All of a sudden, it's windy here. I guess March is truly coming in like a lion here. And February just whooshed by too, with glorious springlike weather that was equal parts scary (climate change is real!) and wonderful to play in.
Somehow, I managed to not be in this space at all, but that didn't mean there wasn't anything happening on my needles or on my loom. Whoops.
The most fun of all was the reprise of the Bang Out a Sweater knitalong - this time with worsted weight wool and rows of colorwork that had three colors at a time AND purls. Craziness.
Besides changing the color palette of the sweater, I more or less knit the pattern exactly as written - a rarity for me, since I see patterns more as, um, suggestions.
The changes I did make are what makes handknits so wonderful, because they're customized to one's own body and fit preferences. I knit a size smaller than I "should" have based on the pattern recommendations. The pattern was designed to have tons and tons of positive ease, and I figured I could do with a slouchy sweater but not so much a tent-blanket-thing. After blocking, I have a comfortable level of positive ease, but not too much, making me one happy camper. And, as I usually do, I shortened the body and the sleeves just a tad. And, for an extra touch of luxury, all edges are done in tubular cast-on/bind-off. Because it's pretty.
Can you spot the difference in these sleeves? On the left is the colorwork pattern as I originally envisioned it, but as I was knitting, I felt like the colors on the bottom were getting mired down. So on the second sleeve, I played with a different color combination, moving the darker colors to the center of the motif. Then I spent a day or two staring at them, deciding which one I liked better. All that was left to do was unravel the one I didn't like, and proceed with the sleeves.
The result is a sweater that some people on Instagram have called dark and moody, but I just think it's cozy and comfortable and I hope the March winds keep the weather cool enough so I can wear it all the time.
A side effect of knitting a size smaller than I'd planned is all the leftover yarn. Besides almost full skeins of each of the colors used in the motifs, I had two whole skeins of the dark brown. I used it to play with weft-faced weaving, naturally jumping into the deep end with flamepoint. I did go a bit cross-eyed trying to figure it out, with four different shuttles in play at a time, but I'm loving the effect. Perhaps a purse to go with my cozy sweater?
After weeks of stubbornly refusing to do the finishing touches on my #bangoutasweater, I’m proud to say that it’s finished!
The problem for me was how to deal with the steeks. I knitted on a band and was trying to sew down live stitches to the wrong side of the fabric, like a steek taco instead of a steek sandwich. But that meant I had to sew the live stitch down to exactly the right corresponding stitch – on black yarn. It was tedious work –difficult to see and difficult to get right because … black yarn.
Once I finally got my act together, I knew what I had to do – unpick what I’d already sewn down, knit another row or two, and bind off. Now I had flaps, and just pinned them down so they encased the steek edges. The beauty of knitting is that it’s pretty forgiving, so this time I didn’t have to go stitch by stitch to get it perfectly right – I could just whipstitch the bands into place, and this time it looked much more even.
Then it went for a wash and just needed a zipper. Last time I used this tutorial, but this time I found Purl Soho’s gave me exactly what I wanted with a minimum of fuss. I find that the simpler something a technique is, the more likely I am to actually do it. Purl Soho's tutorial fit the bill.
And then I got to wear it. I love, love, love the zipper, and the neckline behaves just the way I wanted to – pulling away from my neck without flopping against it in the way that drives me crazy.
One of the things that has kept me from knitting a sweater at this gauge is a concern about it being too warm – but it’s not. This yarn is so lightweight that the sweater weighs practically nothing and is as light and airy and just as warm as I want it to be without being too hot.
Much has been made about whether or not Lopi yarn is itchy. This wool isn’t soft like Merino, but it’s not really itchy either. Most of the itch in the unwashed yarn seemed to come from vegetable matter that was easy to pick out while I was knitting it. After I washed it, it softened up quite a bit. Some people like to use hair conditioner to soften it even more, but I just used Eucalan.
I found that there was a bit of a prickle when I first but the sweater on, but that soon disappeared into a light cloud of warmth. Now I’m drooling over all the different colors of lopi yarn and planning half a dozen sweaters from this yarn. Don’t worry, I’m doing everything I can to hold myself back. Besides, I’ve still got the Anna vest to knit.
