American Wool Series

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Start to Finish: Channel Cardigan

The Channel Cardigan begins with casting on stitches for the entire body of the sweater; for my size that is over two hundred stitches to cast on. Rather than trying to estimate the amount of yarn needed to long-tail cast on that many stitches I used both ends of my wound yarn to cast on. 

However, if you've wound your yarn into balls, or can't find both ends, you can generally estimate one inch of yarn per cast on stitch for worsted weight yarn. To test how much tail you need, you can cast on a stitch, mark the beginning and end of the yarn you just used, pull out the cast on stitch to see the length of yarn you used and multiply that length by the number of stitches you need to cast on. I like using the two-end method because I don't need to estimate anything and that's worth having an extra tail of yarn to weave in at the end. 

Since I took this project on vacation with me I was able to get quite a bit done. Unfortunately, I was having such a nice time that I didn't realize that I neglected to  change the needle size after the ribbing and had to rip out about 8 inches of knitting. After throwing a little tantrum I ripped out the necessary length and got the sweater back on the correct needle size. 

There is a lot of texture knit into this cardigan and it's slow going at first but once the stitch patterns are established it's quite easy to keep track of where you are in the pattern.  

I'm just past the waist decreases and, as I mentioned in my previous post, I'm skipping the belt so I omitted the eyelets used to make the belt loops. The next section of the pattern includes waist increases and front shaping decreases for that large shawl collar. As soon as I reach the part of the pattern where the fronts and back are divided for the raglan sleeves I'm going to stop knitting and figure out the math for converting this to a set-in sleeve cardigan.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Last Thursday I left on an almost week long vacation to the Oregon Coast for a family reunion. Mr. B's family lives in Seattle so I see them very often but it has been at least three years since my side of the family has gotten together. They all drove up from California and we drove down from Washington and had a rollicking good time on the Oregon Coast. 

We stopped on the Washington side of the Columbia River to stretch our legs at a spot called Dismal Nitch where the Lewis and Clark expedition was stuck for six days during a storm before sighting the Pacific Ocean. I thought it was rather lovely but I had the benefit of a car and a trunk full of snacks. 

We camped the first night and got rained out but pulled through the next morning for a visit to Tillamook before driving the rest of the way down to our beach house.

This is where I spent a good portion of my vacation while the kids built sandcastles and layered themselves in sand and ocean water, or flew kites, depending on the kid. I had a good book in my tote bag and some knitting needles close at hand and was generally in a state of happy relaxation. 

Each night the family gathered on the sand dunes to watch the sun go down over the Pacific before trundling inside for board games and general hilarity. I laughed so hard I cried, made fun of my siblings (and my mom), hung out with my nieces and nephew, and went to bed each night with my hair full of sand. It was glorious.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Start to Finish: Channel Cardigan

Last year I did a series called Start to Finish with my Pomme de Pin Cardigan that went through my decision making and knitting process and I've decided to repeat the process for my next sweater project.  I belong to a wonderful group on Ravelry, My Sister's Knitter, and the current KAL is Brooklyn Tweed patterns. Sounds like fun, right? After a whole lot of back and forth - should I join? should I not? - I decided to knit Channel Cardigan. 

The cardigan calls for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, a worsted weight yarn that is woolen spun and therefore very light and lofty. I've knit with Shelter in the past and liked it but I didn't want to break the bank since my size calls for 14 skeins, so I went to Ravelry and looked at what other knitters used for their cardigans. Cascade 220 is a top yarn in that list so I decided then and there that I would use Cascade 220; a yarn with a ton of color options, great stitch definition, and is a reasonable price. The downside to using Cascade 220 is that the finished sweater will be heavier since it isn't woolen spun, but I'm okay with that. There are already several modifications that I want to make: removing the belt, making sure the shawl collar is big enough to snuggle into, and possibly adding another button hole. I'm also contemplating changing the raglan seamed sleeves to set in sleeves since raglan cardigans always slide off my shoulders. I knit my swatch at knit night on Monday.

Guess what? Perfect stitch and row gauge on the recommended needles. It's a knitting miracle! I used a US #7 (4.5 mm) needle and knit my swatch in moss stitch as listed in the pattern and it's approximately 5 inches by 6 inches. A good general rule is to knit a swatch big enough that when you measure over four inches you don't run into selvedge stitches; your stitch count will be more accurate since those selvedge stitches sometimes behave a little wonky. This project is now ready to cast on!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

OAL 2015: Finished Outfit

I finished my Outfit-along outfit before the deadline! Hooray! I'm super happy with the results and I've gotten so much wear out of my dress that the pattern is going to be a sewing staple. I sewed New Look 6223 and knit Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay.

