April 23, 2015

20 It's a Cable, It's an I-Cord... No, It's Superknitter!

"Superknitter", you ask, with eyebrows dutifully raised?  Yes!  While I'm not about to show you a knitted cape, I don't mind calling myself a superhero when it comes to finishing my "yearly masterpiece".  Every year I choose a crazy complex knit to occupy myself with.  The criteria includes new techniques, a grueling number of hours and, invariably (sigh), a bajillion ends to weave in.

Last year my "masterpiece" was Anatolia, a fair-isle piece using 4 colors at the same time.

This year, I chose Shiri Mor's Fretwork Pullover, from Vogue Knitting Fall 2014.  How could I NOT -- look at this!!

Instantly I asked, wait wait wait, are those cables?  The holes in between the "cabling" didn't compute, cabling doesn't leave an empty background!  Also, it would be impossible to move a cable over so much distance, the width is simply too great...

Well then, were they woven i-cords??  That sounded like a nightmare... Elizabeth Zimmerman might call them "idiot cords" but I'd prefer to call them "imp cords", because they are so.freaking.annoying.

It turns out that it's the best of both worlds: the panels are created by knitting long 4-stitch strips (they fold on themselves only to look like i-cord) and reserving them on little locking holders for weaving when the time comes.

Once you understand the concept, the actual knitting is not that hard to do.  You really are just knitting one side until you have enough knitting 'real estate' to start the weaving process to take you to the other side.  Once there, you start knitting that side only, and go until you get to the same height.

Just make sure that you are not afraid of Giant Squids:

Posted on Reddit by gabemart

And here I must pause to give a shout out to Shiri Mor.  I mean, woman?  You amaze me.  Putting aside the jaw-dropping look of the piece, the fit, the creativity... how did you get the courage to write this down for the benefit of us knitters?!  I mean, even if I had the idea (unlikely), I would shy away for fear of trying to write this out.  I need to thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the gumption to give us the chance to knit this astonishing piece.  Without designers like you, there would be no interesting stuff coming from the likes of me, ever.

If you would like to tackle this piece, start with the small side panel as recommended.  This will give you a small project to test if you can understand the technique.  Please note that at the end of the panels (there are 6 total, plus the sleeves), you will be left to your own devices to figure out how to finish it.

Embody the criss-cross and you will get through...

DON'T LOSE HOPE.  I had this grand idea to write it out for everyone, but sadly, I am no Shiri Mor.  I will give you a hint though: the number of rows of each strip that you need at the end is actually exactly the number of rows you start each strip with.

Additionally, I'd like to add that the armhole is not the best shape.  Actually I should say that, however I managed it was not the best shape.  Do you see all this extra fabric I had at the back?

It actually made the armhole too large for the sleeve to fit in.  So, I decided to remove material by making a new hem.

To get rid of the extra material and bulk, I followed the same method I used in this post.

This is a fitted pullover with negative ease.  I made the smallest size and used a larger needle than required.  You can see how slim the sleeves are.  Readytoknit has just finished her beautiful Fretwork Pullover, and she gives valuable info about picking your size on her blog, should you want to dive in.

As for the yarn -- I used Bergere de France's Berlaine... the color is so lovely, but the yarn is a tad underspun and bit itchy.  I really do have to wear something under -- and that will be the fun part.  What color do you wear?  Here I have gray, but it would change to a completely different look with white or a color!  How fun is that?

If you want to challenge yourself, pick this pattern.  If you love the look of cables but hate cables, pick this pattern!  I'm not a cabling fan and I just loved this project.  In fact, I was in mourning when it was done.  The weaving was particularly exciting -- except when I screwed up and didn't notice until it was far too late!  This happened four times, actually.  Don't fear... you can fix it!!!!

Also, some people have switched the cable direction of the side panels to mirror them.  You know what?  There is so much going on in this pullover, it's really not something you need to mess around with.  I understand the knitting OCD, believe me.  But for once in my life I'm going to say this: it's not important, just enjoy the pattern exactly as it is written.

(And now I will regret those words, as they will come back at me next time I mess around, ha!)

See My Not Cabled Sweater on Ravelry


I had 172 entries, holy moly!  The winner, by random number generator, is laineyhf!

Congratulations Elaine, you will not be disappointed with your gradient mini-skeins by Seven Sisters Arts.  For the rest of you, I know it's sad not to be Elaine today, but don't worry.  You can be just like her and use this coupon code to get 10% off a purchase of the yarn you really wanted!


And now for some house updates.  Let's start with the bad news.  The new butcher block for the island came, this time cut to the right size, but now with a split in the wood and a dented corner and top.  So depressing.

Also, we had some kind of unexpected hurricane thingy come through and a window screen dented beyond repair, and the storm door we screwed up with the harrowing couch move blew open and ruined the lovely new vent we had installed for the stove.  Ugh, this stuff just puts me down.  Fixing old things on a list?  Fine.  Fixing stuff we didn't know was on the list?  Fine.  Fixing stuff WE JUST INSTALLED???  NOT FINE.

