k1, p1, k1 in a stitch, followed by p3togging it? slightly tedious), but the cable was easy and looks so impressive. In fact, on my subway right the day we took these photos, a woman came up to ask if I’d knit the sweater (I was knitting a sock at the time, so I suppose that was a tip-off). She told me the cables were just “stunning.” If only she knew how easy they are! 2×2 crossings only, and a mere 6-row repeat.

pepperknit | brooklyn tweed cordova

Of course, I finished it just as the weather started to turn to spring. Luckily we’ve had some pretty frigid days still, and wearing it without a coat is the perfect thing when the temp is in the 50s. And when I work from home, I get SO COLD—throwing this on was just the thing. I’ve already worn it three times in the week since I finished seaming it!

 

the year of the sheep!

The year of the sheep is coming up in February! Starting Feb 19, it’s the year for yarn-lovers of all kinds, and for those who honor the Chinese lunar calendar. One of my cousins on my Chinese side is expecting her first baby in March, and so I felt that this little girl needed something sheep-themed.

pepperknit | year of the sheep sweater

I used the basic formula I’ve done before for another cousin’s baby: the Placket-Neck Pullover from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts (the pdf is available free online here) with some charted colorwork. I actually sketched this little sheep while at lunch with Amy Herzog at TNNA; I wanted the sheep to have a “puffy” feeling to it. I marched them along the bottom edge (facing each other at the middle front and back to back in the middle back), and added a little contrast band underneath. Because of the legs and face, there was some juggling of 3 colors in a single row for a few rows, and I did normal Fair Isle for the legs, twisting the floats in the gaps, and then when I got to the heads I just cut the yarn and did each face as its own little patch of intarsia. Intarsia in the round normally wouldn’t work, but because the bottom row of the faces is just one stitch, I just pulled the yarn back behind to start the 3-stitch top of the head. A little bit of just “making it work” and it worked pretty well! Here’s the chart I used (using green for the sheep body because I didn’t want to color in the background!).

pepperknit | sheep chart

I knit the six-month size, so hopefully she’ll be able to wear it in the fall, while it’s still the Year of the Sheep. The background yarn is Cascade 220, the sheep’s fluff is Manos (from my Stonecutter), and the legs and face are Universal Deluxe Worsted. I did a three-needle bind-off for the underarms and everything else was done according to pattern. Oh, and I added that sweet little flower to the front in Mrs Crosby’s Carpet Bag.

pepperknit | year of the sheep sweater

pepperknit | year of the sheep sweater

Do you want to knit something sheepy, too? I’ve marked several great patterns on Ravelry and I’m sure I’ll be making more during the year. Obviously you’ll see similarities to my color choices and those in Julia Farwell-Clay’s Welcome to the Flock. I can’t resist all those little stuffed toys too. How will you celebrate the year of the sheep?

2014 in review

How is it that two years in a row I declared it the “year of garment sewing,” but I have only one measly finished garment from 2014 to show? Oh well—maybe 2015 is the year? But even if I didn’t make much clothing (in fact, I had an epic failure of a Moss Mini Skirt), I have plenty of finished handmade goodness to show off! Much of it of course is still not blogged—how is it I resolve every year to blog more and then utterly neglect this space by the end of the year? Anyway, I scrolled through my Lightroom and mentally assessed my whole apartment and discovered I’d made a load of things this year!

pepperknit | finished knits in 2014

Let’s talk knitting. Not much, it’s true, given the continued pain I have in my hands. My first magazine cover, though, which was a particular thrill! I wholeheartedly enjoyed knitting Stonecutter, but the more I think about it the more likely I am to give it to my mother, who will wear it proudly when I am likely to ignore it in my sweater drawer. Those squishy monsters are hopefully making some cute babies happy, and though I really didn’t like my Follow Your Arrow upon completion, I wear it regularly! That pillow needs blogging…

pepperknit | finished sewing in 2014

Boy did I sew more quilts than I thought I did. Three full-sized quilts: two for wedding presents, one for us. Two baby quilts (one yet to be blogged, that I’d like to make into a pattern if I could get my act together to do so). Three minis, a set of coasters, and I threw that one garment in here because it’s made of fabric. I’ve been spending the end of the year slashing through my stash, trying to make a dent in the bins that are full to bursting! I am looking forward to making lots more in the coming year, as I think i’ve really got the hang of this quilting thing now. A year ago I was feeling confident but still like a novice; at this point, I think I know my stuff. My technique for basting still needs some work, and as a result I need lots more practice quilting items, but I do think my entry-level sewing machine is at least partly to blame here. It’s time to start saving up for something bigger and better.

pepperknit | finished embroidery in 2014

But what I hadn’t anticipated upon starting this look-back is just how much embroidery I did in 2014. I love how satisfying it is to complete a project; plus it’s so comparatively fast (not like knitting or quilting!). Some of these are the elaborate quilt labels I made, others were just to be framed on their own, and others were part of a group project—they’ll be incorporated into a quilt or wall hanging. My embroidery supplies are in a completely terrible jumble in a Ziploc bag because it seemed like a lark of a craft, but it seems I do it a lot more than I thought, so I ought to get that organized. Tucked in the corner there are two of the onesies I made for the baby shower of my friend; these are complete no-sew projects that are great activities for a shower!

