What a sweet little sweater! I say little, but the wonderful thing (there are actually quite a few wonderful things) about Tin Can Knits is that their patterns are written for SO MANY DIFFERENT SIZES! It is wonderful. This simple sweater is written from sizes 0-6 months to adult 4XL. It is a seamless, top down sweater that is part of their Simple Collection. This collection is a series of free patterns that walk you through all the basic skills you need to be a proficient knitter. While it is technically a "beginner" series, the patterns are really well written and great, quicker projects for more experienced knitters. With my little one on the way, I was looking for a nice project I could knit up between some of my other, more monstrous projects. I love that it is seamless; in my experience, babies do not like seams.
I have another of Tin Can Knits sweaters on needles and have my eyes on one of their new patterns. (A sweater that buttons in the back! How fun!) If you know how to do a basic knit and purl stitch, this pattern would teach you anything else you would need to complete this project. Like I said earlier, it is a really great beginner pattern, but it is such a great and well-written sweater that any knitter could enjoy knitting this.
All projects I knit are knit with love, but sometimes a project comes along that is extra special and seems to stitch in a little more of me than expected. Sometime last winter, I want to say February-ish, I started a sweater for my husband. I was so happy because he actually asked me to knit it- I wasn't inflicting my weird obsession with fiber on him, he really wanted a sweater and he really wanted me to make it. I am happy to report I finished it...before the new year, even. (Yes, yes, I appreciate it, but you can stop cheering for me now.) I am even happier to report that we survived the sweater curse. Apparently it's a thing- you knit a sweater for your partner and your relationship falls to pieces before it's done. But I will say, I think knitting something for someone so close to me is what made this project so special. My husband and I have had a difficult year; not in our relationship but more just life things coming up and slapping us in the face. And through it all I worked on the sweater. I look at the finished work and I see in the cables each of the trials we faced this year. Every section has some memories that are very specific to, let's say, just the left sleeve or the collar. With it all said and done, this 2017 sweater project makes me feel proud. Proud because all of those intertwined cables that represent our challenges have made us stronger and that despite some of the upsets we faced, we are together and we are strong. (Also, there is some personal pride because it was probably one of the more technically difficult knits I've tackled.) I love my husband and his sweater is filled with that love.
As for the pattern itself, it is lovely. I really like the cable work that Ms. Anikeeva includes in her designs. She does a beautiful job, too, of making lovely men's knitwear that is also masculine. While there are delicate components and a lot of pattern and interest, the overall appearance of this sweater is very "man." It is balanced, the cable work is not overdone. (I have seen some sweaters where the cable work is absolutely stunning, but there is so much of it crammed together that it makes me a little dizzy. This cardigan did not have that problem.)
I chose to use KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Tweed in "Flagstone Heather." It was a nice yarn to work with, but the main reason I chose it is because a sweater, especially a men's sweater, needs A LOT of yarn. I was trying not to make the first sweater I knit for my husband cost almost $300 in supplies, and the KnitPicks yarn was a nice option that was also economical. I am sure one day I will knit a $300 sweater, but this was not that day. I really loved the pattern in tweed, though. (I'm a sucker for sweaters in tweed.)
Summary: This cardigan has great cable work. It has a balanced appearance and the pattern is well written and clear. I even got to try some new techniques, like a tubular cast-on. The collar is also great, it is bulky and warm, worked in short rows to build height around the neck. I would recommend this project for someone who is comfortable with cables, patient, and has some experience with garment knitting. The difficulty rating on this pattern is "intermediate" and I think that's pretty accurate.
I LOVE (yes, all capital L-O-V-E) Melanie Berg's shawls. They are really beautiful. How she plays with textures and colors is really remarkable and the finished product is a sophisticated, modern wrap/shawl that is really easy to dress up or down. They are fresh and fun yet elegant and mature. Just as the colors often present surprising juxtapositions, so do her designs. LOVE them.
With that said...this shawl took me an absolute age to finish. I thought it was going to be one of those quick knits that take a casual month of knitting- I was wrong. I do not mean to scare away any tepid knitters out there, it is not a complicated pattern, nor would it take an exorbitant amount of time to complete if you were not working on twelve other things at the same time. It is actually what I would call a zen pattern- once you get the gist of what you are doing, you do not have to think about it too much; you can just enjoy the experience of knitting. However, it is knit in a fingering/sport weight yarn and it a full-sized shawl. Those two things made it take longer than I expected, but I just did not pay close enough attention and should have known better.