So moving on: the good news is that my Mystery Garden is growing!  I have never seen anything there but dry sticks, and so it is very exciting to poke around and try to guess what is going on.  If you have any input, I'd love love love to know your thoughts.

Big strong sticks, not easy to cut.

Bulbs and leaves growing at the bottom of the sticks...

Tulip like leaves, but too early?

I've got a lot of these.

And a lot of these.

A bush that already has beautiful reddish leaves... some dried hydrangea like flowers on the ground.

Only one of these fan-like shoots.
Early flowers.

A different early flower.

I'm guessing daffodils.

Only one of these.
Inspired by Knitionary, I planted a rose bush: "Chicago Peace".  Wish it some luck, she'll need it!

Stay tuned for a lovely spring linen knit, a crazy use of yarn scraps and a cardigan with a very interesting construction... and once again, thank you so much for visiting to enter the giveaway!

If you don't want to miss my crazy knits or other giveaways:

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April 14, 2015

251 GIVEAWAY! Win A Set of Gradient Mini Skeins from Seven Sisters Arts

These beauties could be yours!

As you may know, I have recently moved to Downeast Maine, which I am quickly learning is a crafting mecca. Everyone seems to have some astonishing crafting skill up their (hand-knitted) sleeve, and it took maybe 5 minutes of working my new job before I was ushered, escorted and introduced to the weekly cafeteria knitting group!

Of course, as homework for properly integrating into the knitting society here, I've been sniffing out yarn purveyors.... and true to Maine form, this fabulous hand-dyer found me before I found her! (It turns out that she used to live on the fascinating abandoned property behind my house that has many stories to tell, but that's for another day...)

Seven Sisters Arts is a hand-dyer based in lovely Blue Hill, Maine a bit west of Bar Harbor.

This is a new leg in Karen's journey as a hand-dyer, as she's been spinning and dyeing for over 30 years, and believe me she knows what she is doing! I was lucky enough to visit the gorgeous 19th century house where she will open her Seven Sisters Arts storefront on June 13 (mark your calendars Mainers and tourists). The event was a "yarn tasting", and it was delicious.  Seven Sisters Arts is putting a ton of elbow grease into renovating this home, and it is just the loveliest place for a yarn shop.

The Meridian you see above is what Seven Sisters Arts will be giving away to one lucky reader! It is a fingering weight yarn, 75% superwash merino and 25% nylon. Ideal for socks and shawls, my friends. The giveaway is for the Ravens Wing Color Shift of a special gradient mini-skein kit she makes.

Note that the blue skein on the right is actually turquoise, and the pink is more of a dark magenta.

Surprisingly, only two dyes are progressively mixed to give color to each of the six skeins. And you can always be ready for some thoughtful shade names with Seven Sisters Arts (did you notice some yarn names from "Sisters" of the Pleiades star cluster?). The Raven's Wing colorway is named for the iridescent colors on raven feathers: sometimes purple, blue or teal.

  • Beltran - a word of Old Germanic origin meaning “bright raven”
  • Branwen -Welsh for “beautiful raven”
  • Karasu - Japanese for raven, Corvus - Latin for raven or crow
  • Tulugaak -Inuit for raven
  • Renshaw - Old English for “raven of the forest"

From the Seven Sisters Arts website: 

Many of Seven Sisters’ colors are dyed at the same intensity or saturation resulting in a palette of colors that coordinate and work well together for colorwork or gradient knitting, some are dyed at lighter intensities and they are noted as “little sister of…” under product details. COLOR SHIFT series are sets of colors that shift or move from one color to another with intermediate gradations so that they are all related and harmonize, i.e. the Raven’s Wing series colors shift from a magenta to a teal and the colors in between are a combination of both.

And look what you can make with this ~920 yard/200g set! This is Radiant Gradient by Susan Ashcroft using the Raven's Wing colorway.

Shawl knit by Sismademeknit on Ravelry

Or how about Fiar by Irishgirlieknits?

And now you totally want to have this, right?

To win this mini-skein kit:

Leave a comment telling me your favorite colorway of yarn from SevenSistersArts.com
and make sure to leave a way I can reach you (Ravelry name, blog, Facebook, etc.)
Drawing is on April 22, 2015.

and while you're there, here's a 10% off coupon code to use on a purchase:

(limit one per customer)

I know I know, clicking is hard. So I thought I'd finish by tempting you with more of her amazing yarn....

More examples of Meridian.

Celaeno, silk and mohair.

I hope you'll visit Seven Sisters Arts.  Karen is doing yarn show and festival tours until the store opens this summer.  If you are in the area, see everything in person or keep up to date with locations and KALs in her Ravelry group.  Happy drooling!

Stitches South, Nashville April 23-26
Maine Fiber Frolic, Windsor June 6-7
Storefront Grand Opening, Blue Hill June 13

April 9, 2015

21 On Saving Knits From The Black Hole In Your Closet

Today I have one goal: to inspire you to take that frustrating knit you want so much to love and rescue it from an untimely demise!  Just think of all that grueling work you put into it (never mind the $$$$)...  How is it that we can work like shoemaker's elves on something only to watch it sink down to the bottom of the usable sweater stack?

