FO: Whisper Cardigan

Pattern: Whisper Cardigan by Hannah Fetig, from the Spring 2009 Interweave Knits. My project page is here.
Size: Large-ish
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Lace 2-ply laceweight, 70% wool / 30% silk, in Malachite; I used about 2.44 skeins, approximately 122 grams, which was 1074 yards/ 981 meters.
Needles: Size 7 (4.5 mm), Size 4 (3.5 mm) and Size 2 (2.75 mm)
Modifications: Lengthened sleeves and back.

Started: April 27, 2012
Finished: May 17, 2012

No surprise, I adore this sweater. Projects like this sweater are the reason I wanted to learn how to knit. I was able to turn some thin wool/silk string into a garment that is my favorite color, customized to my size, in a beautifully-designed style, the likes of which I could never find in a store. And I had fun doing it!

Recently on Twitter, Bette Midler asked, “Are they ever going to make dresses with sleeves in them again? Am I doomed to a life of sweaters and coverups?”

Unfortunately for Bette and I, no, they really aren’t. I snarkily replied to her Tweet (which also called on Tim Gunn) by pointing out that the last winner of Project Runway, Anya Ayoung-Chee didn’t even know how to make sleeves. But really, am I just shopping in the wrong stores, or is there a serious deficit in spring/summer dresses (or even fall and winter dresses) with sleeves that adequately cover the arms? At best, maybe you can find a fluttery cap sleeve, but that doesn’t really cut it.

I am nuts about sleeves both for modesty (I just don’t think underarms are appropriate in professional or non-beach settings) and because my arms always get cold in air conditioning and at night. I also really don’t like how fat and flabby my upper arms are right now, so for nicer occasions (or really any occasion) I don’t want to put all that on display.

I love this sweater because it gracefully covers my arms without completely obscuring my dress. It keeps me comfortable in air conditioning, but because it is so lightweight and breathable, I was equally comfortable in 78-degree sunshine. Fluttering around weightlessly, it added a draped, feminine touch to complement my dress without making me look buttoned-up and constricted, too prim, or too childish, as shrugs and cropped cardigans sometimes can. I think it will also work well over tank tops and sleeveless blouses for a more casual look. In short, as a garment, this one is perfect.

dscn4381

And at 120 grams, it weighs next to nothing, so it makes a great carry-along in case I ever do want to bare my arms, without adding bulk or weight to my bag.

dscn4384

Because this is my second time knitting this pattern, I already knew the changes I wanted to make. I lengthened the sleeves by 10 rows at the end of decreasing so they would come down past my elbows. I lengthened the back and “skirt” portion to 11″ below the ribbing, so that it would hit in a place I liked, especially when I sat down. I found the parts of the sweater that curved forward (formed by increases at the edges) perfectly covered my midsection while seated (it’s wrinkled in the back in the first photo after I spent the afternoon at the ballet, but it was sorted by the time I got home).

I already knew how much I love this yarn. In this color, the little twirly edges remind me of tendrils, which makes me love it even more.

The slightest issue I had while wearing it – which was probably caused more by the neckline of my dress – is that occasionally it would fall open more on my right shoulder than I wanted it to (I had my purse on my left shoulder). I tried it on over a tank top when I got home, and it was fine.

I’m incredibly pleased with this sweater and this project. I was delighted to see that working exclusively on one project – even in laceweight yarn – produced pleasantly speedy results. The turnaround time was faster than the 3 weeks indicated because I started one sleeve before finals, then finished the entire sweater the week after. As I noted in an earlier entry, if I can speed up my ribbing, it would have taken half the time.

So Bette Midler and I can quit despairing about dresses not designed with women like us in mind. We may not get sleeves on the dress, but I can totally whip up something fabulous that I love to wear. You can bet there will be even more laceweight, seamless sweaters in my future.

Previous Entries on this Project:

FO: Featherweight Cardigan

Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fetig, from Knitbot. My project page is here.
Size: M (40″)
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Lace 2-ply laceweight, 70% wool / 30% silk, in Aegean; I used about 2.38 skeins, approximately 119 grams, which was 1074 yards/ 957 meters.
Needles: Size 5 (3.75 mm) and Size 6 (4.0 mm)
Modifications: Used kf&b increases, worked 1×1 ribbing on the collar.

Started: June 9, 2009
Finished: April 25, 2012

Oh boy, what a saga this sweater has been. Though it was literally years in the making, it was worth it. I’m thrilled with it, and it’s everything I thought it would be.

(Please excuse the wrinkles – this is after it was rumpled up in my overnight bag.)

It’s perfectly lightweight, but substantial enough to keep me warm in the enthusiastic air conditioning of NYC (this time was at the NYC Ballet, where I usually freeze). It’s crisp and trim enough to look professional, with an airy drape and fluttery quality that make it really enjoyable to wear.

