I've already apologized for being late (fashionably, I hope) to the party that is 2015 year-in-review blog posts. There's just so much that happened last year!
One of my most exciting accomplishments in 2015 was that I started to design my own sweaters - two with my own handspun! And, while I'd only knit a sweater a year from 2012-2014, in 2015 I made two sweaters and a vest. Not too shabby.
I still have a lot to learn about sweater design and fit, but I'm pretty exciting about what I have learned, and I'm loving that I'm taking a more active role in creating my own wardrobe.
How I designed it: This sweater is a mishmash of Elizabeth Zimmerman sweaters: the classic EPS, the Brooks, with a v-neck and a shawl collar thrown in. I also designed the colorwork pattern. I wanted subtly shifting colors, without big motifs.
What I learned:
This sweater quickly became one of my favorite sweaters - as soon as it was done (and cold enough), I've worn it almost every day. Rest assured, it does get washed, and while it's drying there is a serious hole in my wardrobe.
As I mentioned above, I did learn that stranded colorwork stretches vertically when washed and blocked. Of course, I didn't learn that until after knitting the entire sweater, and ended up having to do some surgery on the sleeves to make them shorter. But I do love the long length of the overall sweater because....
I made it too big. This is a roomy sweater, even though (I think) I intended for the result to be more fitted. As I discovered later on in the year, I tend to overestimate what size I need (even after I've measured myself).
The Key Takeaways:
How I designed it: I used an existing vest (like this one) for the initial measurements and worked from there. Added a cable detail at the edges. Pockets + zipper.
What I learned:
This vest is extra special to me because it is made from local Jacob wool that I handspun myself. Because there wasn't enough of one color to make a whole vest, I decided to go for an ombre effect.
The armholes are a little funky - they're a bit too deep, and at the same time they're too shallow for the edging I chose. I really didn't want to do a knitted-on edging, though that might have worked better.
Overall, the coolest thing about this vest are the finishing touches - the zipper and the pockets. They make it a much more wearable item, especially the way I use this vest - as an in-between weathers piece, particularly when hiking.
The Key Takeaways:
Old Man Corriedale
How I designed it: This is a mashup of EPS, the measurements of the Jacob vest, and some other sweater design basics. It's not quite done yet, but since all the main pieces were made in 2015, I'm counting it!
What I learned:
The body and sleeves of this sweater are made, and I'm almost done seaming the sleeves. The body was made in one piece, and that's where it's fitting a little large. Since it's destined to be a cardigan, I'm planning on lopping off a few inches at the center front before I pick up for the neck band. After that, all that's left are pockets!
The Key Takeaways:
If you know me, you know I love books. My house is covered in them. In 2015, I read close to 80 of them. Here are the knitting-related highlights.
The Shepherd's Life - I've already waxed poetic on this one. Even if you're not a knitter, you're missing out if you haven't read this one.
The Illustrated Herdwick Shepherd - Like The Shepherd's Life, but with more (gorgeous) color pictures. If you're in the States, you'll have to pay a bit more to get it, but it's worth every penny.
Super Stitches Knitting - This is my go-to stitch dictionary. It's compact and has a ton of different types of stitches. It might not have exactly what I'm looking for, but it usually has something close. If I'm traveling and know I'll need a stitch dictionary (as one does), I bring this one.
Adventures in Yarn Farming - The story of a couple who buys a farm and becomes shepherds. Basically my life's dream. With beautiful photos and projects.
Knitting Pattern Essentials - The title may be a bit broad, since this book really just deals with designing sweater patterns. But for sweater design, it has everything you need.
The Spinner's Book of Fleece - Gorgeous, with all the information you'd need to up your spinning game. With individual profiles of different types of wool.
Knitting Around - Anything by Elizabeth Zimmerman is golden. In addition to her no-nonsense patterns, this book also has an interesting autobiographical aspect to it. Well worth a read.
Finishing School - Even if you already know how to block and seam your garments, this book has so much valuable information on swatching, garment construction, and design. My copy is a little dog-eared since I consult it constantly.
Top Down - All about how to knit top-down sweaters with set-in style sleeves. I've knit one sweater in this method and loved it. Still trying to wrap my head around the theory, but the patterns are lovely.
Farm to Needle - I've already mentioned this book, but it's worth mentioning again. Amazing stories, beautiful photos, tempting patterns. This book has it all.
Buachaille: At Home in the Highlands - Kate Davies's latest, with patterns designed for her new yarn line. Luscious pohotos, wonderful writing, projects, and recipes. As always, a home run.
Did any knitting/fiber books take a special place on your shelf last year? I'd love to hear about them!
*note: some links in this post contain affiliate links.
So many sweaters, so little time. If you missed Brooklyn Tweed's latest, head on over there. My favorites, on the left and the right, are Tallis (left) and Intersect (right). And from Farm to Needle, the Mysig cardigan.
It doesn't hurt that these sweaters are all shown in my favorite colors, aka, neutral on neutral. All simple, but far from boring. Be still my heart.
What's on your radar these days?
I fear I'm a bit late to the party that is 2015 year-in-review. Surely resolutions are already forgotten, and maybe the gym is starting to empty out again. There's just so much to process (a whole year's worth, to be exact).
But lest you think that 2015 went by unnoticed, I plan to celebrate it here for what's left of January.
2015 was the year I became an aunt. (That's her blanket you see up there - it was born in 2014, though)
2015 was the year I started this blog.
2015 was the year I met so many of you on Instagram. (You're all amazing, by the way!)
2015 was the year I learned to spin.
2015 was the year I learned to weave.
2015 was the year I learned stranded colorwork.
2015 was the year I learned to knit continental. (Still working on purling...)
2015 was the year I finally took the plunge and started designing my own sweaters.
2015 was the year I finally got clear on what it is I want to do when I "grow up."
2015 was the year my husband's business really took off, giving us the opportunity to chase our dreams.
2015 was the year I learned how to organize my time so that I have more time and energy to do all this crafty goodness - whether it's knitting, weaving, or spinning, the more the better!
2015 certainly had its ups and downs, but overall it was filled with love, learning and making new friends. Here's to more of the same (and better!) in 2016!