Julie knits and writes and knits.

Archive for Finished

Twin Fair Isle Sampler Vests

At last!

Finally finished these little buggers...

The short version: Started a small child’s vest. The child outgrew the vest before I could finish it. Then I realized I did have another child coming up who would fit it…. but this child had a twin sibling…. Reasonable people have stopped following this story…

We pick up half-way through the second vest before discovering that the yarn brand has been discontinued, and the red yarn, in particular hard to find, but finally found it through good old (I wouldn’t complete anything without

And so, at last, these babies went off with their Lala to my great-niece and great-nephew in Pittsburgh today. Very fun little projects. Maybe if my desk clears, I’ll fix the currently-imperfect Stitch-Painter paper pattern, below, though there should be enough in this schematic for you Fair Isle Freaks to go by if you want to reproduce one for yourself.

I really got a kick out of the huge difference in gauge between my first vest– my first Fair Isle project, and the second, several projects into my knitting life. I actually decreased the second vest by one full medallion in circumference (doesn’t match up nicely in the pattern that way, so I don’t recommend this if you’re taking it on.), but it ended up matching the first vest in width, perfectly. I’ve loosened up that much! Crimey!

I used these color patterns, but not the exact decreases to make these vests. See below...

This vest knits up to about a size 4T. I used Digit (which is JaggerSpun 2/8 Heather), and would do it again in a proper Shetland Jamieson’s.

I started decreasing for the neck and the armpits at the same time, actually, choosing a centerpoint of a medallion for the v-neck’s center stitch. Put 12 stitches on yarn holders at each armpit, 1 stitch on holder at neck. Backward-cast-on 5-stitch steeks at each armpit and neck, then decreasing 1 st. every other row at each side of each armpit, and one stitch every third row on each side of the v-neck.  All of that is to say, I ignored the whole top of the pattern except it reminded me to be careful to keep my medallions aligned as I knit on up the steeks. Shoulders are joined using three-needle bind-off on the outside, having ended the work in the middle of a gold perie pattern.

I locked the steeks in place using slip-stitched crochet before cutting them. They are barely tacked into place using just the threads that needed to be worked into the work. Blocking the vests already had those little steeked facings sticking nicely in place. That would be more the case if you used a real shetland wool, which I would do next time. The merino is soft and pretty, but it doesn’t hold as strongly as a proper shetland would.

Right. There’s another set of twins in my future. I think they’re getting blankets, though. Safer….


iPhone Mitts: The Worsted

The iPhone Mitts are proving to be such simple, useful hand warmth delivery systems, that I succumbed to pressure to do the math and provide here proof of a worsted-weight version that knits up in a quarter of the time of the fingering-weight wonders…. and here they are:

So instructions: Download the iPhone Mitts pattern, and change the math thusly:

Use Worsted Weight Yarn (in this case my leftover Noro Cash Iroha, and precisely two skeins and 182 meters, US Size 6 dpns

Cast On 40 stitches.

Knit 34 rows before starting thumb gussets.

Work until thumb gussets are just 9 stitches

Cast on just 2 stitches when you resume knitting after putting the gusset stitches on hold.

The whole length of the tube is 90 rows from cast on to cast off row.

Pick up 5 st for a total of 14 thumb stitches.

Work 12 thumb rows after pickup.

These are stretchy monkeys. I knit them to fit my hands, but they easily fit my son-in-law (my man model here) and my husband’s much larger hands.

Having worn them for a couple of days, I’ll observe that the worsted versions are much warmer, of course, but also much bulkier. When the weather warrants it, I’ll gladly upgrade warmth for bulky discomfort, but for 80 percent of winter, I still want the fingering-weight versions. They just let me move my hands more easily, afford my hands more mobility.

By the way, my sister-in-law, Betsy, a new knitter who easily took on the iPhone Mitts for her daughter, would have me note that the convenience of tucking the thumbs into the palm fold and scrunching these babies up onto your wrists while shopping is a really critical feature of the design. “Forget iPhone Mitts,” she says, “These are Shopping Mitts!!” Not much of a shopper myself, I defer to her.

