I finished the sweater I told you about in my New Year’s post.
I’ve been wearing it most days since – it’s really well-designed for this time of year. The open lace pattern lets air through, but the 50% merino wool in the yarn I used makes it a warm snuggly thing anyway.
The pattern advertises that it can be worn either way up. The pictures I saw before I made mine suggested that it would look better with the ribbed border around the neck. But the way mine turned out on my figure, I definitely like it better with the ribbed border at the hips.
It was actually quite fast knitting when I was just knitting straight in the pattern. The reason it’s taken this many months is that I put it aside whenever there was anything else I needed to do, like sew things together or bind off the cuffs in Kitchener stitch (which was actually named after Horatio Herbert Kitchener, who didn’t invent it but he encouraged its use in the socks patriotic women were knitting for the WWI troups). It’s not at all difficult, and if you knit socks every month you probably eventually can remember how to do it, but I always have to look it up and concentrate on what I’m doing.
The pattern came from the Modern Daily Knitting site, which I enjoy drooling over even when I’m not actually going to do any of that kind of knitting.
The Last Knit
“When knitting becomes an obsession.”
Source: The Last Knit | Anima Vitae
Riveting 6 minutes.
The pattern for this one is St. Brigid from Aran
Knitting by Alice Starmore. The yarn is the Camilla
Valley Farms 8/8 (worsted weight) cranberry. (They got the
color better than my photography of the piece.) A chair cover
uses most of a one pound spool.
Speaking of color, does anyone know why when you take a picture
of a person wearing a sweater, the color of the sweater is usually
pretty close to the real color, but when you try to take a closeup
of a piece of knitting, it’s always a different color from the
The yarn has a pleasant feel. Like most cotton yarns, it
doesn’t have the same stretch as wool, which I think is an
advantage in this application. You have to get used to not
splitting it as you knit, but I did OK after the first pattern
repeat. I was worried about the cost of shipping from Canada, but it’s
quite reasonable if you order enough at once.
One of the reasons there haven’t been many posts lately is that
I spent August and most of September battling pneumonia. Battling
in this case means spending a lot of time watching television,
which is boring even when you’re as sick as I was, so I made some
progress on my latest knitting project.
When I moved into my current condominium, I was thinking harder
than usual about interior decorating, and one of the things I
noticed was that all the chairs people were using to reserve the
spaces they’d shoveled the snow out of were nicer looking than the
1960-vintage dinette chairs I was using in my new dining room. One
of my friends was making furniture, so I asked him if he wanted to
make me some chairs.
They came out really nice, and we upholstered the seats with
some red high-quality cotton duck upholstery fabric. After my cat died, I
decided it was time to replace the seats which he had considered
very high-class scratching pads, and I bought some upholstery
fabric, which turned out to not be as high quality as what my
friend bought, so it’s now well past time to be replacing them again.
Chair with new seat cover
I realized that the chair seat is roughly the size of the front
or back of a sweater, and most of the fun of knitting a sweater is
the first front or back you do, so I’m knitting 6 sweater fronts
to replace the seat pad covers. I’m also replacing the foam
rubber, which is making them both better looking and more
I did a prototype with stash yarn that didn’t turn out to be a
very good piece of intarsia knitting, so I won’t show it to you.
The first real cover is from the Water Lily jacket in Alice
Starmore’s Book of Fair Isle Knitting.
new seat cover
I’ve been reading Knitting
Ganseys, and one of the suggestions (with pattern) is
that you make a small sweater, for a doll or a teddy bear, that
uses some of the techniques that are a little hard to envision
when you don’t actually have yarn and needles in your hands.
So I made the pattern sweater for my sister’s teddy bear:
Teddy in his new sweater
Here’s a shot with a better view of the pattern (the back and
the front are the same:
Back, showing pattern detail
Doing a small sweater is a good idea — there were several
things about the pattern that I understood better doing them than
reading about them, and on the small sweater it didn’t take very
long, and wasn’t so difficult to rip out a few rows if you got
For instance, knitting the shoulder strap is a lot like turning
the heel on a sock, and it’s hart to see what’s going to happen
until you do it:
detail of arm top and shoulder strap
There are some conventions for making sweaters for humans about
things like what percent of the chest stitches you want at the
neck. They don’t all work for teddy bears, so I had to take out
the decreased neck gusset because I couldn’t get the sweater over
Teddy’s head. It was still a tight fit even with no decreasing —
if I were doing it again, I’d leave more stitches at the neck and
fewer at the shoulders.
my year of knitting dangerously
I was disappointed in this
book. I expected to be guided by an expert knitter through
the maze of possible information sources on patterns and yarns and
other knitting resources.
I got really mad when I read the denouement (Lana is what she’s
nicknamed the sweater for the year she spends knitting the
incredibly complex pattern):
Once Lana is bone dry, I strip off the machine-made cardigan I
have on and prepare for my first moments wearing her. It’s here
that I expect to feel rapture, when I can get away with ending
this story with a “Wearing Mary Tudor: priceless” line. Damn
the clichÃ©. Here’s the kicker: my sweater, which cost hundreds
of both dollars and hours, doesn’t fit.
The sleeves are a good six inches too short. I can’t close
the front over my ample bust. My linebacker shoulders stretch
the collar too wide.
I can understand about the bust. I have an ample bust myself,
and I frequently find blouses that fit well in every other
dimension, but pucker when buttoned over the chest. It’s
usually not a problem with knit garments, but stranded knitting
(where two colors are used at once, and the unused color is
carried across the stitches of the other color) isn’t as
stretchy as other kinds of knitting, so I can easily imagine a
sweater planned perfectly for all the other dimensions not
buttoning over the chest.
I don’t have linebacker shoulders, so things that fit
otherwise are usually ok in the shoulders, but I can imagine it
being hard to get a given shape sweater to fit particularly
But six inches of error in the sleeves is just wrong. The
sleeves in this pattern are knit down from the armholes, so if
they turn out to be six inches too short, you unravel the cuff
and knit some more pattern. Or if that’s too much work, you
make the cuffs 6 inches longer. It isn’t very much work
compared with all the other things she’s done for this book.
That being said, I did find out about Alice
Starmore, who is a very impressive designer. I’ve since
read both Aran
Knitting (from the library â€“ it’s out of print) and Alice
Starmore’s book of Fair Isle Knitting (from Amazon â€“
knitting patterns take longer than the library loans you a book
for). I’ve reorganized my knitting needles and yarn stash, and
am working on a fair isle design incorporating a serpent for a
So my advice is to skip the middleman and read the knitting
books instead of the piece of hack writing about knitters and
knitting books by someone who isn’t really much of a knitter.
But it’s a fast read and does have some information about online
knitting resources that you might not find as easily in google.