The construction of the shawl is really fun. With the stripes all being the same 18 rows but growing in length and the addition of the eyelet wedges, the shape is asymmetric and funky but the drape is very nice on the body. It has a natural curl to it that lends itself to wrapping around your neck and staying in place. The wedges are created with short rows, but they are the least fussy short rows I have ever seen. You simply knit to the indicated spot and then turn your work and knit the other way- no wrapping, no picking up stitches on your next pass. See, no fuss. Working a short row in this way would typically create a little hole or gap in your knitting, but since this is an eyelet wedge, the little hole created fits right in to the texture of the knit. Very convenient. Ms. Berg, you sly fox, you.
I made this particular shawl for my mother as a Christmas present, which is why I chose the green color palette with a splash of wintery white. I used the Brown Sheep Company Lambs' Pride Superwash Sport, which I reviewed some time ago, which can be seen here. I really like the finished feel of the shawl, it maintains the flow of the design but has a sort of durable feel to it that suggests it will last through many wears and keep my mom's neck nice and warm. (Bonus: It can be washed.) It might be a little scratchy for some people's taste, but it really softens after blocking. And when I say scratchy, I do not want to suggest it feels like someone's five o'clock shadow rubbing against your neck- it's just not as soft as, let's say, merino.
Summary: I really love this shawl. It was an easy and straightforward pattern with a great result. It is very appropriate for a knitter who has the basics under their belt and wants a new challenge. However, it is not boring for a seasoned knitter to tackle, either. I guess that's part of the wonder and miracle of Ms. Berg's designs. Do not make the mistake I made and think it is a quick knit, though!
This was a really fun project. I knit it for my mom for her birthday. The special part is that we were able to go to a yarn store together and she picked out the color she liked and saw a completed sample that she loved. It made me feel more confident that this was something she would like once I had finished knitting it. (I know people tend to appreciate receiving hand knit items and usually "love" them because you made it, but it is always nice to know when someone aesthetically likes what it is you've created.)
I had never heard of a ponchini prior to this pattern- and honestly I think they might be a wonderful original from StevenBe. However, if you, too, had never heard of this little beastie, I will try to describe what the garment is. Like a poncho, it can be worn draped over the shoulder with your arms still underneath (as shown on the dress form). However, it is not as large as a traditional poncho and it is shaped somewhere between a poncho and an infinity scarf. It is knit as though it is a scarf or wrap, but then the top end is seamed to the side of the bottom, creating a sort of triangular loop. Perhaps I have confused the matter more for you, and for that, I apologize. It is a unique garment that has a lot of flexibility in fit and is very flattering to a range of figures.
We chose a lovely purple color palette with the recommended yarn, going with the "Nightshade" gradient yarn from Cascade and the "Prune" mohair/silk from Ito Sensai. Both yarns are beautiful by themselves, but together the change is astounding. The drape and feel of the combination is really wonderful. The ponchini is so soft and touchable.
Now, I am a girl who loves to block. It's like magic to me- especially when I'm blocking lace or eyelets and you really get to see the "bloom." This project really came to life after the blocking, but it had to be steam blocked and pinned opposed to a traditional soak. Not a huge hassle really, but you do have to have an iron with a steam setting or a garment steamer handy. So when I say it felt like work, I just mean it was a little out of the normal way for me. But it was not difficult and the instructions in the pattern were very detailed for this important step. (The instructions for blocking were just about as long as the pattern instructions.)
I received my last YarnBox Luxe in September and it contained the beautiful thick and thin handspun yarn from Knit Collage. How perfect, right? I am currently obsessed with spinning and my last box of surprise luxury yarn is handspun! It made me smile in a way that only yarn can. Oh, squishy goodness, how I love you.
With this beautiful new yarn and some size US 15 needles, I got right to work making something. It was a great pleasure that I was designing what I was making, too. It is an ambition of mine to get serious about designing knitwear. I have all of these ideas bouncing around in my head and I know I can do it. (Whether anyone likes it is another issue, but I'm going to tackle one thing at a time here.) I started dabbling with design before my first son was born- but then loud, obnoxious screeching breaks were put on that I'm just starting to realize were a little (not completely, let's be fair) self-imposed. Granted, two toddlers do not leave a lot of time for anybody or anything else, but there are plenty of people with limited time that chase dreams. And part of this whole thing is because I love fiber and part of this is because I want to build a little something for myself that is not necessarily connected with me being a mother. I love being a stay-at-home mom, I feel lucky in many respects, but it is not a career. Eventually my children will grow up and start their own journeys away from the nest following their own interests. I want to start building something now that will sustain me and give me satisfaction and purpose beyond rearing children.
And I love fiber.