I don’t think I can express more strongly how surprised I was at my turnout this year when I gathered all the photos together today. Before I figured out how much I’d knit, I started to write my paragraph about it and I could think of only two things off the top of my head. Then I started actually looking, and I found that I finished 9 things!? One of them a highly complex cabled sweater? Yeah, I knit quite a bit. How did I not crochet anything, though?

Here’s to more making in 2015! It’ll be a #yearofmaking!

when good patterns go wrong

In the fall, I started to crave a cushy, cabled sweater. The kind you pull out on a snowy day to sit on the couch and knit. I scoured Ravelry and ultimately settled on Stonecutter. I wasn’t really clear what the shaping at the ribbing was going to do on me, since it clearly does nothing on the modeled shots (and I knew I did not have her body, but still). I looked at finished pieces, and I wasn’t finding any obvious issues.

But I’ve got issues with it.

Pepperknit | Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter

The way the “peplum” hits me makes me look impossibly wide, or rounded in ways that my body is not. Now, I’ve gained some weight in the last year, it’s true—ever-slowing metabolism, working from home, all that fun stuff—but this shape is making me look different than I am! Also even though I knit a larger size, my own issues with rowing out (where my purls are ever-so-slightly looser than my knits) meant an overall tightening up from my swatch, so the whole thing got a little narrower, and thus fits more snugly across the bust than I’d hoped it would.

Pepperknit | Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter

So much else is going for it: the cushiness of Manos, the lovely soft white color (a dye lot issue on the back is something I will just live with and not care; I’m sure when I’m wearing it no one can see where I changed skeins), the warmth! I even enjoyed knitting this quite a bit—even more than a normal knit, because I was knitting it along with my friend Christy Not Hip, and that was fun. I’ve worn it out twice: It looks SO CUTE under a jacket, but if I take that off, I look frumpy.

Pepperknit | Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter

I finished this on my birthday, nearly a month ago, and I haven’t made a peep about it since because I’ve been debating unseaming the entire thing and adding length to the body. (Which, let me note, I already did: I knit a solid extra inch more than what the pattern calls for.) I really, really don’t want to bother unseaming and reknitting anything on it (I’d have to frog to below the arms). But I also really don’t want to wear the sweater as is very much. I’ll give it a few more weeks to decide, I guess.

Pepperknit | Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter

My mom says I should just give it to her; she doesn’t mind it exactly the way it is (though it widens her too). We’ll see.

everything I’m knitting is gray

After a childhood spent wanting to blend into the background as much as was humanly possible—plain, solid non-eye-catching clothing only, please—I’ve come to love color. I wear a lot of different colors, in defiance of the “New Yorkers only wear black” dictum (and heck, I’m not an orignal NYer anyway; I’ve “only” lived here 8 years!). Nearly all of my coats are a bold color. (Though all my clothing is generally still solid. Some things never change.)

But sometimes, goddammit, you just want a gray cardigan. Or a sweater that isn’t such a “statement.” So you start to opt for grays when you’re amassing yarn, whether in a sweater’s quantity or a single skein to contrast with a fun color (in all those two-color shawls, for example). You request a gray cardigan for Christmas (and get two). And then suddenly the next thing you know, all you seem to have is gray yarn on the needles.

surface crochet heart

There’s this, which got a teeny tiny pop of color as an embellishment the other day (and will be photographed in full soon).

gray wip

There’s this, a sweater I started back in March but haven’t worked on since I changed back to knitting English to help my hand pain. This one was started Continental, and I feel as though I should only do it that way lest I have a visible tension change. I’m about 3 inches from done (THREE INCHES) but can’t seem to get back to it (also it hurts too much to work on). It’s going to be cute but kind of dressy, and I so rarely put on actual clothing these days that there’s no real impetus to get it done.

gray wip

And there’s this one, which I’m knitting English specifically in response to the one above, and which I had knit a ton of before taking a hard look and realizing that I was knitting far tighter than I had on the swatch, and it was coming out super small. So I frogged and started over (while at the beach) and have been slowly slogging away at the stockinette ever since. I like having this one on hand, though, because it doesn’t require any thought at all.

colors

But then I’ve got this sitting waiting to be seamed up—I should really take a break from all the gray and play with this loveliness!