Going to great lengths for a seamless cardigan

I have been wanting to knit the Salvia cardigan for years, and in 2015, I finally cast it on. I made the decision that I wanted to figure out how to work it seamlessly, or with as few seams as possible because I still have not mastered attractive seaming for my handknits (I promise, I am working on it and practicing).

I’ve been collecting techniques to avoid seaming over the years, including three-needle bind-offs, picking up stitches around edges, and so on, but this sweater has a unique challenge. The scalloped lace sections that give it its special style are charted from the bottom up, and because they are made with yarn-overs and decreases that play a visible role in the design, I wasn’t able to find an elegant way of replicating them in a top-down direction. I run into the opposite problem somewhat frequently in sock-knitting, where the lace only “reads” with the right gravity and flow in the direction it was designed. So I persisted anyway, quickly working the cardigan’s back, left, and right fronts all together in one piece to the underarms.

Diagram of a plan for knitting the Salvia Cardigan seamlessly

Next I worked the three pieces separately, back and forth on two needles, then finished with a three-needle bind-off at the shoulders. I’ve had my cardigan in a vest-like shape for several years now, while I hemmed and hawed about how best to proceed. The specific type of seaming I am worst at is setting in sleeves at the shoulder. Vertical mattress stitch is fine, but once I start working on a curve, it gets wonky and uneven, and no matter what I do, I’m not pleased with the finished product. So I’ve thought, on and off, for quite some time about how I could work the shoulders using short rows to shape the cap (I plan on something like this brilliant tutorial) and then pondered what to do about the bottom-up lace at the ends of the sleeves.

Recently I was grafting the toe of a sock using Kitchener stitch, thinking about what a neat finish it gives, and it finally occurred to me that I could probably graft in the round, so long as I had the live stitches from the sleeve and the lace portion matched up correctly. By placing the graft just above the lace cuff, I’m hoping it will be unobtrusive and neat and that the sleeve will appear as it is designed, without having to set in shoulders or compromise the design.

I cast on the first lace cuff the other day, and I can’t wait to find out if I’m right!

Previous Entries with this Project:
WIP: Art Deco Lace-Edged Cardigan

Spring Socks

One of the goals I’ve set for this year is knitting a pair of socks each month, usually as part of the Sock Knitters Anonymous challenges on Ravelry. I’ve also decided they would be part of the #FreeSocks2020 project, where the socks are knit with yarn I already have in my stash, from patterns available for free.

These are my Cuarzo Rosa socks, and between the pretty lace pattern and delicate pink heather color, they feel just perfect for spring. I cast these on for the April-May SKA challenge theme of “under-appreciated patterns,” where a design must have fewer than 15 projects on Ravelry to qualify. I am stunned that I was only the seventh person to cast on for this incredibly beautiful and enjoyable design.

Inspired by the lacy clusters of rose quartz crystals as they are found in nature, the pattern grows into rhythmic organic shapes that are nowhere near as difficult to knit as they may look. I always love that quality in lace.

I’m having a great time watching these socks develop and look forward to having a finished pair soon!

Social media, catching up, and knitting in quarantine

“It’s been a while since I updated my knitting blog,” I thought sheepishly, firing up a browser with a bit of trepidation… “It’s probably been like six months or more…”

Last post date August 21, 2018.

2018? 2018! Oh jeez, I’m sorry.

I did not mean to disappear when I set up my Knitting Instagram to share projects. It happened to fall at the same time as a whole bunch of personal turmoil (career stuff, illness, moving, starting a program to retrain for a new career etc. etc.) and until recently, I was spending the majority of my free time on a long train commute in and out of Manhattan, which is great for knitting but has not proven optimal for knit-blogging.

Knitting and knit-blogging are really two different animals, and I think there is great value in exploring projects and concepts more comprehensively. When I am searching for a tutorial or more information about a pattern, I pretty much never search Instagram or go through needle-in-a-haystack Ravelry searches; it’s more often 10-year-old blog posts that give the qualities of thought and reflection or specific, detailed information I want. On a personal level, I also feel there is tremendous joy in writing and reading about crafts and the places they hold in our lives. I don’t tend to go very in-depth on Instagram or interact as much as I mean to, so I would like all of that to change.

