A February Friday morning

It’s winter, the time when all good knitters get to work and churn out the knitwear.  I’ve been watching a newly-discovered podcast, “Fruity Knitting”  on YouTube, while working my stitches.  The wintry weather outside makes creating inside an awfully satisfying occupation.

But wait, late last week, our northeast Ohio temperatures hit 75.  Many people had the same idea I had.  Get out there and enjoy the fair weather while you can.  One of my Facebook friends posted a video of her early morning walk around her neighborhood.  That prompted me to post photos from my walk around town that same morning.

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Yup, its 7 am.  The sun is just rising and folks are driving to work.  This is the downtown area of my small, northeast Ohio community.  It is centered on a village green where in olden times, sheep and cows grazed.  Below are some of the buildings on the green.

img_20170224_065941Now,  there were once many churches right on the green but now, only one, Christ Church Episcopal, remains in its original location serving its original purpose.

The others have been repurposed to be the Spiritual Life Center and the town hall.

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One of my all-time favorite shops on the main street

Lopi Love

Spring is here in northeast Ohio.  This morning was possibly the last morning cold enough to persuade Greg to don his Lopi sweater for a photo shoot.  His is the third and last Lopi of the season to come off my needles after a winter-long jag of Icelandic yoked sweaters.

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No, this is not Greg!  This is Garri from Lopi 34
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This is Greg in his Garri.  He likes it!

It all began when my son and daughter-in-law visited Iceland for their honeymoon last October.

They both bought Icelandic yoked sweaters while there.  When they came for Christmas, I drooled over their sweaters.  That pleased them no end because they had brought home Lopi yarn and the pattern book for a Christmas gift for me. Of course, I wanted to make more than the original gift of wool would allow.   The Nordic Store was really quite happy to sell me more yarn to make more than one project.

I got right to work and made Hela for myself.  I think the light green is the only color from the original gift of wool.

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Serious close-up of Janet in Hela

I also bought a kit from Helene Magnusson for a baby yoked sweater.

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Gillipeysa – so cute!

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I can’t resist this closeup of the buttons.

I’ve been saving buttons for years and it was  satisfying to find coordinating ones in my stash.

 

Finally, Greg liked my Hela so much that he asked for a yoked sweater for himself and Garri is the happy result.

I think I’ll give the Icelandic wool a rest for the next few months while the weather is warm.

 

 

Janet’s Customfit Foyle

 

 

Foyle’s Pullover from Customfit by Amy Herzog delivers on the promise of a sweater that will take me to the grocery store, on a hike, to work, to the library.  But wait, I work in a library and I frequently walk to work!  This sweater has been my go-to sweater this January on the coldest of days.  (I could walk to the grocery as well, but usually have more to carry home than I am willing to tote).

I was sold on the Clara Yarn Shetland 1.0 when it came out last year.  A dk weight, it knits up easily.  100% Shetland wool, it proves to be remarkably soft, but I do wear a cotton knit shirt underneath, not only because of the lace “Arches” pattern, but also because there is scratchiness.  I think that is more than made up for by the toasty warmth of the fiber.

This was my first pattern written by Customfit from the measurements I supplied.  The pattern was true to my specifications and the instructions were clear and concise.  I followed the option to knit it flat and after seaming the shoulders and the side seams, I worked the set-in sleeves top-down with short rows.  For this part, I followed the instructions from Kristenlynnea‘s Knitionary blog post “The Perfect Fit:Sleeves”.  One other item about the fit had me curious.  Amy puts waist darts in the back of this pattern, but not in the front.  I’ve noticed a bit of excess fabric in the fack of many of my sweaters and perhaps this would solve that problem.   Unfortunately, I made the sweater with a slightly loose fit, so the back is still not fitted the way I guess Amy intended.  In fact, if I were to make another, I would shorten it and go for a close fit.

All in all, the Customfit process seems a great way to order a pattern that is designed for you.  Give one a try, being sure that you submit true measurements and that you have carefully considered what kind of fit you want.

 

 

 

2014 – A Rundown on the Top Downs

Top down patterns are everywhere.  I decided to learn by doing, after reading some in Barbara Walker’s classic “Knitting From the Top”.  I chose patterns from 3 different designers, Morrocan Nights, Cornhusk Pullover, and Tulipgarden.   An additional  2, Autumn Bloom and Ottoman Crescent were created by me.

