I like to think that I’m a pretty expert knitter. But my great-grandmother’s work was something I can’t even describe. I never met her but I have always admired her skills.
The family story goes that Grandma Lena would knit sweaters for the soldiers during the war. She’d take whatever was given to her in the kit from the Red Cross or wherever and throw it aside in favor of smaller needles and thinner yarn. She’d make them entirely on tiny needles claiming that this would keep them much warmer than that cheap stuff. Then she’d go about making beautiful sweaters that everyone agrees probably never ended up with any privates but went straight to some lucky officer.
My parents still have a few pieces that she made for various family members and they’re absolutely gorgeous. You have to take a look. I can’t imagine this was knit on anything bigger than a size 1 needle. My wrists ache just thinking about knitting a whole vest at such a fine gauge. I’m obsessed with the way the cables decrease at the shoulders for a gorgeous neckline shaping. Isn’t that fantastic?
Here’s a detail from another sweater vest. Do you see how tiny these stitches are? I can’t even believe this was made by a human being. I’m not sure about whether she worked from a pattern. I have a sneaking suspicion that she wasn’t, though.
The cable running up the center (which you can see on the bottom of this detail) is actually one of my favorite cables. (I’ve used it on these socks.) It’s nice to know we have similar tastes.
It’s so inspiring for me to know that I come from a family of talented knitters! I’m not sure I could ever attempt a piece as detailed as Lena’s work. I’m just not patient and, frankly, I’m a little sore. But it definitely makes me want to challenge myself!
I know it’s tough to tell from my crappy iPhone photos but any guesses to what size needles she was using? Who keeps challenging you when it comes to craft?
For Valentine’s Day, Jon and I took a little adventure upstate. My cousin got us tickets to a wine festival so we took a little weekend trip to get tipsy. It was cold up there but we made it thanks to fast food (my favorite road trip indulgence), an endless music selection, and the scenic route.
The trip was a lot of this:
But that means a lot of knitting. I generally am completely restless for long car rides (I hate flying because you can’t take a break!) and being behind the wheel makes me a little twitchy (until I decide to drive 85mph the whole way because I am in. a. hurry.) so I try to avoid road trips. But a long journey means unadulterated time with my two favorite things: needles and yarn.
I’m probably pretty sore for it now but I managed to pump out a good portion of this pair of socks.
After taking Kate Atherley’s class at VKL, I was very excited to make a pair of socks. I’ve been itching to make a pair since I learned so many awesome tips. While I know how to make a good sock, now I know how to make a great one! It’s an ankle-down sock with a square heel. I must admit that I didn’t quite nail this time around. You can see in the photo below that I went a bit too short on the foot so the heel is kind of pulling. I really wanted to make sure there was proper negative ease. Maybe this is too much.
I picked up this skein from Into the Whirled at Rhinebeck. It was nearly impossible to pick a color way but Jon really liked this one and I love how it stripes. I’m definitely looking forward to taking my new sock knitting expertise to more projects. Expect more socks soon!
Socks are my favorite road trip knits. What about you?
The Olympics are happening! Hooray!(?) I’m really not interested in sports at all especially ones that involve ice and/or snow so winter Olympics are kind of a drag for me. I also never have my shit together to participate in any Ravelry games so I’m just kind of no fun when it comes to these things. Sorry, everyone. But you have to watch the opening ceremonies, right? I mean, I hate sports, but I do love interpretive dance, Soviet imagery, and these guys. So it’s a win.
Everybody’s been complaining about the American Ralph Lauren ugly Christmas sweaters slash cardigan that my kindergarden teacher definitely wore in 1992 that are the uniforms. Haters to the left. It’s time the world sees America for the tacky-ass patchwork quilt that we really are. I loved them. I would not be surprised if I bumped into someone on Bedford Ave wearing one of these under their 500 layers and gigantic mustache. (It’s still cold here in New York. It’s like we’re actually AT the Olympics, right?)
That being said, the French probably had my favorite uniforms. I’ve heard people hating on that too but I want a grandpa cardigan parka! I’m coveting that Canadian Hudson Bay coat more than anything (feel free to donate $300 to my Olympic coat kickstarter). The Mexican team looked like a winter Mariachi band.
But you’re not here for my fashion advice. Let’s talk about knits, people.