Let's talk about the dress first, shall we? 

I chose a dark blue eyelet cotton blend and lined it with a light blue daphne - the eyelet is a mid-weight cotton and the daphne is very lightweight so between the two I get a dress with nice weight and drape that feels very summery but won't blow up around my head at every breeze. I did my first ever full bust adjustment following this tutorial and love the result. 

This dress has pockets, soft pleats at the waist, and comes to just above my knee. I can see myself making a ton of dresses from this pattern in various fabrics - I might even try one in wool! 

 On to the knitting! Tambourine is a pattern by Julia Farwell-Clay from the Spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Magazine. I loved this sweater at first sight and knew that it would be perfect in orange. Earlier this year I frogged a sweater that never fit quite right and while the color was perfect, French Marigold by Miss Babs, the gauge was all wrong.

I took my gauge swatch and plugged the numbers into the schematic numbers to see if I could follow another size to get the fit I wanted with my yarn. I followed the size 43, which is my full bust measurement, with my smaller DK gauge to get a nice fit through the shoulders and added extra increases for my bust. The other thing I had to factor into the row gauge was the stitch pattern along the front of the sweater but this ended up working out with my gauge - six repeats of the pattern fit perfectly into the front of the sweater without having to adjust anything. 

I knit the entire sweater on US #5 (3.75mm) needles. Besides the gauge modification, my biggest change to the pattern was to knit the sleeves from the top down following Barbara Walker's method in Knitting from the Top. You may have noticed that my sweater doesn't have buttons and that's because: 1) I haven't found the perfect match and 2) I almost never button my cardigans. As soon as the weather cools down a bit I'll be sporting my new outfit pieces together, for now I'm settling on wearing my awesome new dress.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

WIP: Prussian Glitter Cardigan

A couple of weeks ago I was experiencing a bit of knitting ennui. I was between projects and wasn't quite sure what to start next. My Ravelry queue seemed a bit lackluster so I decided to take a different approach and start with the yarn and work the other way round. Guess what? It worked! I dug out four skeins of Malabrigo Arroyo - three in Prussian Blue and one in Glitter - and swatched my little heart out. 

I used a US #4 Hiya Hiya Interchangeable and loved my stitches! See? That little bit of knitting isn't even blocked and it's so beautiful! After washing and blocking my swatch I went back to my Ravelry queue and nothing quite fit the bill. I knew I wanted a cardigan with a contrast yoke and maybe a teeny bit of color work for interest. Could I find it? Nope. I sketched out a cardigan idea and pulled out all of my knitting reference books and decided to go rogue. 

And looky there! That's the right front of my cardigan all done and ready for the rest of the sweater. A few details about my Prussian Glitter Cardi: it's knit in pieces, has four rows of colorwork, is all in stockinette stitch, uses the same needle throughout, and has 1x1 twisted ribbing at the edges. 

I decided to knit the sweater in pieces because superwash yarns seem to behave themselves better when they're given some structure, especially in larger projects like sweaters. The sleeves are picked up around the armhole and knit down toward the cuff with a little bit of colorwork just before the ribbing starts. I'm incredibly happy with how my sweater design project is coming out and I have tentative plans to grade the sweater and release it as a published pattern. Woot! This whole working backwards from the yarn to the pattern is working out pretty well, I'll have to do it again!

Monday, July 20, 2015

FO: Commuter Vanilla Socks

I finished my vanilla socks! I knit these socks pretty much solely during my commutes to and from work and they took just under a month to knit. I'll be honest, I don't always knit on my way home because sometimes I'm just too tired (or the bus is incredibly full).

The yarn blocked just beautifully and I'm sure I'll be purchasing more Desert Vista Dyeworks in the future. 

Pattern: 64 Stitch Vanilla Socks with the OMG heel by Megan Williams
Yarn: Desert Vista Dyeworks in Zombody It's Cold Outside 
Needles: US #1 (2.25 mm) Hiya Hiya Fixed Circulars

I have a loose goal of knitting all of my self-striping sock yarns by the end of this year; this is a great start.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The State of Things

Have you ever been in an in-between place with your knitting? I finished Tambourine except for the buttons, which I have yet to purchase, and my commute socks are just this side of being done. I need to do some planning for my next project, which I usually love to do, but instead I'm just swatching random yarns and playing with them.

 Not that it's a bad thing, but there's no real progress toward casting on a project. I'm still debating sweater ideas but accessories are looking pretty good too. And then I can't decide if I want something easy-peasy or something challenging. Should I buy new yarn? Should I use stash? A combination, maybe? I just can't make a decision and that's very unlike me. One thing I do know is that I like this combination of yarn colors (and for the record the pinky red and browny green are new yarns).