The only real modifications I made were in working kf&b increases, offset by one stitch from the raglan “seam” and working 1×1 ribbing for the collar and band edging so it wouldn’t roll. The ribbing was suggested in the pattern, and I like the way it relates to the 1×1 ribbing at the lower edge.

I’ve probably professed my unending love for seamless sweaters before, but I seriously can’t say enough good things about how tremendously satisfying it is to make a laceweight sweater that is basically flawless. This pattern is brilliant, simple, and fun. It has gotten me positively addicted to laceweight, seamless sweaters (expect more soon), and I’m thrilled with the results. I’m equally thrilled with the yarn and its genuinely lovely color.

I just plain love this sweater.

Previous Entries on this Project:

Flashback FO: Whisper Cardigan

I recently realized that over the years I’ve finished a number of projects that I either never photographed or never blogged, and in my desire to no longer be the worst and most delinquent knitting blogger that ever… didn’t blog, I’d like to remedy this circumstance.

So here is the first in a series of Flashback FOs, which happens to be one of my most-loved and most frequently worn hand-knit garments.

Pattern: Whisper Cardigan by Hannah Fetig, from the Spring 2009 Interweave Knits. My project page is here.
Size: between a M and L
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette 4-ply fingering weight, 100% wool, in Twig; I used about 3.5 balls, approximately 174 grams, which was 804 yards/ 735 meters
Needles: Size 7 (4.5 mm) and Size 4 (3.5 mm)
Modifications: Used fingering weight yarn instead of laceweight, customized width across back.

Started: April 10, 2009
Finished: August 15, 2009

If I had to guess, I’d say I was planning to take more flattering photos, but I hope you get the idea.

Smile, 2009 Vicki, you have a lovely new sweater.

From the moment I saw this design, I was taken with its clever seamless construction. Cast on at one sleeve and worked across the back to the other, it has a similar anatomy to many shrugs. But instead of simply leaving ribbed edges, this cardigan goes on to short-row panels that make surprisingly fun little flaps that tuck in right around the ribcage. It’s strange how much I enjoy that detail, but I find I want just a little more coverage than most cropped cardigans and shrugs offer in that area.

The flaps also give it a more breezy, casual attitude, while gliding over more of one’s back and sides. In person, of course, that faux seam at the back is straight and I don’t usually get the sweater all bunched up at my back like this.

I used a fingering weight yarn instead of the laceweight the pattern called for, both because it was in my stash and because I wanted something a little more substantial. This pattern is easy to customize to one’s desired length and width anyway, so I found it was effortless to follow as written using a substituted yarn weight. At the time I knit this sweater, I was working in a lab that was much too enthusiastically air conditioned, so having something wooly yet fluttery was just right over my summer dresses and blouses. I’ve continued to get a genuinely impressive amount of wear out of such a simple garment, perhaps specifically because it is so simple and easy to wear.

img_4924

The slightly flared sleeves and tendency for the short-row flaps to roll and curl gives this sweater a pleasantly casual, easygoing feel, while its trim ribbing and seamless construction keep it looking elegant and graceful.

If there is such a thing as a perfect pattern, I’m inclined to believe this is it.

Previous Entries on this Project:

Forgotten FO: Oh So Nikki Socks

I was cruising by my own blog, wondering how long it had been since I’d posted (much too long again, as expected), and I realized, with quite some embarrassment, that there was a pair of socks I finished nigh on a year ago but neglected to ever post here!

Please allow me to present my Oh So Nikki Socks, a wonderfully enjoyable, fast pattern, which I knit in a delightfully happy self-striping yarn.

Pattern: Oh So Nikki Socks by Judy Sumner, a free pattern available as a PDF on Ravelry. My project page is here.
Size: US women’s 9
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici 4-ply fingering weight, in Aurora, 75% Merino wool / 25% nylon; I used less than 2 balls, approximately 80 grams, which was roughly 350 yards/ 320 meters
Needles: Knit Picks size 1.5 (2.5 mm) DPNs, set of 5
Modifications: worked toe-up with a short-row heel

Started: February 20, 2010
Finished: March 21, 2010

These socks were a second entry into the Sock Knitters Anonymous February 2010 challenge, featuring under-appreciated patterns. To qualify, patterns were required to have less than 15 projects in Ravelry, and at the time I started these, I believe I was project #3. I was surprised more knitters hadn’t tried this pattern out, since it was so fast and enjoyable, with high-impact results.

I thought the short floats of slipped stitches which comprise the bar-like stitch pattern on every other row would add a bit of texture and visual interest to a self-striping sock yarn, without competing with the striping pattern.

I like the somewhat staccato rhythm the alternating sets of threes gives to the columns of stripes.

