I Knit A Sweater!

It's an exciting day for me as a knitter.  I knit a sweater in just over two months and it fits.  It even looks good.  I wore it out to dinner tonight!  Like so many of us, I struggle with never-enough-time-to-knit and not always being able to translate a pattern into something that fits well and looks good.  I feel like I've made a lot of progress in the last couple of years and I'm really happy with this one.

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This is Mithril.  It's knit in my own yarn, Elliebelly Chemise, a silk linen blend in a sport weight. I used five skeins, down to the last little bit.  But, if I had followed the length suggested in the pattern, I could have done it in four.  I opted for a longer, tunic style.  This little twist is all of the yarn I had leftover.  So happy to have a win at yarn chicken!

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The pattern is well-written and very straightforward.  Mithril is a sweater a beginner could knit, but the sweet cable detailing was enough to give me something to look forward to and keep knitting despite the miles of stockinette.

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This is the perfect "wear it with everything sweater."  I had it on tonight with a long, white silk skirt but it looks equally good with jeans and leggings.  I like it enough that I would consider knitting a winter wool version, possibly with a higher neckline.

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This sweater is so comfortable that I really don't want to take it off — in fact, as you can see, I've already gotten one good nap in while wearing it.  It feels great to have knit something I know I will wear over and over.  The original idea for this sweater came about because I had a similar white linen sweater, minus the cables, that I had worn since college and it finally wore out.  I'm guessing this one will last as long as the original.  Linen wears like iron and even with a gentle steam blocking, the fiber has already softened and opened up. 

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The original yarn was very pretty, but I'm even happier with the finished sweater.  It's good to be a knitter.

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The World Of Knitters: Endless Possibilities

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Look at that!  My husband may just see a "why is that bag of yarn taking up so much space?" but I see endless possibilities.  That yarn is my true love in the knitting world, Aran weight Blue Faced Leicester, fresh in from Scotland and the most wonderful of yarns.  Because it comes in limited quantities I have to be careful about what I devote it to, and will be planning this batch down to the last skein.

The wonderful thing about being a knitter is that your world is always full of endless possibilities.  And if one project goes poorly, you can always cast on another!

Because I'm down to the last couple of inches of the body on my Mithril sweater, I'm in cast on mode.  I've decided to work on three projects, two shawls, Grannie Annie and Oak Park, both in the Plucky Knitter's Cachet Cashmere, and a color work hat, Vitsippa, as a warm up for the color work sweater I'm planning as my project for the fall.  And probably for the winter and spring too, because it's incredibly complex and clearly beyond my skills as a knitter!

I've got yarn selected for Oak Park and Vitsippa and am ready to wind and swatch this week.  Grannie Annie is going to require some serious color obsessing, which I will undoubtedly share with you.  I think it's one of those projects that depends heavily on color placement for success and since I'm working out of stash, it's going to take some deliberation.  I'm also pulling my Drachenfels out of work-in-progress time out.  I'm not really sure why it ended up there, but I'm looking forward to finishing up and wearing it when the whether turns chilly.  Which a girl can dream about happening, right?

Hope your summer knitting is going well.  If not, create some new possibilities for yourself and enjoy it!

Attached I-Cord Bind Off

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I am here to tell you that the precise amount of time it takes to pick up stitches along the rather expansive neckline of a Mithril sweater and then do an attached I-Cord edging is the same as the amount of time it takes to watch Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.  It was a complete match and a happy coincidence, because I did it all in one go.  Unfortunately, because I ended this adventure at 2 am, I'm a little bit brain dead.  I'll do a post later these week and leave behind breadcrumbs for anyone who wants some thoughts about using this technique.  I'm very pleased with it and found it to be surprisingly easy to do, including the join at the end.

I'll leave you with a photo of my happy hunters, Wingus and Dingus, enjoying a surprisingly pleasant (i.e. not blastingly humid) Saturday and some incredibly vibrant colors going on in my garden this morning.