First off, those sign-holding mini-skirted snowflake ladies (or many many Snegurochkas) were actually wearing really pretty (from what I could tell) cabled slouchy hats under their giant crowns. I always feel really awkward for the sign-holders but good for them! You were in the Olympics.
The team from Belarus sported these great hats and scarves that matched their flag. I had no idea that their flag had that cool faire isle-y bit to it (God, the opening ceremonies always remind me how ignorant I am to the rest of the world, so embarrassing!) but I really love it. They get the gold for best flag.
But holy crap. Slovakia’s matching hats, mitts, and scarves really knocked my socks off. I love the colors and hearts. So simple but just really cool. Good job, guys. Everybody go home, they won.
There were so many other countries with great knitwear. The women on the Iranian team had beautiful jewel-toned, sparkly hats. The Russians were wearing great turtlenecks I wish I could’ve seen more of. And I’m 99% sure that Tajikstan had three hand knit scarves. At least, they looked hand knit to me.
Which country had your favorite uniform? What are you knitting for the games? Yay sports!
You have to admit that it’s pretty ironic that in our modern times, DIY is making a huge comeback. Shouldn’t we be wearing flaming clothes and eating re-hydrated meals? Yet here we are, knee deep in blogs dedicated to canning and sock darning.
You’ve heard the old refrain: The internet changed everything. These skills that were once dying out can be passed around in a non-vertical way (by vertical I mean from generation to generation). Ravelry is a virtual knitting circle with millions of members and we can connect through blogs and Twitter and instagram. And now that we have all kinds of knitters (sock knitters, yarn bombers, toy makers), we can really get out a wide range of patterns. To me, this is the best time for knitting because we can get an endless choice in patterns, materials, and education.
Of course, I am a young person. There have been lots of waves of crafting before this one. Think of the war effort, trends like macrame, and even couture knits of the 80s. And here’s the thing, as we’ve moved further into the future, hand-made goods have become less respected. Maybe back then a hand knit sweater was given more appreciation than one today. Or do we appreciate it more since we aren’t living as tangibly as before?
Basically, what I’m trying to get at is a question and this question is: Do you think we’re in the heyday of crafting? Or was there something about it that was better (more elite? more dedication? more respect?) in a different time period? How does the digital world relate to handmade goods?
Faro was off my needles pretty quickly! I actually was able to put the bottom ribbing on right before I went to Vogue Knitting Live! So I a lot of people saw it unblocked (meaning super cropped and hanging weird, whatever! She needed to be worn!). I finally got a chance to block it and I could not be happier.
You’re going to be seeing me in this sweater A LOT. Absolutely, 100% Faro has jumped to the number one spot of favorite sweaters! I decided to take some photos wearing the big floppy hat that I have no occasion for. Remember my inspiration photo? I am no model but big hats!
First of all, I love the construction of this sweater. Knitting from side-to-side was really fun! There wasn’t a ton of shaping (really just the under-arm shaping) so it was really really simple (as in if you’re intimidated in any way by knitting sweaters, this is a great place to start!) but the lace/cables made this really fun to work up. The aran-weight Quince and Co Osprey made this really quick but totally satisfying. I could not imagine making this sweater with a different yarn. Also, there was no finishing necessary on the collar which is awesome. (I dread picking up collar stitches almost as much as I do seaming and weaving in ends.)
I’m completely obsessed with the stripes of cables and lace. Amy really knows how to make a handsome sweater. They play perfectly with the boatneck. And I must add that I’ve never really been a fan of boatnecks although I actually look pretty good in them. Note to self: more of that. The cropped length is really fun, too! I was afraid it was going to come out way too short (especially before I put on the ribbing) but it’s really just perfect all around. Trust the pattern!
I think I mentioned before that I went with a three-quarter sleeve instead of the half. I just added a few inches in the chart pattern before I worked the sleeve shaping. I love sweaters with cropped sleeves and I think I’m going to do this with all of the sweaters I make myself. I almost always wear them over a button down with the sleeves rolled up. This way I can roll the cuff of my button down without getting the cuff of the sweater involved in that mess.
