Fair Isle Cardigan FO

Yarn: Worsted Weight - Ella Rae Classic/Shepherd Classic/Nature Spun/Sheldridge Farm Soft Touch W4/Briggs and Little Tuffy/Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool
Colours: 14 Assorted Colours (See list at end of Post)
Needles: 5.0, 5.5, 6.0 dpns and same size circulars 40, 60, 80 cm
Start: August 24 Finish: October 28, 2009
Modifications: Mixed Medium Sized Sleeves with Large Sized Body/Adjusted Gauge to Make Chest Measurement Equal to Hip Measurement Thereby Loosing A Line Shaping (See notes below)

And there you have it! Its done. After all the planning to adjust the size and shape it fits. After all the considering and swatching and knitting and ripping and redoing the colours worked out and I couldn't be more pleased!
From the beginning I recognized the A-line shape combined with the sizing of the pattern and the amount of negative ease for those sizes wasn't going to work for me. To be larger around the hips than at the bust I would have had to make the X Large size which would have had the sleeves down around my knees and the shoulders flapping around like wings. So I spent a lot of time both measuring myself and other sweaters I already own and simply staring at the photo of the knit on the model in the magazine. The designer's vision as represented in VK drew me to the pattern in the first place. The problem is, nothing about me, other than gender is similar to the VK model. I needed to interpret the Jonsdottir idea for my body.

I knit medium sized sleeves and a large size body and went for straight tube-like shaping with 1.5 inches negative ease through the bust and almost neutral ease everywhere else. I got this shaping by manipulating gauge rather than stitch count. (I did not want to mess with the colourwork charts!) I did this by using increasingly larger needles and increasingly looser knitting as I worked upwards in the round from hem to yoke. This gave me more stitches per inch around the bottom of the sweater and fewer per inch through the bust. So the knitted fabric at the top is wider with the same number of stitches than at the bottom. As the yoke progressed above the bust towards the neck I did the same thing in reverse using increasingly smaller needles and tighter knitting. Its quite frankly a miracle to me that this worked as well as it did. (Cue choirs of angels singing Hallelujah Chorus)

The sweater is warm but light and not at all bulky. As you can see above there is sufficient ease to move freely. (In the picture I'm wearing it over a fairly thick ribbed cashmere turtleneck.)

Pre zipper installation it weighed 17 ozs. or 482 grams which is about 5 average sized balls of worsted wool yarn.
Before I get into detail about colour I want to mention that for me, the real story with this knit is about ends and scissors. In terms of scissors - unlike with most knits, here they figure pretty prominently in the steeking. As a result, there are very, very few ends to sew in because they all get cut off in the steeking at the centre front where rounds start and finish and all the colour changes occur. Knitting this with two hands, in the round was pure simple fun knitting. I am so glad to have put some effort into developing my continental technique because being able to use it made the colour work easy and fast. It also helped immeasurably with the tension of my floats. As a tight knitter - that alone is invaluable.
Below is the striped swatch I used to both plan before knitting and as my guide once I'd finalized the colours and started onto the sweater. (I swatched using the first sleeve but after knitting it three times I switched to the striped version, using markers to define each patterned section.) With so many colours and charts and me making so many changes I needed something concrete for accurate reference on the fly. This worked very well
I didn't use the specified yarn (Reynold's/JCI Lite Lopi). Instead I shopped the wall of worsted at Romni and with a great deal of help, chose 13 colours I thought would work. In the end, after swatching both the pattern and the the stripes above I did a number of substitutions with yarn I had on hand and added a 14th yarn into the mix with the addition of the almost white colour that surrounds the blue circles in the yoke. The pattern calls for a creamy colour where I knit with the white and a teal blue where I used the more true mid blue colour (A girl has to have clothes that match her eyes after all!)