I’ve learned that in top-down knitting, the key measurements are the shoulder width and the distance from the top of the shoulder to the underarm.  If I don’t get these two initial measurements right, then the garment will not fit.

Morrocan Oasis 

Moroccan Nights by La Maison Rililie looked like a quick knit and a satisfying garment to wear.  I wanted to learn more about top-down knitting by the doing of it, so I chose this pattern.   I’ve got to say that the sleeves are so tight on my skinny arms that they drag the neckline almost off the shoulder.  I’m pretty sure this is the fault of the knitter and not of the designer!

The yarn, Manos Fino, feels good in the knitting.  Thanks to Helen at Ewes d’Bleu Yarns of Distinction for guiding me to this lovely fiber.  Because it is hand dyed, each skein is-slightly different.  I should have double-balled the entire project.  Instead, I double-balled beginning at the stockinette section of the lower body.  Lucky for me, this worked because of the textured stitch pattern in the upper body disguising the slight difference in dye lots between the skeins.

Mediterranean Oasis
Mediterranean Oasis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Ottoman Crescent

Ottoman CrescentThe 6 snow days we had during the rampaging winter months in 2014 gave me time to work on my own design.  Again, I wanted to learn more about top-down garments and specifically, yoked necklines.  So, using the Ottoman print  (found on Pinterest with a link to the original site) as my inspiration, I graphed the yoke.

The yarn is Sunday Knits Nirvana, Eden, and Angelic and  I do love the softness of her product.  It really is ‘angelic’ or’nirvana’ or like being in ‘Eden’ as this fiber slips through my fingers.  The wearing of it is equally lovely.

The actual finished garment hit a few snags.  I stupidly made the yoke too long (about 10″). DSC00855 To remedy, I cut the top off and added the neckline ribbing!   I decided to knit a few more top-downs from other designers as part of the learning process.

 

 

 

Cornhusk Pullover

DSC00850 (2)Every once in a while, I see a pattern that I feel compelled  to make. Even though it wasn’t top-down,  Ágnes Kutas-Keresztes’ Cornhusk Pullover,  from Interweave Knits Fall 2013, had to be made.      My lovely husband picked up the yarn at Knitters’ Mercantile on his way home from a business trip.    Knit in the round from the bottom up til the underarms, the back stitches are put on a holder, the sleeves are cast on and the rest of front of the garment is knit up to the shoulders and and then worked from the shoulders down the back. At least this part is top down!   The sleeve stitches are cast off.  The lower back is grafted to the upper back and the sleeves are seamed.  Voila.  Project completed.  I love the ombre effect of Kauni Wool 8/2 Effektgarn, especially since there is a nice big band of my power color, orange.

Autumn Bloom

I went to New York in June and did my own personal tour of Manhattan yarn shops.  String was my first stop.  The place was buzzing with knitters sitting around doing their thing.  A Prism trunk show had  Windward Layers in the color “zinnia” that  would not let go of me. I bought enough for a sweater and made up my own  top down design.  This time, I made raglan sleeves and DSC00923a v-neck.

Tulip Garden

Still wanting to experience more top-down knitting, I happened upon a call for test-knitters by HintermStein.  I had never done a test-knit for anyone.  HintermStein’s designs looked nice to me and the results of other knitters seemed successful so I asked if I might join.  Jutta was very kind to allow me a late start on Tulipgarden.  I  realized that while my yarn stash is extensive, I did not have enough worsted-weight yarn in any color to make a complete sweater, even in my small size. In Annapolis, Maryland, I happened upon a new yarn shop, Yarn Basket.  The owner kindly steered me to Berocco Vintage in a caramel color, perfect for this test knit.

Tulipgarden is really well-written.  As the designer states, the sleeve cap fits perfectly.  Of all the top-down knits I’ve made this year, this shoulder and sleeve-cap are the best.  I’ve worn the sweater many times now and always receive compliments.

It has been a great year for knitting top-down.  More to come in 2015.

Tulip Garden

The Hudson Throw

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On the December 30th, with one more week of winter break, I had 114 rows left to go on my Hudson Throw, which had been on the needles since January of 2012!  Could I finish this before I returned to work on January 6?  I usually don’t go public with my resolutions, but thought I might be able to motivate myself by posting this on Facebook.

In order to accomplish this, I went into data analysis mode, calculating the length of time to complete a row (8 minutes), total time required (15.2 hours), and dividing up the knitting time by the number of days remaining in my break (2.1 hours per day).  Then I got to work.  In the wee hours of Sunday, January 5, I completed it.

