Archive for the ‘manly knitting’ Category

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.

Day projects

Top view, XOXO hat

In a blaze of stash busting this week, I whipped out two hats, one for my brother and the other for his girlfriend. I had almost forgotten the thrill of seeing a project to completion in less than a day. I love knitting hats! Why do I not knit hats exclusively? Perhaps if I wore hats myself, I would knit more of them. Still, they are so much fun to make.

XOXO hat

About once a year, I knit my brother a nice, warm hat in a dark color. However, single-color hats are so dreadfully boring to knit! And since I only wear hats when it is really, really cold, I find hats with a single thickness of wool utterly insufficient. The only solution worth my time is, of course, a stranded project. When I saw Tuulia’s beautiful Alise Mittens (Ravelry link), I decided to use a similar XOXO pattern in a hat. You may find a link to my free hat pattern here but really, all you need is the 8 stitch x 8 row pattern repeat and a little common sense.  Alternating gray and black provided enough visual interest for the knitter while the overall effect is dark and subtle. After all, my brother does not need a hat that screams, “My sister made this!” I also knit a 2.5″ lining to be tucked inside the brim for extra warmth around the ears.

XOXO hat for my brother

Pattern: XOXO Hat (Ravelry link here)

Yarn: Approximately 200 yds of worsted weight for each color; I used Bemidji Woolen Mills Original Homespun (in some shade of dark gray) and Knit Picks Wool of the Andes (in “Coal”)

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm), either DPNs or DPNs and 16″ circular

XOXO hat

My scrap bag is rife with browns: coffee, taupe, chocolate, mocha, chestnut, tan, you name it, it’s brown. All year, I have been meaning to put my scraps to good use and knit a Chevron Love Hat by Knitterly Things’ Julia. The chevron mittens Julia made for Maritza at our October mitten swap only further convinced me: I need to knit zigzags. Finally, with the array of brown scraps in front of me, it was time. I knit this one up for my brother’s girlfriend last weekend. I could not be more pleased with the result! It’s a good thing I have plenty of brown left over because I see another chevron hat in my future! Julia’s pattern is easy and fun and the knitting flies by! I heartily recommend this one to anyone interested in using up leftovers!

Chevron Love Hat

Pattern: Chevon Love Hat (Ravelry link)

Yarn: a mix of Rowan Magpie Aran, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, Top of the Lamb Lionspun, Plymouth Encore Worsted.

Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)

The fiber content is not entirely pure: this hat has some acrylic blends in it. I doubt it will be much of a problem; after all, winter hats are not routinely tossed in the dryer, are they? These zigzags are my favorite! Thanks for the wonderful pattern, Julia!

Brown chevrons

Well? What are you waiting for? Go stash busting and knit some quick hats!

Gentleman’s Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern

I know what you’re thinking, right? Didn’t you just see a pair just like this a few weeks back? Knee socks? Really? In August? Who knits knee socks in July and August? Well, I do. And I am not alone: Christy and Joyousknits both finished this same pattern in July and Sarah started on a pair too.
Knee socks in 5.5 days

These were the fastest socks I have ever knit: the pair took only five and a half days! Sadly, their rapid production says little about my speed a lot about the hours I spent glued to my books! As a bonus, I can cross off another Knitting Vintage Socks pattern: seven down, only 17 to go!

Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern

Pattern: Gentleman’s Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks

Yarn: Opal Uni in #1415

Needles: US 1.5

I did not alter the pattern at all and I found it to fit perfectly. I most certainly will use this stitch pattern again; it was fast and easy to memorize, involved little purling and produced a firm and not too stretchy fabric. I doubt I will even need to run elastic through the cuffs to keep these socks up but only wear will tell. And isn’t the texture of this stitch pattern wonderful?

Cool ribbing

The calf shaping briefly appeared to be too high but the socks fit remarkably well. I imagine the aggressive calf shaping placed higher up the leg contributes to keeping these socks up.

Calf shaping

I cannot speak highly enough of this sock pattern. Leave it to Nancy Bush to use a terribly simple stitch pattern to create a snug, well shaped and attractive sock. While not too exciting to knit, this is ideal if you need a good, mindless, on the go sock pattern.

While I have more finished products waiting to be blogged, I thought I would leave you with a preview of some current work. I’m a bit disappointed that I have blogged only finished objects this summer. When I read knit blogs, I almost prefer reading works in progress posts over finished object posts, if only because I learn more from them. In the spirit of blogging WIPs as well as FOs, here are a few of the ongoing projects I have right now:

Almost to the armholes

Aaron’s Aran is almost to the armhole divide but progress slowed to a halt when I had to rip a few inches. My love for this project has waned a bit purely because I loathe the Addi Lace needles I bought for it. I suppose some people must like brass needles but all I smell is metal: my hands, my yarn and my needles all reek of that awful, metallic smell. Ugh! I still love the sweater so I will finish it this fall but I will never buy another brass needle as long as I live.

Beginnings of a tweedy yoked baby sweater

I cast on for a tweedy yoked baby sweater to use up some New England Harrisville yarn I bought to swatch Aaron’s Aran. I will likely need to buy more yarn – so much for a stash buster project, right?

The unending Katharine Hepburn cardi

The dullest knitting project Katharine Hepburn Cardigan progresses slowly, in large part because of the painfully boring stitch pattern. The back is done and blocked but I only have half of one front done.

One Fascine Braid sock down, one to go

ONE! Fascine Braid sock by Tiennie! Go get this pattern! It’s free, easy and pretty! I only wish I had chosen a color other than brown – the pattern is barely visible with this yarn.

Irregular squares

A collection of irregular squares (pieced with scrap fabrics) for a quilt. This is a gift so I likely will not blog much about it until I finish.

Next time, there will be some more sewing FOs and a visit by Jennie!

A decision

Thanks for all of your input on the size I should choose for Aaron’s sweater! What a dilemma. After listening to the pros and cons of each size, Aaron assured me that he will wear any size I make. I agree with many of you that meeting halfway is probably fair enough so I cast on for the 41″ size.
the endless aran

I really enjoy the knitting; however, my knitting time has been all but replaced by a looming MCAT test date of August 7th.
My life sucks right now.

I’m worried. Mostly because our childcare is going to be limited in July, we’re traveling to Cincinnati this weekend and Aaron has some big projects due at the end of the month. And because I scored low on the physics sections of my last two practice tests. Help! It looks like I will be working through a lot of physics problems in the next five weeks. I really want to score well enough to not have to retake the exam. Is that too much to ask?