I used to just knit sweaters that were patterns that I thought would be interesting and fun to make. This piece goes beyond that in adding functionally to my wardrobe. It’s not just a beautiful sweater, it’s a garment that I want to wear. This was the perfect place for me to step out of my comfort zone. Like I said, I don’t really wear boat necks often. I was really nervous about how that apricot color would look on me though I was drawn to it. I was scared that together it might be a little too much. But it all came together so perfectly. This is just amazing.
Long story short, I want to knit another one of these! I don’t think I’ve ever knit a pattern more than once (with the exception of the 12 pairs of knucks I’ve made) but this one I’d gladly make again!
What do you think? When are you casting on your own Faro?
So, first off, Vogue Knitting Live was a success! I had a great time catching up with a bunch of people and learning a ton and, oh, right, shopping. I haven’t had the energy to put together all of my thoughts and photos yet but I promise it’ll come soon! Wonderful seeing all of you there and to those I missed, I hope you had a fab time, too!
I guess 2014 is going to be a big year because I’ve seemed to start off with an adventurous spirit. A couple weeks ago I was hanging out around the neighborhood with Ashley and Kelly after a movie date and some beer. And they just kind of convinced me to spontaneously get my ears pierced. I’ve been talking about it for years now but I’m a scaredy cat. (I had them pierced once before and it was terrible and painful.) So I just went ahead and did it.
Now that that’s happened, I’ve been shopping for every earring under the sun because I can! So I put together a few that caught my eye that you might like, too. I do it all for you, not for selfish reasons at all!
I’ll be buying all of these now, thank you. Is it redundant to wear sweater earrings with your sweaters? (Yo, dawg, I heard you liked sweaters so we put sweaters on your sweaters!) I THINK NOT.
Can you tell I’m still loopy from a weekend of excitement at VKL? What’s your favorite knitted jewelry?
So I’ve completely lost track of things. I just have to get that out there because I keep kicking myself and I think you all have sympathetic ears. I gave myself some time off for the holidays and I just haven’t been able to get all of my plates spinning again. What a mess. I have just a pile of 2013 stuff still going on in my brain and none of it is complete. One thing at a time, though, right?
Anyway, let’s talk about stuff that is finished so I can feel a little bit accomplished, shall we? These are the only two knitted holiday gifts that I gave this year. I am pleased to announce that they were both completed on schedule. (Which doesn’t mean that they had time for proper pictures. What can you do?)
When I received three skeins of this purple Candy Skein sock yarn in a Yarnbox (Jon got me a subscription for my birthday, more on that sometime soon!), I immediately started working on a pair of socks. I figured they’d be socks that I would gift since I’m not so fond of purple and I had about 1200 yards of it. Regardless of the color, I loved working with the yarn and the dyeing looked fabulous.
Jon’s grandmother lost her husband just a few months ago and when Jon asked me to make her something extra special this year, I really wanted to do my best. Socks aren’t much when it comes to mending a broken heart but I do find that there is something to them as a gift as opposed to other pieces of knitwear. They say, I really want you to be warm and comfortable. They’re simple and often unseen so they are very personal. For her, I knit the Froot Loop socks. The cables had been calling out to me for a long time.
Of course, you can never just knit a holiday gift for one person. I knew I should knit socks for my own grandmother because she is an amazing woman who is a total badass. You hear about a lot of grandmas that are tough as nails, mine would put them to shame. I searched all over Ravelry for a pair of socks with celtic-looking cables. (This year I thought it would be best to stick to a pattern instead of improvising as I often do with socks.) She received a pair of Oden socks. I kinda wish I’d gone with green so you could really get the Irish feeling from them but purple was happening. Maybe next year, Grammy.
I think I’ve gifted socks more than any other knit. I just really love them. I’ve said it a billion times: They’re quick and portable and kind of mindless but still interesting because there’s lots to play with (color work, cables, lace, etc). And they’re just so special. I am lucky to have a wonderful grandmother who checks the seams on my sewing and recites old sayings and never takes no for an answer. Who always had jello pudding waiting for me in those fancy dishes and watched interior decorating shows with me when I was a kid. And now I am doubly blessed to have Jon’s grandmother in my life, who rattles off intricate recipes from memory for me to recreate (if I can find a pen before I forget whether she said teaspoon or tablespoon). Socks alone can’t let these two know how special they are to me.