The colours immediately below were ones I bought for use in the sweater but ultimately left out...
Instead substituting the red shown below for the pink, the soft blue for bright teal blue, dark sage green for apple green and brown for light yellow. Grouped like this it seems screamingly obvious that the original colours I chose were really out of place.
(Hopefully) Lesson, on colour selection and all the other terrific insights I gained through undertaking this knit, learned!

Happy Halloween Everyone!

P.S. In case anyone is interested, here are the gory details on the colours...

Pattern Colour Colour Used in My Version
A Bottle Green Ella Rae Classic col. 125 lot L3138
B Garnet Briggs and Little Tuffy col. "Red"
C Orange Nature Spun "Orange You Glad" lot 021
D Marine Sheldridge Farm W4 Soft Touch "Bottle Green"
E Violet Nature Spun "Lavender Cliffs" col.106W lot 009
F Mustard Shepherd Classic col. 8006 lot 756958
G Dark Grape Nature Spun "Royal Purple" col. N42 lot 048
H Navy Ella Rae Classic col. 30 lot 3013
I Crimson Shepherd Classic col. 8220 lot 752915
J Camel "A" Shepherd Classic col. 8060 lot 752913
K Lapis Blue Sheldridge Farm WF Soft Touch "Misty Blue"
L Rust Galway Heather col. 717 lot 81136
M Hazel Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool "Nature's Brown" col. 126 lot 090401
N Camel "B" Shepherd Classic White (Added colourway for use around blue circle motif in yoke

As ever, thanks so much for dropping by!


'Come Along for the Ride!

So here we are, all ready to go a-steeking! The ends from changing colour at the centre front where each round starts have been pulled to the right side of the work and trimmed to about 1/2 inch.
You can just see my double pass of green hand basting there in the "ditch" created by the purl stitch at each end of every round. I added two knit stitches between these purls for wiggle room and I'm glad I did.
Let the cutting begin!
I'm cutting between my two added knit stitches. You can see one on the right - the other of course is on the left at the edge of the folded back section. There's another peek at my basting line too. Up...

And up...
And up...
To the top...
And its done!
Ta Da!
Now, with all the ends cut off I don't have to sew any in I can move right along to basting the zipper in place.
...and dreaming about what my next steeked project might be...
Thanks for joining me in my little adventure today!


A Friday of "Firsts"

Last Friday in the wind and rain I went down to Romni and shopped with Brenda!
  • It was the first time I've ever met anyone in person that I previously only "knew" on line.
  • It was the first time I've ever wandered around a yarn shop with another knitter.
  • It was the first time I've ever gone to Romni and left without buying anything.

It was great fun as Brenda in person is every bit as happy and positive as her profile picture and her writing on her blog makes her seem. And she is very knowledgeable about yarn - she credits her time working in a yarn shop - whereas I'm honestly just starting to be able to envision what a worsted weight looks like compared to a double knitting yarn and can sometimes summon typical gauges for same, Brenda has all that stuff on the tip of her tongue.

Brenda also knows full well what she likes/wants/will consider whereas I'm still highly suggestible and have to kind of work at focusing rather than doing the visual equivalent of word association - being drawn to lovely things, forgetting what I'm actually looking for and then once engaged with the lovely thing, being then drawn away to another and so on and so on and so on.

Fortunately I did manage to remember to compare the Eco Pur Alpaca colourway I won last week at the DKC with the others at Romni and decided I am going to switch it for "Silver".

Unfortunately I got so caught up in visiting with Brenda I forgot to take any pictures!
I do have this though - a very kind and thoughtful gift Brenda brought me from up near where she lives/knits/blogs. Very "sweet" of her!

As for my Monday morning today - I have another "first" planned - MY FIRST STEEK CUTTING! But first I have to wait for my camera batteries to charge - I wouldn't think of doing such a thing without bringing everyone along for the ride!