I finished #03 Embellished V-Neck by Leah Sutton (Vogue Knitting Fall 2006) back in 2007.  I fell in love with the deep V and the little lace flounces at the hip.  I even used the yarn they called for, because I wanted it to be exactly the same.

Years later when I finally posted it on Ravelry, I hoodwinked everyone and used this picture.

BUT IT WAS ALL A LIE!!  This picture manages to hide a plethora of issues I had with the pullover, leading it to live its life as a gravitational singularity: never seeing the light of day and sucking all knitting pleasure out of its surroundings.  Yeah, this black hole of a knit really bothered me.  Here is the TRUTH:

PROBLEM #1: The sleeve caps.  Oh my -- they were just so BIG.  There is a football player pad worth of extra fabric at the sleeve cap, seriously.  Check out Ravelry, everyone has the same problem, the sleeve cap is wrong, just plain wrong.

PROBLEM #2: This is probably tied into the sleeve cap problem, but the shoulders were so loose that they couldn't keep the deep V-neck up.  Basically, I had to adjust a gap that always appeared and there is nothing worse than adjusting a knitted piece all day.  Better just not to wear it!

PROBLEM #3: If you are going to use über-warm Suri alpaca to make a sweater -- don't make 3/4 sleeves!  It's far too warm for interim weather -- but you need to cover your forearms in cold weather.  This piece is basically never wearable!

PROBLEM #4: For some bizarre reason, the only trim extending to the back was at the waist... so you have this lovely lace front and then a messy back edge that has rolling stockinette??  no no no.

I have been guilty of frogging or giving away a lot of my knits, at least 15 pieces have been banished from my closet for not being worn.  And I don't regret any of them -- because seeing the 'beaded' eyes of an unworn knit staring back at me on every trip to the closet infuriates me!

But I wasn't ready to let this one go.

Let's start with the most egregious problem, the sleeve caps.  Since I wanted long sleeves too, I just thought I'd abandon the pattern and go to my slim, fitted sleeve standby: picked-up short-row top-down sleeves.  I've used these a number of times and always am really satisfied with the results.  The formula I use is in this post.

I didn't have enough leftover yarn to do the new sleeves in new yarn, so I had to re-use the frogged yarn, which after 8 years was croaking pretty loud.  I was worried that the lumpiness would not go away, but it turned out that a good soak and a lot of smoothing down during blocking did the trick.  You'd never know that I re-used the yarn!

I also cuffed the sleeve in garter stitch to put greater emphasis on the waist and v-neck garter elements.

To help keep the shoulders up, I added a simple crochet chain between the two shoulder seams.  This kept the back crochet trim tight on the neck, and also kept it upright.

To really nail the Slipping Off Your Shoulders coffin shut, I also sewed the V-neck up a little higher.  This makes it tighter, but it's worth it!  

The final touch was making another trim to hide the rolling back.  By the way, I am using the wrong side of the trims compared to the pattern, because they look better.

And there you go -- a drowning knit is saved from certain demise.  Yessssss!

See my Saved From the Frog Pond on Ravelry

And now it's time for some house news!!

First off, we received our kitchen island pieces.... aaaaand the butcher block was cut to the wrong size and one of the cabinets was warped.  WAT?!  Very not thrilled to be waiting another 6 weeks for this.  But fortunately they are letting us use the bad pieces while we wait, so we already have a nice set-up going (see Negroni ingredients on top)!  Check out our adjustable stools from Target.com, I really love them.

Second, we bought a sectional couch for our cinema room.... THAT WAS TOO BIG TO GO UP THE STAIRS.   Total nightmare!  We had to remove a bannister (and scratched the laminate floor doing it), the closet doors, the front storm door (breaking it, how nice), the molding around the entryway (denting it) and the feet from the sofa...  AND FINALLY IT WENT IN.  Many bruises were acquired, this thing was 8 feet long!

But yeah, it looks awesome.  :)  Next step will be installing the projector in the ceiling and constructing a coffee table.  I'll wait till it's all ready to show you a nice daylight pic.

Yes, we are re-watching The Wire, the best TV show ever created.

We splurged on the Iranian rug... (time to find a better upholstery fabric for the built in)

...and then found a fab modern wool rug for a fraction of the price for the bedroom...

Finally, we had someone in to design a closet system -- we have two big walk-ins with nothing in them except a pole.  And the kicker is the pole is too wide for most hangers!!  Bizarre.  Here's the plans and yeah, the HERS closet is much bigger, hee hee.  Check out all those shelves for sweaters!



Maine is still a wasteland, but I've heard of crocus sightings and there are robins everywhere.  Next week I'll be posting a giveaway of some beautiful hand-dyed yarn from Seven Sisters Arts in Blue Hill, Maine.  Follow my Facebook Page if you don't want to miss your chance to win!

Or just follow my blog:

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