FO: Foxtrot Featherweight Cardigan

Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fetig, from Knitbot. My project page is here.
Size: 38.75″-ish
Yarn: Knit Picks Shadow Lace 2-ply laceweight, 100% Merino wool, in Foxtrot Heather, 24511; I used almost exactly 2 skeins, approximately 100 grams, 880 yards/ 804.7 meters.
Needles: Size 6 (4.00 mm)
Modifications: Used kf&b increases, worked 1×1 ribbing on the collar.

Started: July 31, 2015
Finished: September 16, 2015

I love the first Featherweight Cardigan that I made so much I knew I wanted another. I believed that by knitting a slightly smaller size, at a more open gauge, I would get basically the right size, but use only 2 skeins of laceweight yarn. I was flying blind and gambling on the yardage, but I’m delighted to find that I was right, and I’m quite pleased with how this one came out.

This type of sweater is exactly the reason I wanted to learn to knit in the first place. I am always looking for lightweight garments that can be worn over printed sundresses (my closet overflows with these) to cover my arms in the spring and summer. It is a combination of modesty and practicality: when I attend the opera, ballet, symphony, etc., the air conditioning inside is typically frigid, but it’s usually too warm outside to be comfortable in a jacket. I find that store-bought cover-ups or cropped cardigans tend to have critical flaws, such as too heavy a yarn, too busy a pattern, too frumpy a style, or sleeves that are really only a conceptual suggestion and don’t properly work the way I’d like as sleeves. I’m often left mystified about what to wear to complement all these pretty, colorful dresses that isn’t just another plain white or black cotton cardigan.

The open, fluttery gauge of this sweater kept the Merino yarn from being too warm even outdoors in the sunshine, but it was warm enough that I didn’t feel chilled indoors. I will admit that because the temperature on the day I took these photos was closer to 50° than 75° and it was unpredictably windy, I did bring a jacket and scarf, but I didn’t feel the need to wear either until the sun had set and I was walking home at night. A little cardigan that can comfortably span 20-30° or more is a real winner in my book.

I modified the pattern slightly by changing the collar and front to 1×1 ribbing, which I also did on my last Featherweight. Once I was happy with the length and the sleeves were complete, I basically knit for as much yarn as I had, and the length I ended at is spot-on. It is just long enough to cover the back of my neck if I am chilled, but because it is so lightweight, I found I could neatly fold it over like a shawl collar in the back as well. I had a much easier time picking up stitches for the neckline and managing the construction in general on this one, and I’m thrilled it looks tidy and clean overall.

I was so enthused upon the completion of this project last fall that I actually immediately cast on another, in pink, which I set aside once I got busy with an exciting new employment adventure (if you’re interested, you can read more about that here), and of course, winter knitting.

I really do need to get better about photographing my finished projects. I have a list of more than 30 things I’ve completed, and in some cases have been wearing for literally years, but it’s rare that I can get someone willing to take a photo. And it’s rarer still that what they take actually shows the knitting well or is flattering enough that I’d like to share it in public. So I’m going to play around with a tripod and a timer or a remote shutter release, to see if I can be a little more timely if I photograph finished projects on my own.

False start

This is how much sweater I knit…

… before I realized I was making the wrong size.

I had calculated the gauge years ago using a much thicker yarn. While this size technically fits, it doesn’t fit well, so I’ve started over. I’m certain I brought it on with the hubris in my last post.

As a silver lining, I am glad that it gives me the chance to fix a few flubs I’d made in the very beginning. Fourth time’s the charm?

Ready for this sweater

In any craft or creative pursuit, there comes an encouraging moment of, “Hey, wow, I’m getting pretty good at this!”

The Cable-Down Raglan is precipitating that moment for me now. I’ve tried knitting this sweater two other times when I wasn’t really ready. The first time I was still a fairly green knitter and couldn’t even make sense of the pattern. The second time I started it as a gift, but I flubbed the cables and realized I still wasn’t ready yet.

Not this time. Now I am ready, and hey, I’m getting pretty good at this. I’ve finished enough sweaters to understand the construction, I’ve followed enough charts and cabled enough things that I know how to do it correctly, and I’ve even worked with enough yarns to know this one is a really good fit for this project.

I’m excited to see how this one comes out.

