Archive for the ‘cables’ Category

Exercise Before Knitting Gifts

Exercise Before Knitting Gifts? Yes, go out for a little jog before committing to that queen-sized afghan for your cousin’s child’s girlfriend’s dorm room! Or, use the coupon code EXERCISEBEFOREKNITTINGGIFTS in my Ravelry pattern shop to buy 2 patterns and receive the 3rd free! The promotion will end 12/31/2010.

Otherwise, check out the Holiday and Winter issues of Interweave Knits for some new Exercise Before Knitting designs. These two colorwork patterns for Interweave Knits Holiday were inspired by that old Latvian mitten book I found last year.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

Slanted Peerie Mittens feature a more unusual stranded pattern, one that moves diagonally across the fabric. The design reminded me of ribbons and wrapping paper, a good motif for the holidays. Although these have three different colors of yarn, the little bits of red are actually duplicate stitched on once the knitting is completed.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

Parallax Hat came about as I went looking for an easy stranded pattern to work at worsted weight into a pointy little elf-like cap. I am mad for the spiral top on hats in general, and I think it looks even better in colorwork. Consequently, I made the two-color spiral the heart of the design, then worked out the rest from there.

Tuckernuck Cardigan, a baby/child (3 mos – 5 yrs) pattern appearing in Interweave Knits Winter 2010, comes with a bit of history.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

While we impatiently awaited the arrival of baby #2 this time last fall, I thought I would pass the time in part by knitting Beatrix a big sister sweater with lots of lovely cables. Intending to self-publish the finished product, I sketched out the design, set up a spreadsheet, planned a list of sizes, and then powered through the knitting. Baby Odysseus interrupted my seaming, so this sat untouched for a few months. I finished it just as I was packing away our winter woolens. When someone from Interweave asked if I had any children’s patterns for Winter 2010, I sent off my sketches.

Normally, I dread selecting buttons because I have an incredible knack for making extremely poor button choices. One of my coping strategies is to ask other shoppers in the store what they think of my button choice. Did you know most knitters and sewers love choosing buttons? They do. AND they’re usually quite good at it, don’t you think? These particular buttons pleased me very much. They look great with the gray yarn, and don’t detract from the cables at all.

I realize many people do not want to think about baby or kids’ patterns, but I maintain the set-in sleeve is worth the (small) trouble. Well fitting knits look great on children, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for some more gift ideas, namely a pair of Latvian-inspired mittens from Twist Collective!

Hallett’s Ledge

Didn’t I tell you twist collective’s Fall 2010 issue would be amazing? If you have not yet seen the 30 beautiful patterns, I encourage you to check them out! I feel so honored that my latest design, Hallett’s Ledge, is included among them. Allow me to share some of twist’s photos, taken by the talented Jane Heller. Hallett’s Ledge is a modern interpretation of a fisherman-style sweater. It takes its name from a shoal in Nantucket Sound, off the southern coast of Cape Cod.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

Knitted in Rowan Felted Tweed Aran, Hallett’s Ledge is a tailored and textured women’s cardigan that will prove both interesting to knit and easy to wear. The garment employs ribbing below the empire waist, garter eyelet rows marking the empire waist and echoed at the elbow, and an interesting cable pattern at the bust, upper back, and upper arms. It is intended to be worn with about 2″ of positive ease at the bust.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

The body is worked in one piece from the bottom to the armholes, after which point the fronts and back are treated separately. The close fitting sleeves are knitted in the round to the armhole, and then the sleeve cap is worked flat and sewn into the body. The neck band and button bands are picked up and knitted onto the body.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

This was another project I swatched last fall, hoping to create a modern, flattering interpretation of an aran sweater for women. As you may know, it is my firmly held opinion that heavily cabled garments should be trim fitting, with as little excess fabric as possible, due to the weight and bulk of the cabled stitch pattern. After all, there is nothing worse than a heavy, droopy, bag-shaped, boxy sweater. Nothing!

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

I received my yarn only days after learning we would be moving 800 miles away in less than a month’s time. Consequently, I did all of my math and worked out pattern sizing before we left, and knitted the bulk of the garment on the road between Kansas and Ohio. Let me tell you, this was the most compelling sight along the interminably dull trek!

The sweater itself knitted up quite quickly, although blocking took forever (DAYS!) because our washing machine had not yet been delivered to our new house. Who blocks the old-fashioned way? The spin cycle reduces drying time a hundred fold!

Of course, as with any ribbed garment, blocking is key. Look at the difference between the shriveled up in-progress body and the neatly blocked one.

Because the ribbing shrunk up so much on itself, I also aggressively pinned down the button bands.

The design element I love most about the garment is the centered cable running down the top of the sleeve. I love the symmetrical look of centered sleeve cables; consequently, I use them frequently.

As with the sleeves, the cabling on the upper back is also centered.