They have been taken up by folks doing fine work outdoors. These range from dog trainers and fishermen to photographers and bicyclists. Skiers note that when you fold the cuff inside, you have three layers of wool protecting your fingertips, which they love, being able to quickly squinch these back to fumble for change or lip balm makes their whole day. Runners note they can use the superwash wool, and not feel bad about using them to wipe noses and face sweat mid-run, just wash them along with their other running gear…

Everyone notes that they are very dull knitting. Mindless. But who doesn’t need mindless knitting? Once in awhile?

The Shoddy Little Sweater

Some projects just find their own time. I began this sweater on June 30, 2007. Flickr keeps track of these things for me. So 18 months in the making, and another month or so for the photo shoot.

It began with the yarn. I saw hanks of Colinette Parisienne in Soft Sienna at Lizzie Ann’s Wool Company in Holland, Michigan, one of my favorite LYSs. I had to have the yarn. I knew it was for my daughter.

The yarn reminded me of dryer lint. But in a good way. You know that soft non-color of dryer lint? It’s kind of blue, kind of grey, kind of pink? It’s fuzzy, light, soft?

I brought the yarn home and started swatching with it.

I already had the idea of making something tiny for my daughter, something t-shirty or camisolish, and had been swatching with silks and merinos and rare Habu Textiles stuff, but not falling in love.

But this yarn.

I knew I wanted to live with it for awhile. I found the needle size (US 5) to make the fabric that made me happiest.

Then came a class with Lily Chin, learning to design knitwear for my own body, or anyone else’s. I’d been steeping myself in Zimmerman, and so Chin’s class layered courage on Zimmerman courage along with some techniques for drawing patterns and constructing garments.

Just watching my girl and how she dresses made the form clear: A t-shirt. But not too, too sweet of a t-shirt. A long t-shirt that pokes fun at t-shirts.

I wanted to mess with the stockinette.

And then the women in my family were having fun with this word, “shoddy.” My hilarious niece, one of the funniest people I know, started us all using the word in a way that injected it with affection and comfort and kindness. A dryer-lint sort of feeling.

I decided to call the project Shoddy. At that point the rest of the form sort of fell into place. I knew it would have random yarn-over holes. (It turns out I’m not capable of completely random behavior, because I formed rules about the holes as I knit. I couldn’t help it.)

And then the process was pretty straightforward. I grabbed one of my daughter’s favorite t-shirts, and used it to make a pattern and a fabric model for the piece, which traveled in the project bag and served as a reference as I knitted.

I knew I wanted to make a seamless sweater, and did my math to know how many stitches to cast on. I cast on provisionally, thinking I might want to knit t-shirt-style hems, but not wanting to decide right away. (I did do this in the end, but after changing my mind 42 times.)

Then I just knit to match the fabric model, marking the sides, and decreasing two stitches at each side for a few rows to form waistline curve, and increasing to climb back up to the armpits. The yarn overs are either single or double YOs, decreasing with the next stitch so that I was never increasing or decreasing stitch numbers except at the sides for shaping. I decided to swim the holes up fro the sides in the front to the center, and just run a line of them down the center in the back. Not sure why. It just felt right.

The arms were a little challenge. I wanted the exact angle of the sleeves from the original t-shirt, and if I were Elizabeth or Meg, I probably could have figured out how to increase at the armpit to make them without seams, but I chose to start the sleeves flat –again casting on provisionally — for about an inch to match the flat pattern before joining them to the body. as you would for any seamless sweater. So it’s not an entirely seamless sweater. There is a one-inch seam under each sleeve. I’ll loiter in seamless sweater purgatory for a few millenia for that, I’m sure.