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A Quick Summer Knit: Vested Interest

To recap, I walked into my Local Yarn Store (a dangerous thing to do at the best of times, which this was not) several weeks ago, and promptly fell in love with local designer Jamie Thomas's Vested Interest pattern, knit in Quince & Co's linen tape yarn, Kestrel.  I had to knit it immediately.  I walked out with four skeins, went back for two more several days later and last night, two weeks in, and with some very casual, intermittent knitting, had this lovely finished object.

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I'm in love with it!  It looks great with everything I've tried it on with from jeans to a long skirt and it feels great (and hides parts of me I prefer to keep hidden in the back).  It's a wonderful, undemanding, quick summer knit with great style.  Thanks Jamie!

Elliebelly: A Sneak Peek!

I've just received the photos from our photo shoot for the new website, and they are just amazing!  The lovely Amy P outdid herself.

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I can't wait to get to work on the website and figure out how WordPress actually works (as opposed to my current midnight forays into adding a few things here and there) and bringing y'all the information I've been collecting through testing the different bases out with different patterns.  I'm going to have some serious advice about yarn selection for you when I get it all together!

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Until then, I wanted to share a few of Amy's beautiful pictures and some of the lovely knitting that has been done with Elliebelly yarn recently.

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Fairisle Knitting

I've been in love with fairisle knitting ever since I made the whimsical decision to leave California for college in Maine and discovered something I had never worn before:  Sweaters. My housemates had an abundance of gorgeous sweaters.  Brightly colored shetland fairisle yoke sweaters from Talbots, Icelandic wool Lopi's from L.L. Bean and pretty hand knits in Norwegian patterns.  The knitter in me fell instantly in love and even though I live in Alabama now, I still wear my Lopi on a fairly regular basis in Winter.

image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com

Personally, I'm not an accomplished fairisle knitter, but when I do knit fairisle, I give myself over to it unambiguously and I tend to snappishly hint about takeout when it gets to be dinner time.  I adored knitting the Peerie Floers hat, still one of my favorite projects, and have compiled the yarn for a Sjølingstadkofta sweater, which I plan on starting once I finish Mithril.

I've never used the yarn I dye in a fairisle project, so when I learned that a couple of the knitters who have been doing some test knitting with me were interested in fairisle knitting projects, I decided it was time to give it a go.  I'm too excited about the results to wait for official picture taking, and thought I would share a couple of in-progress photos with you this morning.

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First up are these lovely Nikoline socks, knit by Raveler Dover.  They remind me of the patterning on those long ago Norwegian sweaters.  The Old Linen colorway is surprisingly perfect here, although a-non traditional choice for this kind of pattern which you usually see in navy blues or bright reds. And Leuntje is working on a Denim and Brocade hat, knit with Elliebelly Merino Sock in Cavern and Lady Mary.  I was a little bit worried about the contrast with these two colorways, but I'm delighted with the result.

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Leuntje has also completed a Winter Blumen hat, using Lagoon and Muslin as the colors.  You can see it first in progress.

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And here it is finished.

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It is a treat to get to work with such stunningly good knitters!

One note about managing fairisle knitting.  I typically knit both hats and socks on double pointed needles or DPNs, but am seriously thinking about upping my magic loop game and using it for fairisle.  It's not that I don't like magic looping, but I love knitting with DPNs.  There is something about having your knitting hanging off of five different needles and zipping around that makes me feel very accomplished.  But recently, I've been contemplating the folly of traveling with half knit sleeves on all those tiny, slippery,  little needles, and thinking that a I really need to give magic loop more of a try here.  So I'm going to work on that.

Thinking about trying fairisle for the first time?  Remember to keep your floats LOOSE.  Floats are the strands of yarn that run behind your knitting as you switch from color to color. The Philospher's Wool has a lovely video introduction to fairisle that is perfect for getting started.  Here is a video on weaving in your floats as you go (bonus: I use this technique to weave in ends when changing balls of yarn as well.)  It also helps to understand yarn dominance in fairisle knitting, which is discussed here.  Now you're all ready to start!  Although you may want to test the waters with a simple, limited bit of patterning like that is the Boy Meets Girl Hat, which I loved knitting, I suggest you jump into the deep end of the pool and knit a pattern you've fallen in love with.  I hope to hear about your fairisle experiences and favorite patterns.  I think I'm going to have a "Fall of Fairisle" knitting binge this year.