This requires a bit more math to set up the stitch pattern, but I feel it’s math worth doing. After all, I did not suffer through 7th grade algebra for nothing! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me algebra could be so handy?

Although I intended 2″ of positive ease at the bust for this cardigan, I had to try on my sample despite it being a size too small for me! As you can see, this is a much closer fit (roughly 1″ of negative ease at the bust) on me.

I do think the drape is better with positive ease, although your mileage may vary.

For more information about the pattern itself or to purchase a copy, please see the pattern page at twist collective. I hope you enjoy it! Please be sure to check out all the other lovely patterns, articles, and photos in the Fall 2010 issue. There are stunning works from many of my favorite designers in this issue!

Point Gammon Pullover

Last winter, back when I was really pregnant, hopped up on hormones, and a little bit crazy, I sketched out 483902734890294023573489573489 ideas for future knitting patterns. Next, I proceeded to do something a woman preparing for many sleepless months with a newborn and a likely move thereafter should not have considered: I submitted several full-sized sweater ideas along with a battery of stranded mittens and hats. I don’t know what I was thinking, but fortunately (and, quite miraculously), everything worked out well.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Point Gammon Pullover, published in Interweave Knits, Fall 2010, is the first in a series of works that will appear in the coming months, the result of my knitting in the middle of the night with a new baby, en route to medical school interviews, and while laid up after tearing my calf muscle playing soccer. I knitted like a fiend this winter and spring, and I cannot wait to share my projects with you!

Copyright Interweave Knits

This follows in a series of cabled knits inspired and named for the waters I sailed on Cape Cod, Massachusetts as a child. Point Gammon is a somewhat obscure lighthouse marking the outcrop of Great Island into Nantucket Sound; it is a point reachable only by sea, as the land upon which it sits is private. Growing up on Lewis Bay, the bay whose entrance the lighthouse announces, Point Gammon Light seemed at once both intimately familiar and utterly foreign to me. I always admired the peculiar structure, wished I could see it up close, and wondered what the view must have been like from the other side of the bay, the private, off-limits side.

I designed this pullover with the lighthouse in mind, intending the central cables to evoke a lighthouse beacon.

In keeping with the ocean theme, I placed netting cables up the sides. In my opinion, both cables that extend from bottom hem to neckband and cabling at the underarm in place of a seam signal a well planned, hand knitted garment. Any machine can churn out a cabled something or other, sew it up the sides, and slap on disjointed bands. Cabling done well should be difficult to recreate in a factory.

The fit is trim (i.e., 2″ of positive ease, if I recall correctly); both the ribbing and the set-in sleeves emphasize this. As I have said before, despite the traditional form, you will not find any drop shoulders around these parts, thank you very much. The sleeves are little more than basic rib sleeves with cables interspersed at the same intervals as on the body, with one cable running down the center of the sleeve. I love symmetry, I can’t help it.

While it may appear difficult to work out how to run the cables into the neckline like this, it is not very hard. Once I determined how many repeats of the cable pattern I wanted down the front, I centered the repeated section, then held stitches at the base of the neck instead of binding off and picking up for the neckline.

One benefit of a side cable is that it can be completely bound off at the underarm, so there is nothing left to keep track of. And, it looks complicated while completely avoiding the question of how to treat the seam. Although it makes shaping more difficult, one could certainly work decreases along the flanks of the side cable. I briefly contemplated making a shaped version for me, but you know I never knit anything twice unless I have to, right? Of course.

Because Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes was unfamiliar to me at first, I knitted a positively gigantic swatch. I do not feel terribly confident about my gauge with refined, luxury fibers, as the fabrics knitted in those fibers often grow. I swatched, I measured, I washed, I measured, I blocked, I measured. Anticipating this post, I thought I would show a picture of the pre-blocked body (missing sleeves, of course). It was so tiny, despite needing to fit a man (albeit not a large man).

Before washing and blocking, it had a 30″ chest.

After blocking, the chest measured 36.75″. Be wise: swatch aggressively and believe in your swatch, do not second guess yourself!

I thought I would include a photo of the underside of the sleeve blocking. Is there a secret to getting ribbed increases to block to straight lines? I can never make mine perfect!

Let us take a minute to discuss the yarn, shall we? Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Hand Dyes might be the nicest yarn I have ever – or will ever – work with. Once I finished the garment, I had to try it on, even though there was no way it would fit me well. I have told anyone who will listen that wearing a sweater made in this yarn feels like wearing a hug. I have one sweater’s worth of it in my stash, which I am saving for The Best Sweater in the History of Time; the yarn really deserves the perfect pattern.