Lately, I've kicked my little butt in gear and I'm excited to start sharing with you some of what I've been doing. Like really excited. I have a lot that I'm working on to fulfill this ambition of mine and I'm loving it. I have to remind myself it is a slow simmer, and that's okay, as long as I'm still moving forward.
This was a nice confidence building project. It knit up quickly, it was funky, chunky and fun. I was able to write up the pattern, take some pictures (with the help of my littlest...perhaps I should invest in a tripod. I could put my tiny helper in charge of some other aspect of my project, one that is a little less dropable) and put together a completely finished product that I was proud of without feeling overwhelmed, drained, or defeated. All good things. I especially like the name of the cowl: "Through Thick and Thin." Yes, it's supposed to be punny, but it is also a good description of my relationship with fiber crafts. They get me through a lot. And now that this is done, I'm looking at my swatches and beginnings of other designs and a little voice in my head is saying; "You can do this," with a little more confidence. I've begun submitting ideas, too. I know there is a lot of rejection ahead of me. I can handle rejection, I just can't handle defeat. And for the past couple of years, I have been defeating myself just a bit. That's no example to set for my children.
So, tally-ho! Off I go. Chasing a dream, trying to build something and excited to see where it goes.
by Joni Coniglio
Available on Interweave for $6.50
(Worth the money to buy the issue of Interweave Knits Winter 2017 where it was first published. It's not much more than the pattern by itself and there are a lot of lovely men's sweaters in that issue.)
Shown here in Malabrigo Mecha
Teal Feather and Natural (I used 1.25 skeins of each color)
Skills required: knit, simple color changes, slip stitch, grafting
I am so glad to be posting a finished knit project again! I feel like it's been a really long time, and looking back, I am not wrong. I have so many projects on needles around the house, it's a little ridiculous. I feel like every time I finish something, I give myself permission to start two new things. The result is something of a mess. I knit and I knit and nothing gets done. That is until now. (insert maniacal laugh here.) I finished the first of my planned holiday gifts. This cowl is for my mother-in-law. She picked it out as something she liked when we were looking at sweater patterns for my husband. I thought it would be a nice surprise if I knit it for her. She is one of those people that even if the end product turned out like a monstrous yarny blob, she would still wear it proudly and boast to everyone it is handmade and someone made it for her. She is every handmade gift-giver's dream. Luckily, this cowl does not look like a monstrous blob...always a plus.
The cowl is knit flat and then grafted. The bulky weight yarn knits up very quickly and, in combination with the stitch pattern, makes for a very squishy and comfy cowl. I decided that I would block my cowl before I grafted it together, the thought being that it is much easier to block something flat instead of something round. It worked out great! I just left the cowl on my circular needles and used the chord of the circular needles as a handy place to pin the top of the cowl. (I did make sure to keep my needles out of the water soak and dried any residual water before I pinned.) I pinned and left the cowl to its own devices for two days.
The garter stitch graft was very straight forward. I wasn't paying attention and I actually knit two rows of color A at the end of the cowl, which I shouldn't have because the grafting makes the two rows of color A. The result was that one stripe on the cowl is a little wider than all the rest. I asked myself if it mattered and my answer was "no." You can't tell, especially when wearing the cowl. But, if you make this scarf, make sure you stop on color B even though you would typically stop on color A. It is clearly written in the pattern, I just wasn't paying attention.
I will say, once I unpinned the cowl, there was still slightly more draw-in where the patterned stitching is than with the garter stitching. While blocking fixed most of the size discrepancy between the two styles of stitch, it relaxed and there is a slight undulation to the sides of my cowl. Again, it is not something that is noticeable except if you lay it out flat and stare at it. It is completely invisible when the cowl is being worn.
I used a single-ply yarn with lots of air and fluff to it, so the cowl is very cozy and should be warm. It was a joy to knit with the Malabrigo Mecha. (So many fun colors to choose from, too.) I think my mother-in-law will be very pleased with how this cowl turned out, though I know she would never say otherwise. I guess it is more fair to say that I am pleased with how this cowl turned out...and that it is July and I've already finished something for the holiday rush!
Project Summary: This is a great pattern. Its simple yet unique stitch is really easy to do and does not require a lot of focus or counting past the number three. It's a great project to pack along with you on an outing because it is very easy to pick up right where you left off and know what you were doing. The bulky yarn and simple stitches make it a really quick project, too. There is grafting, which scares some knitters, but the pattern is clear and makes easy work of the graft.
I am feeling a little behind in my projects. I think that happens when I get overly ambitious and have too many projects going at once. They all are moving forward, they are just moving forward at a snail's pace. Does that happen to other people? I mean, with all of the beautiful yarn and all of those lovely patterns out there, the temptation is too great to cast-on just one more. And sadly, I have non-knitting projects piling up, too! It's really getting out of hand. Someone should really sit me down and have a talk with me.