 

 

Knit In Progress: Vested Interest

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Now that I’m about three-quarters of the way through knitting Vested Interest, I can tell you it’s the perfect summer knit.

It’s lightweight to carry around and knit, and especially in Linen, something I’ll be able to wear as soon as it’s finished.

It’s easy. You get a pretty, fitted garment, but virtually the entire project is stockinette. If you can knit, purl, and cast on using the back word Knit method for the armholes, you can manage this one easily.

image from http://joycevance.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341ce9cd53ef01b7c879cf28970b-pi

And finally, it’s something that I will wear a lot. Although I’m often a process knitter, knitting for the pure enjoyment of the technique itself, this piece looks like it could have come off of an Eileen Fisher clothing rack. It is the perfect accent for summer neutrals and the black I more typically wear. As you can see, I’m enjoying trying it on while it’s still on the needles.

My version is knit in Quince and Co.’s Kestrel, a 100% linen tape or chainette style yarn. However, the pattern notes that you could substitute a wool yarn for a winter version. This pattern is versatile enough that I can envision lots of successful variations using a variety of fibers and modifications.

I’m Not Afraid Of Ground Delays

Bad weather plus the usual post-holiday travel crunch has put my flight this morning on a ground delay. That means we are boarded and ready to go, but waiting (and have been for an hour already) with no end in site. I’m caught up on email and have finished the work I brought along for this and the next flight.

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But, I’m not going to be put out of sorts by the delay. I’ve got Vested Interest in my carry on bag to knit and a good supply of podcasts. Cross your fingers for me that my connecting flight is delayed as well!

Summer Knitting

Usually, summer dampens my fervor for knitting a little bit.  Once the mercury hits 90` and the humidity lobs on another 20 or so in feel, the idea of sitting beneath a pile of wool is less appealing.  But, not true this year.  Perhaps that's due to the fact that my two primary projects at the moment are both knit in linen, but I'm also looking forward to picking up my Summer Moon, knit from Merino, and finishing it, as soon as these two are finished.

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Happy Fourth of July to the U.S. knitters among us and happy summer knitting to everyone!

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I'm still playing yarn chicken with Mithril.  My current plan is to finish out the sleeves with ball four and then use what is left to pick up the neckline and finish it.  There is a little bit left in ball three so I can add some length, but I'd like to make this as long as possible and am hopeful there will be a bit left from ball four as well.  The silk linen blend is beautiful and I really love the pattern.  I might knit the neckline a bit less generously if I were to do it again, but it's a simple pattern, perfect for a first sweater.  The stockinette never gets boring, as you're always looking forward to the next cable and watching that pattern grow.

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This is Jamie Thomas's Vested Interest, knit in Quince Kestrel. I've just started in on it.  If you're coveting all of the beautiful Eileen Fisher summer linen knits, this is a great pattern for you.  And it's the ultimate in public knitting projects — all stockinette with two very simple armholes.  I'm reserving this one for knitting with friends.  One quick note if you decide to knit it — grab an extra skein or two.  I started out with four skeins per the pattern, but picked up two extra, which I will clearly need, along with a third for insurance. Kestrel is reasonable priced, so even with the additional skeins, this is still a moderately priced project. 

Random Pretty Yarn

Here are a couple of random pretties to brighten up the middle of your week.

Pinks

This is "Bliss" — the palest of my pinks, ready for a little color work adventure.

Mahogany

It's mate, "Mahogany" is my favorite brown of all time.  Just enough gray.  Just enough brown.  Definitely not boring.  I want to knit a bulky sweater out of this color for winter and hibernate in it!

Bluesilk

"Margaery" is one of my all time favorite colors, but I'm not a good enough photographer to capture its rich turquoise tones.  The photo above is on a silk/cashmere blend, so it's slightly more muted than its Blue Faced Leicester cousin, below.  Although there is some variation in this (and all hand dyed yarns), depending on the precise blend of fibers used, these two are actually quite close in real life, and somewhere in between the two photos.  Getting a good picture of Margaery is my knitting holy grail at the moment.

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