What do you make for the women you look up to?
ps. Who’s going to be at Vogue Knitting Live this weekend? I’m working desperately to finish Faro in time on top of everything else. I think it’s possible. These events always stress me out (I’ll say it every time) but I’m really looking forward to this year’s show.
Today I have something really exciting to share with you! I can finally show you a bit of what I was working on in 2013! My first design for Knitscene magazine is out now in the Spring 2014 issue.
The Oud Tank is a sleeveless top with lace collar and underarm panels. I had so much fun challenging myself with this construction. And I think the simplicity of the front and back contrasted with a bit of lace is very much my style. I hope to see lots of different color combinations. Seeing it in black and white really gives you room to let your imaginations run wild!
Yesterday, I got my copy of the magazine in the mail and it was really exciting. I put a lot of love and thought and anxiety (do I do anything without anxiety being involved?) into this design and then I finished it and moved on to the next project. But here it is now! All of that effort and waiting has become a tangible thing!
There are a ton of other great patterns in this issue so you should pick up a copy. What do you think? Will you be knitting Oud?
It’s a new year so it’s time for a new Pantone color. Last year was all about Emerald but 2014 is for Radiant Orchid. Lots of gem tones going on recently! Great for bold sweaters or bright accessories.
I found some yummy purple yarns for you!
What orchid knits will you be making this year?
Happy New Year, everybody! I hope you all forgot your old acquaintances and drank tons of champagne.
While I’ve made lots of goals and plans for this year, I’m going to be a little selfish this month. I was totally floored by the amount of work I completed in 2013. Most of that work I haven’t been able to share with you guys yet but, trust me, I was busy! The last time I finished a knit that was purely for my own enjoyment and wear was back in the spring (remember the Poolside test knit?). I spent the second half of the year just designing my little heart out and I loved it. So making something just for me feels like a guilty pleasure but every once in a while, I need to indulge! (I also bought myself a pair of new boots. All of my shoes have holes in them so when I say “every once in a while” you know that I mean RARELY. It’s time!)
I have really been dying to get Faro on my needles for a few good months now but I was halfway through a big (secret) project when it came out. Then I had to work on design swatches. Then the holidays happened. Now Faro is happening. It’s jumped the queue, in front of all of the sweaters and socks I’ve been promising to knit for Jon (and, not to mention, in front of some real work I should be doing) but I don’t care. It’s happening.
Choosing a color is always a difficult task for me. I love wearing blues but when I knit, I try to stay away from navy and turquoise so I can change up my wardrobe. Anyway, I went looking through my Pinterest board to see what kind of sweaters were living in my hopes and dreams to get some inspiration. I found a few photos of apricot cabled sweaters so I figured that was the way to go.
I decided to go with Quince and Co’s Osprey in Apricot. It’s just the right color and a fabulous yarn to work with. It’s soft yet sturdy and chunky but light. And it’s working up so quickly.
Since casting on, I had a few issues. It’s really embarrassing that I was mis-reading the chart. Then I worked about four inches before I realized that the under arm increases were supposed to be worked into the chart pattern. Then after knitting up the arm I realized that, though I thought the half sleeve would work since I’m short, I really wanted a 3/4 sleeve. I did a lot of ripping but I never felt discouraged and I am SO happy that I didn’t just let some of the mistakes slide as I usually might. Note to self: Go back and do things right!
And even after all of my mistakes, I feel like this sweater is coming together insanely fast!
This pattern is really fun because it’s worked from sleeve to sleeve. So what you’re seeing above is a sleeve on the left, the back is up top and the front is where I’m working on the bottom. Then they’re going to be rejoined after the neck opening and the other sleeve will be worked. After seaming, ribbing will be added to the bottom to lengthen the garment. It’s so ingenious. I’ve never seen another pattern execute that construction as elegantly as Amy has here.
Now, as usual, I’m paranoid that it’s too small. Maybe I should just start knitting a size up so I stop freaking myself out. Also as usual, I’m assuring myself that blocking will help. Besides, I already ripped out the first sleeve about fifteen times so if I have to re-knit the sweater, I probably won’t even notice at this point. Just kidding. Blocking will fix it. I don’t mind if it’s a little cropped since I plan to mainly wear this over a button down. I plan outfits for my WIPs way in advance, don’t you?
What are you knitting for yourself these days? Do you knit mostly for you or for others? Have you knit a sweater sleeve to sleeve?