Initially, I worried it would be too heavy for a men’s cabled pullover, as its yds per gram ratio is only 1. For other worsted weight yarn comparisons: Cascade 220 has 2.2 yds/gram; Berroco Blackstone Tweed 2.6 yds/gram; Harrisville Designs New England Highland  has 1.9 yds/gram. Thus, for the same yardage as another worsted weight sweater, Worsted Hand Dyes yields a garment that is twice as heavy. Indeed, the finished product is heavier, but it’s one of the things I loved most about the fit. There’s a sentence I never expected to write, but it is absolutely true. I think its weight combined with its softness make you feel as if you just wrapped yourself in the most lovely cocoon that could possibly exist. It’s expensive – very expensive – but as the cheapest knitter you will ever meet, I say it’s worth it if the pattern is perfect for you.

On that note, I hope some men out there find this pattern perfect for them! As for the rest of you, go check out the rest of Interweave Knits Fall 2010 (or see it on Ravelry) – it is the best issue in ages! I could make full-time work of knitting all the sweaters I want to make in this one issue alone!

Hedge Fence Pullover

Center cable, Hedge Fence Pullover

For as long as I can remember, I have been searching for the perfect cabled pullover. Sometimes, I wonder if this is the real reason I learned to knit. I have very strong opinions about aran-style sweaters. As far as I am concerned, they must

1.) feature symmetrically placed cables;

2.) be heavily cabled, but not be so overwrought so as to include bobbles or a waffle stitch cable;

3.) include some kind of set-in sleeve (no matter how traditional the drop shoulder, I find it sloppy and droopy looking)

4.) not include a mock turtleneck;

5.) not be knit with 10″ of ease;

6.) not make me look 30 lbs heavier.

Is that so much to ask of a sweater? Off the top of my head, Lucy Sweetland’s Lillian and a bobble-less version of Kim Hargreaves’ Demi are the only ones I can think of that come close  – both are in my queue to knit! I have yet to make a sweater that satisfies all of these criteria, but I think this new pattern comes close to meeting my standards.

Front view, Hedge Fence Pullover

Aaron owns and wears more sweaters than anyone I know (knitters included). Unfortunately, it is difficult to find a store-bought sweater to properly fit a very tall, thin man with monkey arms. If something fits in the chest, the arms and body are 4″ too short. If the arms and body are long enough, the body is impossibly wide. Consequently, most of his sweaters are ill-fitting and gigantic. He has been asking for a cabled pullover for years and indeed, I have always wanted to make him something that actually fits. However, I could not find the right pattern. More importantly, I doubted whether he would actually wear what I made him. After all, he has been wearing too-big clothes all his life. Once, when I convinced him to try on a 40″ shirt, he reacted like a cat with tape on its paws. “It’s so tight, I don’t think I could concentrate,” he protested, as he squirmed around in 7″ of positive ease. Sometimes, I wonder if he thinks my clothes fit like spandex. I refused to knit him a sweater as ill-fitting as anything he could buy. But after years of listening to him talk about wanting a handmade cable sweater, last summer, I decided it was time to give it a go. I took some cable patterns from stitch dictionaries and put them together until I found a combination I liked.

Side view, Hedge Fence Pullover

I measured his favorite sweater and found it to have a 46″ chest, 13″ larger than his 33″ chest measurement. We split the difference, and I planned a 39″ size. With still 6″ of ease, I had to aggressively decrease at the armholes to achieve a fitted shoulder width. We are both delighted with the result. I know this pullover will enter Aaron’s winter sweater rotation. And if it doesn’t, there’s always divorce.

Hedge Fence Pullover

Pattern: Hedge Fence Pullover

Yarn: Ram Wools Selkirk (which is really Briggs & Little Regal, don’t ask me why there are two different names for the same yarn) in Brown Heather, 7 skeins

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)

I am happy to offer the unisex pattern in 12 sizes: 31 (33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43, 46, 49, 51, 53, 55)”. The garment takes its name from Hedge Fence Shoal, a shallow sandbar on the far west side of Nantucket Sound, just northeast of Martha’s Vineyard. I have been contemplating a series of fisherman-style sweaters and I decided to go with a naming scheme based on the waters I sailed so much as a child.

The pattern is available as a Ravelry download for $8.50.

The body and sleeves of the garment are knit in the round to the armholes, after which point the knitting is done back and forth. The only seaming required is the sewing in of the sleeve cap. The shoulders are joined by a three-needle bind-off, the underarm stitches are grafted together, and stitches are picked up around the neck for the neckline ribbing. The pattern comes with text instructions, a set of body charts for each size, and a set of sleeve charts for each size. None of the cable instructions are written out – they are all charted. In addition, I have included several pages of notes on how to modify the pattern to achieve the best fit for your body while maintaining the integrity of the center cable panel. Fortunately, the side cables are small enough to allow for quite a lot of flexibility in terms of sizing. The only real challenge in modifying the pattern is to ensure the center cable still flows cleanly into the ribbing at the bottom edge and neckline.

Hedge Fence Pullover

More information about the pattern and a detailed schematic can be found on the Hedge Fence Pullover page or on the Ravelry pattern page.

More photos of the finished garment here.