An Eye Candy Friday in Fall

This scene has struck me every time I've left the house this week so I thought I'd share...For whatever the shortcomings our summer weather had, the autumn of '09 has more than made up for - especially in the fall colours. Toronto - known for its extensive canopy of trees and many winding forested ravines is just breathtaking this week. Its a good thing too because I will travel the entire length of it 4 times today/tonight. It will be rainy but that's okay as grey skies lend a depth to the colour - different but just as awesome as the way bright sunshine tends to make them glow.

Here in the city, the colour change is about two weeks later than up north at the cottage. Its great the way it extends our enjoyment of this spectacular season in Ontario.

My first trip downtown today will be to Romni to meet up with another knit blogger! While I'm there I'll check out the Eco Pur Alpaca and make a decision as to whether I want to exchange my so soft windfall for another colourway. Once I do that I think I'll be able to start scheming what I might do with it. I very briefly looked on Ravelry yesterday but couldn't find any reference to the yarn at all. I generally have to struggle with Ravelry searches but I'm sure, with more time and little patience I'll get some ideas that way. As I mentioned the other day, I'm leaning towards finer yarn in my head at the moment so I don't really have an immediate reaction to what I might indulge in at 3.5 stitches to the inch.

This will be our first weekend all together in the city since early June. I have baking, steek cutting, gardening and shockingly, some knitting planned.

I hope you have a good weekend, thanks for dropping by!


1000 yards/1000 grams...

Of pure Alpaca!

That's what I won at the DKC last night in the monthly raffle!

Its Eco Pure Alpaca and its pure, undyed softness in a skein - well actually 10 skeins!

They read out the number, I gasped and held out my ticket, they called me up! And I never ever ever win anything! Truly, I buy tickets to just support the DKC! I was so surprised I had won that when they asked me to write my name on the back of the winning ticket I started to write my maiden name instead of the married name I've been sporting for the past couple of decades or so.

Then at the end of the meeting, when a woman came up and asked me if I was the one who had won the Alpaca yarn. My instant assumption was that there had been an error - they had checked the tickets and she was there to inform me that I must relinquish the prize. But instead she went on to explain she was the representative of Estelle Yarns who had donated the yarn. She gave me her card and told me she wanted to make sure I was happy with the colourway and so if I wanted, she would change the colour for another of my choosing. The prize pack is "Cocoa" but I'm thinking I might take her up on her kind offer and make a switch for "Silver".

I'm headed for Romni tomorrow morning and I understand they carry the yarn (honestly, what doesn't Romni carry?) so I'm going to check out the colours in person and make a decision.

Now you might think the meeting experience for me was downhill from there but it really wasn't...the Twist presentation Fiona Ellis managed with Kate Gilbert live via Skype from Montreal combined with the fashion show of Twist garments was terrific. There must have been 50 items in the show - including socks and mittens carried by the models as they simultaneously showed off many, many utterly fabulous sweaters.

It was interesting both to see the garments in person but also to see them on real live people. I crawl through each edition of Twist quite thoroughly so I was pretty familiar with everything they showed but I was shocked at how different they looked on people other than the models in the on line shots. I only wished the models had moved their bodies less, adopted a few more static poses and walked around the room a bit more slowly to allow us to get a better view of the knitting itself. But I'm splitting hairs here - it was a great show and I'm glad I got to see it!.

As usual the room was packed, needles throughout the audience were clicking and it was a great night all around. (And I'm not just saying that because I won 1000 yards/1000 grams of Pure Alpaca Yarn!)

Oh and I also found a zipper that will work on the Fair Isle cardigan - It'll be in the FO column by next week for sure! Thanks for dropping by!


Breast Cancer Scarf '09 FO

Pattern: My Own using Eyelet Cable Stitch from VK Cardigan by Josh Bennet
Colour: Chantilly
Needles: 7mm Straights
Start: September 20 Finish:October 12, 2009
Size: 9"x64"
A bit of deja vu this is!
'Same yarn as last year's October Breast Cancer Scarf. Same quantity (2 balls - one donated to DKC for this program, one almost complete ball I had on hand) I really love this yarn - the perfect soft pink - fluffy but not in an overly girly way and somehow with a bit of sheen too. The slightly matted look of the yarn gives it an edge that counteracts its soft, fuzzy pinkness.