So what have I been up to?

Since my last post here I’ve:

  • knit 16 pairs of socks
  • designed, knit, and gifted (on time!) a cabled baby sweater for my cousin’s son
  • learned how to use my sewing machine (kind of) to sew a linen caftan that I dye-painted for a costumed art party (will miracles never cease?!)
  • packed up all my stash and in-process projects, save a handful, and put them into my storage locker while I’m living with family and going to school
  • knit three sweaters for myself
  • knit two yoga mat bags, one for each of my parents, which they absolutely love
  • knit my first colorwork mittens and socks
  • participated in the Fiberuary Challenge, posting on Instagram in response to prompts for every day of this past February
  • started knitting my first blanket (more on that below)
  • hand-sewed and embroidered three Mask Strap Ear Guards for my physical therapist father and two of his colleagues
  • started learning brioche

While I mull over the best way to catch up here (I will probably introduce a series of Flashback FO posts), I also want to talk about knitting in quarantine.

Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, I was already using knitting as a form of meditation, self-care, anxiety-release, and way to occupy my hands while I’m chatting, watching television, reading, or commuting. I always have at least one or two projects on the go (hence the large number of socks I’ve knit this year, as they are the most portable projects) and turn to them whenever I have a free moment. A lot of the knitters I follow on Instagram took on larger or more complicated projects for their “Quarantine Cast-Ons,” to make the most of their stay-at-home orders.

As I live with and know quite a number of high-risk individuals – and was just coming off two surgeries myself in late January – I took the infection risk from this pandemic very seriously. Like, I put a mask with an N-95 filter on my Christmas wish list and wore it every day in the city from when my classes resumed in early February onwards. As my brother and father are both essential healthcare workers, we have all been taking enormous precautions to stay safe and limit everyone’s risk of exposure, so I am happy to stay at home, adjust to my classes moving online, and knit through every worry.

One of my other Christmas gifts was the Hue Shift Afghan kit, a gorgeous blanket with a clever pattern that pairs each of ten colors in a rainbow spectrum with every other color in a plaid-like stripey grid gradient made with mitered squares.

I am absolutely enamored with the process and how neatly the squares fold in on themselves. It is also a whole lot of easy garter stitch, which is deeply soothing, meditative, and comforting when I am lacking the intellectual or emotional bandwidth to process anything else. I’ve found myself working on this blanket through countless Zoom lectures, conversations with my biomed tech brother reporting back from endless days setting up ventilators and all the equipment in northern New Jersey hospital systems, governor’s press briefings, fundraising specials, and all the distractions to take our minds off all the rest. (On that note, we just caught up on Killing Eve, and it is great fun).

Beyond all the practical and knitterly reasons why this is a great quarantine project, I am also touched by the idea of the rainbow as a promise of better things to come after hardship. As I knit my rainbow blanket, I keep imagining ways we can come together and make a better society, how we are unified in this moment and can use it to open our eyes to inequities, distorted and broken systems, and our inherently better natures. I am focusing this blanket in love, hope, and idealism, and I hope it will continue to carry that feeling for me whenever I use it after this time.

So, how have you been? What have you all been making?

Summer Knitting

Glancing over at my knitting basket, I can’t help noticing it’s taken on a distinctly summery feel.


I wouldn’t ordinarily have said I knit seasonally, as I am still making wool sweaters and heavy cabled things, but lately I have been craving softer, lighter colors, cotton and linen, and finer gauge yarns. I can also count on the summer for a major boost of start-itis, with three new cast-ons included (so far).


The first is a shrug that begins with a square lace panel constructed from the center out (I will sew that hole shut in finishing). It’s intriguing to watch the lace pattern build organically, and I’m looking forward to figuring out how to convert the pattern to be as fully seamless as possible.


Next is Lepidoptera, which I will admit I cast on in a total impulse because I couldn’t resist the beautiful soft pink yarn wound up in a cake after I used a bit of it to finish the candy pink Featherweight sweater I’ve been working on for years. I love the look of this pattern, and I know I will eventually enjoy working on it, but because the two lace panels are knit with two strands of yarn held together and there is an expanse of one-strand stockinette in between, one winds up juggling three balls of yarn at a time. I haven’t mastered the maneuvering yet, so this project is neither particularly easy or portable. I can’t help wondering why it wasn’t designed with two strands held together throughout, but I’m sure time will tell.