I had recently made a complete Elizabeth Zimmerman EPS Saddle-shoulder, and was still madly in love with the fit and the fun of knitting it, and so chose that style for this piece. I planned on a kind of funnel-neck, and knit it that way at first, but when the girl tried it on, it just… blech. No. I knew I had to rip back to make a bateau, but… A.) ripping mohair is just not fun. B.) I had no idea how to knit a bateau neckline.

And so the piece lingered and reproached me for… a while.

I next went off to a weekend camp at Schoolhouse Press with Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen and Joyce Williams. Show and tell is part of that, and I decided to show the Shoddy, though it was incomplete. Anybody who visited with this sweater had the same impulse, to throw it up in the air and watch it float. It’s that light and fluffly. Meg did that with Shoddy. And her eyes sparkled. It was a happy moment for me, let me tell you. Well, they eliminated all of my agony in about four seconds, Meg and Joyce, who pointed me to this neckline on this sweater:

Which you’ll find in her book Latvian Dreams, which of course I had. I felt a little like Dorothy. I’d had the answer with me the whole time. And now I had more courage from the Source, the Well, from Mecca.

So you would have thought I would have ripped right into that baby. No, I kind of sat on it for awhile. Not sure why, though I have likened it to finishing a good book. I really slowed this project down.

I ripped back the neck, and found the bateau an easy and elegant thing to knit. No problem. Basically you’re knitting two little V-neck decrease points at each shoulder, then a purl turning ridge, and then increasing at the same point so that when you fold the hem back inside, it matches up, and all you have to do is stitch the live stitches down. Very easy and elegant.

And that dictated the hem treatments for the arms and bottom hem too. Simple…. so why wasn’t I finishing it?

It just sat without its hems for ever so long. I pulled it out and pet it, folded it up and put it away… for MONTHS.

Post Project Depression. That’s the only thing I can offer for why it has taken me so long. I loved this baby, and had a hard time letting it go.

But then winter returned, and my daughter was kind of wondering.. and my knitting friends were wondering, and everyone has been wondering…

I finished it. Blocked it. Gave it. And today, finally, have photographed it. It worked. It’s pretty.

Thank you, thank you to all who helped inspire and teach and offer courage.

And on to the next unfinished thing…

The whole gestation is documented here.

Three socks.

Two months since my last post? Really?


Actually, I’m noting today a vast number of dropped balls, and regretting every one. A good time to bury my head in some knitting….

There HAS been some knitting… I’ve taken some snaps, so I will catch up, I will. It seems to be this photography thing that stops me. BUT I’m planning to attend a workshop with the amazing Jared of BrooklynTweed in a week or so, at the amazing City Knitting in Grand Rapids, and so I’m sure I’ll come away feeling inspired to more photography, more blogging. I’m sure. (What happened to the last two months? This past year? A complete blur.)

Koigu Linen Stitch Sock

Koigu Linen Stitch Sock

Well, I have frogged and worked this sock so many times the yarn is a bit worn out. The sock itself is… fine. It’s just fine. Not spectacular, not at all the masterwork I was hoping for it to be, but a decent first attempt at playing with the new Cat Bordhi Sockitecture recipe (Do catch her class if you have a sock thang. Just do.) I quibble only with her proportion of heel flap increases. I’m a pretty high-arched human, and think really you need fewer increases there. (On this sock I made fewer.) But never mind that. The recipe is incredibly empowering for people who like to just cast on new socks, and decide later what sort of socks they are knitting. That would be me. To test the recipe, I grabbed some scrap yarn and knit some footsies. These in the leftover Quebequois from my recent hat diversion:


All the arch increases happen with those cute eyelets. Then I challenged Cat’s math with this superbulky leftover Takhi from the Pinkie Blankie adventure:

Tahki Baby Footsies

Tahki Baby Footsies

The recipe holds up fine, of course. Arch increases here are along the center front of the foot. Nice and neat. And am almost done with these Koigu babies

Koigu sock made to fit

Koigu sock made to fit

even as I eye my sock yarn stash and the feet that surround me to look for my next project. The arch increases here are all made on one side of the stockinette stripe that then wraps the foot, climbs the ankle, and joins the 4×2 rib at the top.