My favorite of my in progress projects is the Belfast cardigan I am knitting for my husband. (I am ignoring the love sweater curse. Besides, this is a cardigan. I am convinced cardigans don't count toward the curse.) It is my first project with such extensive cable work, and it is very fun to see the cables really start to pop. The tubular cast on for the bottom edge has me a little freaked out- it is a tubular cast-on I've never seen before. Apparently I will be perfectly fine to just remove the provisional cast-on yarn and my stitches will be safe without have to pick anything up on another needle...I'm nervously skeptical. Many hours of work have gone into the little bit of the sweater I have completed- it's a recurring nightmare that it will unravel from the bottom up when I remove the waste thread! Give me chills right now just typing about it.
Then there is the modified "Auburn Top" sweater I am working on for myself. Truth be told, I have not knitted past the bottom ribbing there is so much other knitting going on. I am also working on my Quicksilver shawl that is a hold over from my fall knitting list. If I finish that list by the end of winter, I'll be feeling pretty good. I like to work on this shawl at night when my husband reads to me. The only trouble is we are currently in between books, so not a lot is happening with my shawl. What needs to happen is I need to just carve out some time for the shawl and knock it out. It is a lovely, simple pattern that does not require a lot of focus. A few TV watching nights with this baby would get it done in no time at all.
I've also got a few putsy little projects laying around. I'm knitting a tie for my husband, I'm still working on a mitered square blanket for my son, and there are the hats. It is not my intention to make any political statements on the site, my knitting blog is just for knitting. But these hats are knitted, squishy, bright and delightful. I made one for my aunt and myself. Even if you do not support the movement, perhaps you can appreciate the huge outpour of craftivism. It is truly amazing what we can do when out knitting needles unite. I actually really enjoyed knitting with the single ply Preciosa from KnitPicks, too. I have a more detailed review of that yarn if you are interested.
I think it might be necessary for me to put a moratorium on picking up new projects and finish these. I clearly have a problem. I'd love to hear what projects you're working on and if you have a similar problem as I do. Let's just make ourselves some tea and get to knitting.
So, here is Post #2 in my sweater design adventure, and let me tell you, people who design quality patterns are AMAZING. Hopefully one day I will be among them. For now, I am a humble novice continuing her journey of self-improvement.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning; the sun was shining brightly in my crafting space and I had a good chunk of time where I could just work. I had all my idea sketches in front of me, my yarn ready to go, needles choosen...and no idea what to do next. Like I mentioned before, I have made small project patterns, but I have never tackled anything so large as an adult sweater from conception to completed garment. And if I'm going to take the time to knit something, I do not want an ugly, boxy sweater that looks like a blind llama might have knit it. I want shaping, I want flattering necklines, I want interest...I want what is currently beyond my skill to design from scratch.
Okay, that realization was important. So I had to take a giant step back in my ambitions. I had a vision of what I wanted, what I needed was the framework to get me there. After copious hours of flipping through my books, magazines and browsing Ravelry (talk about pattern overload) I found it- the perfect base for what I am hoping to achieve. It was actually in one of my first knitting books I ever purchased- New England Knits: Timeless Knitwear with a Modern Twist. It is the Auburn Top by Cecily Gowik MacDonald, which I am including a picture of here that is from the Ravelry page for the pattern. (You can purchase the pattern for $5.50 on Ravelry or buy the book for about $25.00.)
This top has the key elements I envisioned for my steampunk inspired sweater. It has the cute, puffed sleeves, the fitted pricess shaping and a high neck. I even love the square neckline. This is it! This is my base!
This is a learning process for me, that's the whole point after all, so I am hoping to gain some more experience with shaping, including short rows for arm holes and the pricess darts, with this sweater. I am going to make some serious modifications to this pattern, including a lace panel down the center of the sweater, so I can incorporate some of the steampunk elements that originally inspired me. Some other minor adjustments might include some tinkering with the length. My modifications, however, will not warrant calling the work a new pattern.
With that said, I will make sure to detail all of my modifications here, but I will tactfully refrain from including too much information about the pattern by Ms. MacDonald- you will need to purchase her pattern if you want those details. It really is a beautiful sweater as is. I've cast on and am ready to go. I am making sure to take notes as I work, too, so I can apply knowledge to a future designs of my own making. The bottom line is, though, that I need to walk before I can run. Making significant modifications to a pattern seems like a good first step to understanding and designing my own sweater in the future. It's hard, but practice, practice, practice which translates to patience, patience, patience.