Strangely, though, I feel sad that it is done.  I first set my eyes on the Sonoma Mountain Wrap at “The Knit Shop” in Aurora, Ohio.  The owner, Edie,  had made hers in another colorway and it sat folded on the checkout counter.  What I loved about it was the drape of the thing.  It lay flat and smooth as linen stitch will do.  Plus, made of Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca, it felt soft and very warm.  I really wanted to make it and helped at a yarn sale to earn the money to buy the yarn.

Made entirely in linen stitch, this was the perfect TV knit.  I watched seasons 1 through 3 of “Downton Abbey” while working this.  I also took in the 2012 and 2013 Tours de France. and innumerable movies with the Greg.  At first, I made a few mistakes and had to rip out, but soon got the rhythm and was able to knit almost without looking (but not quite).

Last night, I watched episode 1 of Downton Abbey’s season 4.  But, I had nothing to knit. What will I do now?

My Knitting Year in Review

Inspired byKristenlynnea and Konrad, I add my review of 2013 in knitting.  These two knitters have really inspired me for 2014 and humbled me as I reflect on my 2013 knitting.  I cannot aspire to that level of production and creativity (or can I?) Watch out 2014!

My Aran pullover

In February, I complete an Aran pullover for TKGA’s Master Knitter Level III .  I love Mission Falls 1824 Wool used for this project.  The bad news is that 1824 Wool is discontinued.    I didn’t submit this sweater because the neckline was poorly planned and executed.  The shaping at the side seams made for a funny silhouette.  The waistline shaping would be better placed in the interior of the front and back.  It’s hard to spend so much time on a garment that doesn’t make the grade.  The learning from this is to plan the heck out of every project.  Leave nothing unplanned.

Alpaca Batwing Top

My daughter and son-in-law gave me enough alpaca yarn spun in England for a sweater.  I decided on Brooke Nico’s #21 Lace Batwing Top from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2013.  Its always fun to work a pattern from Vogue Knitting, just to join the crowd and compare notes on a project.

I made use of the improvements noted by Meg Swanson in the tubular cast-on from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2013. I had to use a heavier waste yarn for one of the strands
in the provisional cast on because my working yarn is so lightweight.  I also lengthened ribbing to 4.5”.

This light and lacy sweater keeps me amazingly warm.

Catkin Hat

My Catkin hat  exists only in this  photo from my front hallway mirror.  Designer Kate Davies suggested the hat as my swatch for the Catkin sweater and I obediently made it.  However, I needed the yarn to complete the sweater, so it was unravelled later in the autumn.

Tea Cosy

Another small project, from Martin Storey’s Terrific Tea Cosy made it off the needles.  I gifted this to my librarian friend who loves tea and the color red.

My Catkin

Kate Davies’ Catkin sweater was one of those patterns that insisted that I buy the yarn and make it now!  However, for me, “now” applies only to online buying.  I can click with the best of them.  baa ram ewe, the lovely shop in Headingly, Leeds, UK, sent my yarn right away.  I downloaded Kate’s pattern from her website.  The actual knitting with fingering weight Titus, took me 5 months.  This project, imported from the UK, travelled with me to the UK this summer during our annual visit to daughter and son-in-law in London.  It then accompanied me through Norway, and returned safely to the US for completion.  The finished object is wonderful, warm, and beautiful.

Amy’s fingerless mitts

Amy’s fingerless mitts were my last finished object for the year, designed by me.  They are double-knit and therefore reversible.  The Norwegian star pattern, a traditional motif, commemorates our trip to Norway.  I made 2 other versions of these before settling on this one.  The funny thing about this is that I inadvertently put these in Emily’s stocking at Christmas instead of Amy’s!  As with anything I create, I have ideas for a new and improved version to give to Amy.

Compared to Kristenlynnea and Konrad, my year is review is quite brief, but it is fun to look back on what has been accomplished.  Perhaps when I retire, I can ramp up the knitting.  Meanwhile, I thank them both for inspiring me to write this entry.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Did anyone say “New Year’s Resolution”?  Did anyone make one?  I have and it is to complete my Master Knitter Level III administered by The Knitting Guild Association.  I have everything done except the 2 projects, a sweater and a hat.  If you haven’t heard of the Master Knitter Program, it is a great opportunity for expanding your knowledge and practice of the craft of knitting.