Toe-up Whirlpool Toe

Toe-up Whirlpool Toe

Sexy little toe-up toe, yeah? Fun stuff, Bordhi’s recipes. I recommend. Very good for custom-sizing for difficult-to-fit-feet.

Pinkie News

Hi there folks. Thought I’d better mention that Pinkie Blankie is now available for download from Ravelry, where you can cue it up and see, at this count, around 20 or so of them being worked up in lots of gauges and ways by fellow Ravelers.

Pinkie Blankie on Ravelry

The dear ones at Lime n Violet featured Pinkie on their Chum blog today. An honor! To prepare for this, I did a photo shoot of the scarf, getting much better pics, but especially one with a willing and docile model…

Pinkie Blankie on Charlie

Pinkie Blankie on Charlie

He’s expensive, but worth it, don’t you think?

Yes, you’re right, I’ve been lagging

Not in my knitting, mind you. I’ve been knitting. Not in a finishing mode much lately. However, I’m destined for a knitting sleepover with buddies at the end of the week, and have finishing on my mind for a couple of projects there. Depends on the ratio of silliness:knitting. We’ll see.

Meantime, though, babies have been happening, and garter stitch very much in the air, thanks to garter mojo oozing from northern Wisconsin and Brooklyn. Smacking me upside my head from both directions.

So a couple of these:

BSJ in handspun for baby Michael

BSJ in handspun for baby Michael

BSJ for the next baby

BSJ for the next baby

And that led me quite naturally to get started on that Meg Swansen vest that Jack claimed from the sweater room at Schoolhouse Press.

I can’t tell you how many sweater patterns and vest patterns I’ve dangled in front of that man, how many discussions about what woolen garments he will and will not wear, but nothing could quite prepare me for his falling in love with this:

Megs Vest on Blurry Jack

Meg's Vest on Blurry Jack

Megs Vest Back

Meg's Vest Back

Now, of course… he’s not a frog guy. And he does like his more sedate colors, and so here’s where we are so far….

Megs Vest in Jacks Colors

Meg's Vest in Jack's Colors

It’s a kissing cousin to the BSJ, a friendly little knit, starting with the cast on that runs down the fronts of the vest from armpit-height around the back, mitering up the front of the vests until you complete the fronts to the side of the body, then knitting back and forth the way you would a Zimmerman saddle to knit up the back to the armpit. Then you work strictly on the back until you get to the back of the neck, work the fronts down from the back of the neck, working some cute short rows to make those nice cuppy shoulders, and join back at the front with a three-needle bind off. Icord for about four years around the entire outside. We will not include frogs.

He sees this as the perfect around-the-house deep winter warmer upper. No sleeves is the part that makes him happy. And there’s a definite Robert Bly kind of pull my old hippie has to this garment. No doubt about that.

Knitting it up in two plies of the magical Unspun Icelandic that Schoolhouse Press sells. This stuff is really wonderful to work with. I’m dying to finish it so I can tackle some single-ply projects. I can see myself getting a lot done in this wool.

The pattern? It’s scratched on notes from my class in Marshfield, and not mine to share anyway. But if you’re interested, all you really have to do is whine enough to the folks at Schoolhouse, and I’m sure a pattern will surface somehow.

Cherry Leaf Shawl to Auction

Ah! It’s done, it’s beautiful, if I may say so, and it’s headed off to auction.

Could not have finished this without the generous support of Ravelry friends in GB and CT who sourced the last two skeins of yarn. This took four skeins of Jitterbug. It’s mostly the Cherry Leaf Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, knit up with maybe 6 more repeats of leaves, with a completely different border, which I edited down from another of her borders in the book.

So, it’s going to raise funds for a friend’s bone marrow transplant. What should I ask for an opening bid… Want to come to the super cool party? It’ll be great poetry and fiction readings and wonderful music and a good auction… This coming Sunday. Details here….