Its the same cabled eyelet pattern as the cardigan I've just cast on from last winter's Vogue Knitting. (I feel like I've just produced the world's longest swatch!) Bottom line though I think the yarn and stitch pattern are a lovely match!

I like the way the cable gives a bit of shape to the ends.

I found knitting this that I have the same feeling about making it for someone facing difficult times and yet feeling good about doing something to contribute but new this year is the contest I'm going to enter with a photo of this FO over at Cheryl's blog!

Thanks for dropping by today and if you're in Toronto tonight - don't forget the DKC meeting at Innes Hall on St. George Street. Its the Twist Trunk Show presented by DKC Member and Twist Contributor Fiona Ellis with Kate Gilbert in attendance via Skype!


Status Report

The leaves aren't the only ones busily changing around here - there's so much going on about which I should report!

Creative Needlework Festival

I went, I wandered, I bought nothing. The Shetland "display" consisted of a couple of dozen balls each of lace weight and fingering in dark brown, light brown, creamy brown and grey brown. The "booth" of the company from the UK that was the express reason I went to the show was an 8' long table manned by two women from the DKC. (I had been envisioning British knitters, fresh over here from the windswept Shetlands with wonderful thick accents,rosy cheeks and bushels of every colour of Shetland wool imaginable who would preach the "gospel" of Shetland as if channelling EZ herself. Where do I get these ideas?) Anyway such was not the case but all was not lost.

Fortunately Purple Purl was there (To my eye this shop is really leading the pack among the LYS's in T.O. although Passionknit is working hard to make that shop a going concern again. - they're carrying Koigu now! Just a couple of years ago I had to trek all the way down to Lettuce Knit just to see that stuff!) Anyway, at the Purple Purl booth there were some intriguing new (to me) yarns I spent quite a while considering...

Classic Elite Fresco in "Pink Sand" (This looked much more soft pink in person than the lilac colour it appears to be on the shade card in the link.)

Earth Collection Hillside Linen - this is beautiful stuff - I think it would make a great pullover for My Beloved who really doesn't need/wear heavy wool sweaters.

Cabin Fever Northern Lights Chunky in "Kiwi", "Pumpkin" and "Sweet Corn".

Rowan Silky Tweed in "Spinach" and "Bolero"

With the exception of the Cabin Fever yarn (the price, with those colours is too fabulous to ignore!) All these yarns are lighter weight as I'm feeling the impulse to work a few less bulky knits. After considering what I do have stashed at the moment I'm months away from that kind of knitting in the queue but I like to take my time and indulge in the planning phase.

Passionknit, Romni, Americo and a couple of yarn shops from outside the GTA were also there. There was a dedicated Yarn Cafe and a classroom set up with knitting specific presentations running all the time. There were also a bunch of classes on offer. Overall, the knitting portion of the show has definitely grown within what is still largely a Quilting/Sewing show and boy oh boy was it ever busy!

Breast Cancer Scarf

I'm having trouble getting some FO shots to post but its done and ready to go back from whence the yarn originally came - to the DKC Breast Cancer Scarf table at this week's meeting. I'll have to wrangle some photos today for a post tomorrow before its off to its new home.

New on the Needles

With the Fair Isle drying last night I cast on for the Eyelet Cabled Cardigan. Its made up of the pattern I used for the Breast Cancer Scarf so I've got lots of recent practice with the stitch pattern and it should be a very enjoyable knit with the Lion Brand Fisherman's wool I fell in love with back in August.