Lastly, a pair of Catnip Socks, a beautiful free pattern by Wendy Johnson that I have had queued since 2010, knit in this soft green hand-painted yarn that I love fanatically. I was chiding myself for casting on new socks when I have been trying to focus on sweater-knitting and have a huge pile of finished socks that I haven’t blocked or photographed yet, but I was able to justify them by the fact that I work from home and my apartment gets frightfully cold in the winter (and autumn…and often spring). Like most New Yorkers, I am nuts about not wearing shoes indoors, so I wear socks and slippers almost every day – they might as well be hand-knit, right?

These socks also gave me the opportunity to participate in my favorite sock-knitting group on Ravelry again, and I hadn’t realized just how much I missed the community and camaraderie there until I logged back in and poked around. When I saw the July-August challenge is lace, I entered some kind of fugue state where my hands were winding the yarn and pulling out needles automatically.

And on the theme of community, I have finally set up an Instagram account just for my knitting and crafts: @vickiliciousknits. I hope you’ll hop over and say hello – I’d love to connect with fellow knitters and craft-obsessives!

Educational Mistakes

At a job I once had, my boss would sometimes spend a huge amount of money and time on a vendor or a project that (usually foreseeably) didn’t work out, then shrug it off, “Well that was an expensive lesson.”

One might think I’d have learned sweater hubris by now, that I’d take the time to check gauge or try it on to check fit early on in the process…



And one would be wrong.

At first glance, this might appear to be a finished sweater (apart from the unfinished grafting under the arms) and technically, it fits. I waited until I had finished the neckline and cast off to try it on for the first time, expecting a roomy, almost boxy feel, and instead it is quite fitted, to the point of being body-hugging. At certain angles with careful layering and maybe if I were a little happier with my figure at present, it could work, but I wanted a cozy, smooshy, decadently textured and cabled sweater, not something clingy and short that can only be worn with Spandex underneath.




The little holes from careless neckline pick-ups block out, right??

My gauge, once I finally checked it, was way off, something like 5 stitches/inch instead of 3.8, which makes perfect sense, as this sweater is about 25% smaller than I expected it would be. I briefly tried to convince myself it would stretch a lot in blocking and end up at the expected dimensions, which it might, but since I have more than 5 balls of yarn leftover and this wasn’t exactly a quick project, there is no reason to compromise.




No, raglan decrease gaps don’t bother me at alllll…..

The closer I scrutinized it, the more flaws I started to find as well. I wasn’t happy with the gaps introduced by careless pick-ups for the neckline, but I was willing to sew them shut by weaving in some reinforcing threads. Ditto for the gaps made by raglan decreases along the shoulders, which probably wouldn’t have been so visible if the shoulders weren’t stretched as much. And weird decreases on the sleeves are just par for the course, right?




I mean, no one ever looks at sleeves, do they?? Sigh…

I know I would not be happy with this sweater as it is. I am a better knitter than this, and I care about these details too much to let them slide. The time I spent pretending I didn’t care or that, “It’ll all block out!” was “expensive” in knitting terms, but very valuable lessons. This sweater taught me how to make a seamless yoked sweater in pattern (way easier than I thought it would be). I also learned how important it is to track rows in moss stitch, after the first large frogging-and-restarting.

And now I’ve learned, for real, to actually check my gauge and not just follow the pattern blindly, hoping it’ll all work out. As this was knit with size 6 and 8 needles, I expect 8/10 will do the trick, so long as the pattern holds up. I also plan to make some adjustments with things I didn’t like, such as making a better plan for incorporating sleeve increases in moss stitch, inserting a filler stitch to absorb the raglan decreases on the sleeves, and learning how to pick up neckline stitches more neatly so I don’t end up with gaps.

This project has been like a security blanket for when I needed comfort or an escape from reality, and I mean it when I say it’s been a true pleasure to knit, so I don’t mind starting over to get something wearable with the right finishing details. Let’s hope I’ve actually learned my lessons this time.