Every once in a while, even though I have more projects than I can manage well and too many of my knitting needles are occupied with half finished scarves, blankets, hats and mittens, I get the itch to design something. It's crazy, I know. So far I've designed little things, like mittens and baby sweaters. This time, I'm going big, I'm designing an adult-sized garment. Gasp. I know, taking the leap from mitten to sweater design is a little crazy, but I'm a girl who loves a challenge. Or rather, I'm a girl who loves to bite off more than she can chew, flail around a little bit, and then finally figure things out just when all hope seems to be lost. To each their own, right?
I am in the beginning phase of this design endeavor and thought it could be fun to chronicle the journey. Really, knitting is almost as much about the journey as the finished product, and this journey is sure to be interesting. First, I should explain my inspiration for the jacket/sweater I am hoping to create.
Perhaps it is a guilty pleasure, but it is one that I do not feel too guilty about, so I think I should probably just call it a pleasure. I love steampunk. This obscure, stylized subgenre is so great! I love historical romance, particularly Edwardian and Victorian era. I love science fiction and fantasy. The marriage of the two is really more than I could hope for. Steampunk is a little ambiguous in its definition, but one of its cornerstones is the use of steam powered machinery over modern technology. This usually lends itself well to a Victorian era style of clothing, as that time period was the height of this particular type of technology. However, because steampunk worlds are an alternate reality to our own, and not just a historical fiction subgenre, the clothing and artwork is often stylized as Victorian meets modern. It often includes elements that salute the steam power that defines steampunk. The results are interesting and very imaginative. This genre finds itself coming to life in many forms, from literature to video games. Now, I hope to capture it in a knitted jacket. We will see how successful I am.
In this post I am including some Victorian fashion plates that I used for inspiration. In the captions I highlight what it is about the fashion plate that drew my attention.
So far, I have sketched my design, chosen my yarn, and swatched my stitches. Now I must begin to bring my little seed of an idea to life. Gulp. Here we go.
by Donna Smith
Pattern available on Ravelry- $3.89
(The weird price is an approximation from the pound. This pattern used to be free, but as the designer explains on the pattern page, that promotion has now ended.)
Skills Needed: Ribbing, decreasing, stranded colorwork
Donegal Tweed from Studio Donegal in Teal
Lettlopi in Purple and White
(The black yarn is a mystery to me, I just used some in my stash that was chillin' without a label.)
What an awesome hat. It is so simple, but so adorable, it has captured the hearts of at least the nearly 7,000 people who have posted projects of it on Ravelry. It must be a wonderful feeling to Ms. Smith to know she has created something that has inspired so many people to pick up their needles and knit. This was the last hat on my Fall Project List, and I must say, this one is probably my favorite. I was going to keep this one for myself, but now I think I will include it in the knitted gift-haul I am making my sister. I have no idea what she is going to do with so many knitted hats and gloves, but hopefully they all feel like warm hugs from her baby sis.
A couple of things I figured out as I went along with this hat is that using a dark color for the ground (bottom of the hat) makes it very difficult to see the little sheep's legs. Also, the hat is a little on the big side, so I probably could have gotten away with using at least a needle size down. Those two points aside, I love the wintry scene this hat suggests and I was ecstatic I was able to use yarn my sister brought back for me from her travels in Europe. (It makes this an extra special project.) I thought using the wooly, extra grippy yarn gave way to wonderful definition in the sheep while adding that charming "halo" of fiber to them.
The hat is worked from the bottom up with a traditional k2tog decrease to the crown. It is knitted in the round, and comfortably fits on circular needles until well in to the decreases, when it is necessary to switch to the double points. This hat is knit in the fair isle tradition and the carries in the back really add warmth to the hat itself. Genius...except I live in Alabama and my sister lives in Georgia and we will likely never need a hat quite this warm. However, travel to colder climes is always a possibility, best to be prepared.
The hat is topped with a pompom, which I have a tutorial for here. It is great to be able to make a pompom that exactly matches the hat. And really, pompoms just make me happy. There are so few places in which to put them in a reasonable fashion. Having an excuse to make an obnoxiously large pompom was a lot of fun.
Summary: This a an adorable hat the knits up very quickly. If you happened to have come across and downloaded this pattern in the past, you likely got it for free, however it is well worth the money it now costs. This fun project is highly recommended by me, and if you don't want to take my word for it, go ahead and check out the nearly 7,000 completed projects on Ravelry. It's wonderful. It's one of those projects that helps bring the global knitting community together. Because really, who doesn't love sheep?