Fair Isle Cardigan
Its dry and blocked and fabulous and as soon as I'm though with the necessities around here this morning I'm going to race over to the fabric store in search of a zipper. I know from experience this can be tricky. I do so hope I don't have to trek all the way downtown in search of something that will work!

I still have to sew the safety stitching on either side of the steek. I decided that doing it before blocking was silly because it would hinder my ability to manipulate the wet wool fabric so I still have to do that before I'll be ready cut (gasp!!?!) the steek and install the zipper.

I need a mindless travel-appropriate project so I want to cast on for an Elizabeth Zimmerman seamless somethingorother. Last week I picked up Sheila McGregor's "Complete Book of Fair Isle Knitting" and I've been playing around with ideas in my mind ever since. As last night's dinner "held" waiting for My Beloved to get home I finally sat down with paper and pencil, all the requisite resources (books, measurements, yarn) and started to plan something concrete. Lots of fun (the lovely "buttery rich" Chardonnay I was sipping at the time probably helped too!)

Ignored But Not Forgotten

We will not speak of Tangled Yoke at this time except to say that while it is in my thoughts it is also relagated to a basket in my Laundry Room - moved there from the primo spot the most favoured knits enjoy beside my bed.

The Cabled Lace Socks are still bedside but right beneath the swatching I indulged in Saturday morning en route to the cottage for a big simple bulky cowl.

Well I think that covers it. I'm off now on my hateful power walk. I loath the necessary evil of exercise but I do love it when you drop by and especially when you share your thoughts in the comments!

Have a great day!


Friday Fun

I'm off to the Creative Festival in search of Shetland wool. A vendor from the UK will be there with some so I plan to see if anything inspires me to purchase a sweater's worth.

I want to try out an EZ sweater "formula" and try buying yarn by weight rather than by a prescribed number of balls or skeins.

I could do this at many of the great Yarn Shops in the city but once I get around a quantity of yarn my mind often goes to mush. Better to be in a situation of forced focus. (I've been to this show before - it features a wide variety of crafts so the yarn offerings will likely be fairly limited.) I'll probably spend an inordinate amount of time staring at one or two skeins while the other less encumbered knitters, happily chatting and oooing and ahhhhing will just be inspired to pick up what they love, buy it and move on.

After the Creative Festival, its off to the Ski Show with My Beloved and Number One Son after which we'll meet up with Darling Daughter for dinner. Hopefully I'll make it home in time to finally finish the Fair Isle yoke and collar. Orange is now the colour where golden yellow used to be. Soft Green tops the band of circles. I am satisfied with the effect. Please oh please yarn gods - let this be the last time I head for the collar of this thing!

We plan to go back up north in the morning. We may close up for good and head right back or stay over and do the final close on Sunday. I'd like to take along the Fair Isle and work on hand stitching the steek and grafting the sleeves to the body so I could block it on Sunday or Monday.

I hope you have some Friday Fun today and a great weekend ahead!

Thanks for dropping by!


Berroco Sox FO

Pattern: Basic Top Down Stockinette Socks (64 stitches, slip stitch gusset heel)
Start: August 30 Finish: October 12, 2009
Yarn: Berroco Sox
Colour: 1433 Lot: 2719
Needles 2.75mm bamboo dpns

Not much to say - pretty basic stuff.

As I've mentioned previously, the yarn doesn't feel as "wooley" as I'd like. I have become used to it though and I can now see myself wearing the socks whereas during the knitting of sock #1 I wasn't sure that would be the case.
The "freckles" of dark brown scattered in the lighter grey stripes strike me as kind of messy looking. I had no idea when I bought the yarn the striping would be so pronounced.
All that whining aside, they do look okay side by side which I didn't think they would since the stripes are obviously different from one sock to the other.

These were strictly car/subway knitted socks knit while I was working on the Fair Isle Cardigan at home. The first sock came out at a looser gauge than the second as I started it during the time I was working really hard to maintain very loose tension in my two handed colour work stranding. I must have carried over that looseness without even being aware of it at the time. Of course, nothing "relaxed" lasts forever with me so I'm not surprised the effect had worn off by the time I got to sock #2. I am surprised though at how much yarn I have left over. I should have made these much longer in the leg to use up the yarn.