A Yarn Story

Way back in undergrad I decided I wanted to learn to knit. I made the decision fairly spontaneously in the middle of a craft store while I was buying painting supplies, tossing a skein of variegated worsted weight acrylic yarn into my basket. It was Red Heart’s Super Saver economy line, and its color is called Painted Desert. It evoked so many tranquil, outdoorsy thoughts in its mix of jewel tones with a warm tan and sienna color that I just had to learn how to knit it.

My mother lent me a pair of her needles and taught me how to cast on and make a knit stitch (I’m sure this is why I knit English – my mother is left-handed). I didn’t learn to purl, so the first thing I ever knit, over the course of several years in college, was a massively wide garter-stitch scarf-wrap type thing that I wore outside of the house exactly once.

It was a disaster of dropped and accidentally added stitches, wonky irregular gauge, and basically all the classics of a new knitter’s mistakes. In 2006 I decided to learn to knit again, branching out beyond garter stitch rectangles, and it stuck. I found a sweater pattern that I thought would show off the little bursts of color in this yarn, and I bought quite a few more skeins. I knit up the back in what became a somewhat Ravelry-famous example of spectacularly dizzying, ugly pooling.

Not surprisingly, I frogged it, and the yarn hung out for years. It actually looks pretty nice in a ball, so I was willing to relegate it to a random decorative accent on my bookshelf, but it bothered me.

I kept thinking there was a secret to this yarn that I hadn’t cracked. I didn’t like the way it looked in garter stitch, nor in stockinette. Because I have such a large quantity of it, I was considering working it into an openwork afghan. I don’t know what made me think of it again, but I browsed through all the projects using this yarn on Ravelry, and I saw a beautiful seed stitch scarf. I fell in love with the fabric and immediately cast on.

It is so pleasant to watch the colors shift and combine in seed stitch. Each color tends to stretch about 3-4 stitches, and although it has pooled a touch in some places, I like it overall. I’m so pleased to have found a way to make this yarn do what I knew it could.

I have a whole slew of projects planned with this yarn in seed stitch, starting with a moebius scarf, then matching hat and gloves. I also want to make a set of cushion covers for my couch and maybe some slippers or house socks. I expect pretty soon I’ll be surrounded in Painted Desert yarn.

FO: Montana Neckwarmer

Pattern: Montana Scarf by Craig Rosenfeld, free pattern from Loop Knits. My project page is here on Ravelry.
Size: converted to a buttoned neckwarmer (I need to measure)
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky 12-ply bulky, 80% acrylic / 20% wool, in color 127 Walnut; I used about 1.5 skeins, approximately 210 grams, which was 229.5 yards/ 210 meters
Needles: Size 10.5 (6.5 mm)
Buttons: 6 La Mode style 2906 3/4″ (19mm) brown, washable and dry cleanable
Modifications: Shortened to a cross-over neckwarmer with buttons

Started: October 7, 2015
Finished: November 3, 2015

I made this neckwarmer for my nice brother as one of his birthday gifts this year. To say he spends a lot of time outdoors would be a gigantic understatement. Between working on a charter boat and hunting, he is basically always outside, even when the temperatures are below freezing and he is getting covered in snow. I discovered this pattern last year and made a buttoned neckwarmer in green for my father last Christmas (which no, I still haven’t photographed yet, oops). My brother coveted it and asked if I’d make him a brown one for the start of duck season this year, and fortunately enough time passed that he forgot he’d requested it, so it was actually a surprise by his birthday.

I love this pattern, as it is simple and fun, producing an attractive reversible rib that lays nicely flat despite being worked in a bulky yarn. I went with an acrylic-wool blend so it would be machine washable and soft against the skin because even though my brother is an outdoorsy tough guy, I still want knit things to be squishy and pleasant to wear. I made simple yarn-over buttonholes, which I reinforced with a single ply of the yarn using what I now know is called a buttonhole stitch.

Because my birthday is November 1 and my brother’s is November 3, we always celebrate together with our family. This year I made us a German sweet chocolate cake from scratch and immodestly declared myself Star Baker, as it is probably the loveliest thing I’ve ever baked.

I’ll try to get photos of my brother wearing his neckwarmer (and my father’s, while I’m at it) the next time I see them.