Of course I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t obsessively match the stripes. I know self-striping yarns aren’t for everyone, but to me, they are endlessly amusing. I find the colors of Felici uniquely special, and I think it is a lovely yarn all around. After the utter joy of knitting these socks, I made sure to treat myself to a few more balls.

I was tickled that I was able to start the toes and heels on the colors I did, and I knew I wanted to end on the teal, so that worked out perfectly.

As I’ve said several times now, the stitch pattern was crazy fast, in part because it was so delightfully addictive. I whipped through these in a very short amount of time, which always adds to my satisfaction with a project. It was important to me that these socks be absolutely stress-free, since I was working on them while taking breaks from my art history master’s thesis, and I had zero brainpower or energy to spare for knitting complications.

img_7340

To make them toe-up, I did a figure-8 cast-on and, of course, my favorite short-row heel. Obviously, the stitch pattern inverted effortlessly.

img_7339

As I related in my first post about these socks, the pattern was initially conceived for the designer’s granddaughter, and I wanted to keep that spirit of youth and playfulness to them. The yarn was just delightful to work with, and I think the end product was sufficiently charming and a burst of joy in my knitting life last spring.

If you are looking for a fun, fast, enjoyable project, I definitely recommend this pattern in a bright, colorful yarn. I hope your socks will make you as instantly cheerful as these make me.

Previous Entries on this Project:
Two new cast-ons

FO – Katelyn Basic Sweater

It would probably be fair to call this a Learning Sweater. It started as a sweater I knit while doing the reading for a Contemporary Literature course, but it became a course in classic sweater construction for me.

img_7372

Pattern: Katelyn Basic (Ravelry link), free pattern by the Berroco Design Team
Size: Medium (39″ bust)
Yarn: Caron One Pound 10-ply worsted weight, color Forest Green, 100% acrylic; I used less than 1 skein, which was less than 453 grams/15.98 oz or 826 yards/755 meters. I will try to get a more accurate measure of yarn used in the future.
Needles: US size 8 (5.0 mm) and 10 (6.0 mm) 14″ aluminum straight needles and size 7 (4.5 mm) 16″ circular needle
Modifications: Added approximately 1.5″ length to body

Started: October 12, 2009*
Finished: January 17, 2010**

* I originally started this sweater in February 2007, as one of my first knitting projects, but I started over again in a smaller size after letting it hibernate for a few years.

**You’ll also note that the season in which I took the photos is completely different from the sweater’s completion date (I shot them in April) and of course, I am not blogging this sweater until September. I look a little different now than I did in April, but more to the point, yes, I am a massive procrastinator.

img_4318

At the time that I started this sweater, I anticipated it being my first sweater, but because I put it aside for so long, that honor went to a much less successful project (which I haven’t ever worn and still hesitate to call finished). So, while not my “official” first sweater, this is the first one that is finished to a degree where I could wear it. I started it at a time when I was obsessed with this color, in my pre-knit-blogging days.

img_7373

A sweater is easy to knit in pieces and seems to move quickly, section by section. Once I restarted in a smaller size, this sweater seemed to fly off the needles, but I dallied about for a while as I tried to determine the best way to seam it. I opted for a rather aggressive wetting-and-ironing approach which didn’t go quite so far as killing the acrylic (here I mean the actual term killing, not destroying) but gave many of its benefits, especially flattening the edges and creating a thinner, drapier fabric to seam.

img_7374

I used an excellent tutorial from Studio Knits for sewing the horizontal shoulder seams, and I’m pretty surprised and pleased with how they came out. Setting in the sleeves was nowhere near the nightmare my first few set-in sleeves were, for which I am very relieved.

img_7412

It was easy to pick up stitches for the neck band, which I knit on a size 7 circular needle. Once the upper portion was together, all that remained was sewing the side and sleeves seams, though this as a fairly massive exercise in patience and care. I had to keep reminding myself that if I’d taken all that time to knit the pieces, it would behoove me to sew them together neatly.

img_7375

The yarn became noticeably softer and fluffier after washing and drying it. I know that acrylic gets a bad rep for garments, but I really love the ease of being able to toss it in with my regular wash and have it come out softer after tumbling on low heat. Caron One Pound is certainly not the most luxurious yarn in the world, but it is super affordable and made a lovely sweater. I noticed that the parts I ironed more aggressively are floatier and lighter, with a thinner fabric that drapes a little more. I may go over some of the thicker areas to get that same effect all over.

img_7376

I’m really pleased that I finally finished this sweater, since I learned so much while knitting it. I now feel prepared to take on other, more complicated sweater designs, and I’m no longer afraid to use my nicer yarns, haunted by visions of wonky disastrous seams. I am toying with the idea of taking up a sweater a month challenge, but seeing how many years it took me to knit this one, I may not be up to that pace just yet.

Still, is there anything more satisfying than being able to say you knit your own sweater?