Oh well, into the sock drawer and regular rotation they go!
As for Mr. Reluctant Fair Isle...

Last night I once again made it to the collar but decided the golden bottoms of the diamond shapes above the circles should be orange. The photo above was taken prior to ripping back to the circles one more time. (BTW I've now got the shot above beside the previous colour combination in my Ravelry notebook if you're interested - on Ravelry I'm Canadianeh.)

P.S. Hey Curlerchick! (re your recent comment about wrapping the screened porch at the cottage)

These two photos illustrate how the top (grommets over hooks) and bottom edges (rope through grommets and then around hooks - adds play to the tarp for easier installation and removal) of the porch wrap attach to the cottage. We used to have one long piece but now have three that overlap at the corners so we can partially wrap or have unwrapped, part of the porch if the weather is particularly nice...

They also roll up very tightly for storage over the summer. They were made by a place that makes custom tarps for trucks. Very reasonable and they do a great job! (Our first lasted about 15 years.)



Okay - back to where I was when near Armageddon occurred with my PC late last Thursday...

Happy Thanksgiving! (Here in Canada we celebrate a bit earlier because a) our harvest is earlier on account of the shorter growing season and b) we need a long weekend to close the cottage early in October! ;)

Saturday was a gorgeous day, the colours up north seemed to be peaking and the sunshine wasn't too shabby either!

Sunday, however was another story...

Although the snow showers alternated with icy rainfall occasionally there would be the odd glimpse of sun...

During one sunny break I ventured out for some fresh air but was no sooner outside than I glanced in the window and saw this calling me back to the chesterfield...

I got the thing as far as the collar but decided I really didn't care for the lavender section right up against the hazel atop the blue and white circles...
So I ripped it back, subbed in bottle green. That was too dark and contrasty. I tried a slightly lighter, softer green. I'm happy with how that looks so I continued on and now I'm again within striking distance of the collar. (Third time's a charm?) I think I've knit the whole sweater at least twice with all the ripping back and redoing that's gone on in the name of colour combinations!)

At this time of year the sun streams in the cottage kitchen window. This golden beam lit up my pile of turkey "stuffing".

Yes I make real stuffing but I make it outside the bird, instead filling the cavity with goodies that infuse the meat with flavour rather than having the bird infuse the stuffing - Red and white onions, whole garlic cloves, lemon wedges and fresh herbs - this year Sage)
And of course there's pumpkin pie! Home roasted pie pumpkin flesh makes the fragrant spicy custard unspeakably good!
In fact the leftovers were consumed before leaving on Monday (we have to save on dishes from here on in as the water system has now been drained to prevent pipes bursting in sub zero temperatures (And not a moment too soon either - we have since had a very hard frost at the cottage - minus 6 degrees Celsius!)

At home Monday night, the holiday weekend drive behind us, with the car unpacked we enjoyed a pasta dinner over which there were lots of laughs and much greatly entertaining conversation. Afterwards, Darling Daughter cleaned the kitchen without being asked and when Number One Son was prompted he happily agreed to go practice his music. As the soapy dish washing noises mixed with major and minor trumpet scales, My Beloved and I sat in the living room. He read the paper, I think we can all pretty much guess what I might have been doing.

This wasn't the big holiday meal of the night before but the notion of giving thanks seemed so much more evident. I felt very appreciative to be at this age and stage with the kids. We've worked so hard for so many years to raise fun, smart, competent and careful people. That evening seemed to be a momentary demonstration that we're on the right track. A happy family night together at home. I just smiled to myself as my needles clicked away while I silently gave thanks for our wonderful good fortune.

I hope you had a good (Thanksgiving) weekend!