February seems to be a month of knitalongs for me this year. For the first two weeks of this month, I banged out a sweater, and now I'm joining the Anna Vest Knitalong.
I'm so close to finishing the sweater I knit for #bangoutasweater, and yet so far. I knit a whole sweater - and then steeked it. Easy enough.
Then I picked up and knit bands from the steeked edge of the sweater. Also easy enough.
I decided I would knit the bands to be long enough so they could be folded over the steeked edge and sewn down. The knitting part was perfectly easy, but the sewing down, not so much. I left the band stitches live, and tried sewing them down against the back edge. It's a twisty, tangly mess, and I suspect this is why people don't like knitting with black yarn.
It's hard to see which purl bump goes with which stitch, and I can only stand working on it for about ten minutes at a time. I know I probably need to go back to the drawing board, but I'm being stubborn about it.
While I let these silly bands marinate in my mind, I'm moving on to something bright and shiny (and with lighter colored yarn)...the Anna Vest.
When I bought Farm to Needle last year, I knew I had to knit the Anna Vest. The fact that Karen at Fringe & Co is holding a knitalong - and there was a discount on the yarn - is what convinced me to get my butt in gear and actually knit the thing.
I'm using Thirteen Mile yarn in the light gray variegated shade. It's one strand of white and one strand of gray spun together. I usually don't go for marled yarns, but there's so little contrast between the two that it ends up looking like a silvery gray color.
This is the first time I've knit with organic yarn. This yarn is crunchy and soft at the same time. It's advertised as a worsted weight, but it really seems like more of a sock weight to me.
I was thrown for a big loop when I went to begin the Andalusian stitch pattern called for in the pattern instructions. It turns out the stitch pattern is tucked into the back of the book instead of embedded in the actual pattern itself.
I also thought I was having tension problems. After a couple of inches of knitting I had a wobbly mess, but a light steam block while still on the needles smoothed it out just fine.
The goal is to have two finished objects by the end of the month...we'll see what happens!
Even though I went down to a slightly smaller needle to get a snugger fit, knitting the sweater has flown by. It's been ages since I've knit anything with bulky wool or needles bigger than a size 6, so this whole #bangoutasweater business has gone by fast.
After about five hours of knitting, I had a sleeve. After another five hours, another sleeve. Six hours after that, I have the body done to the underarms, and once the sleeves were joined to the body, I had the yoke completed. If you don't feel like doing math, that's 20 hours for most of the size small sweater.
The color work on the yoke is most decidedly not a Stopover – instead, I used Anna's Lopapeysa as a starting point, simplifying a few of the color choices and modifying a couple of the color work patterns a bit.
If I wanted to just knit a few rounds of ribbing, I would have a sweater, and a pretty nice one at that. But no.
After I knit the collar, which is going to be taller than your average lopapeysa, I'm taking my scissors to this baby. I'm going to steek it down the front, knit on bands, and sew in a zipper.
Estimated time: unknown. Still, this is probably the fastest I've ever knit a sweater.
What's your record time for knitting a sweater?
This #bangoutasweater business is fun! The pattern is Stopover, knit with Lettlopi. My yarn was waiting in my mailbox yesterday when I got home from work.
The most time consuming part so far has been casting on - and only because I chose to do a tubular cast on instead of a long-tail one.
After about five hours of knitting, I have a size small sleeve. It's an inch shorter than the pattern calls for - I have short arms.
The Lettlopi is just a tad scratchier than I expected. I think it will be fine in the sweater, and a good wash might get it closer to my expectations.
The colors I chose are three shades of gray and a light turquoise. The two lighter shades are very close to each other. I do like the way they blend to create a gradient. The darker gray is almost black, which brings me to my next thought...
What's the big deal about knitting with black yarn?
So many knitters avoid knitting with black yarn that it's almost hard to find black yarn. Where did this myth come from that knitting with black yarn is hard to do and is to be avoided at all costs?
It doesn't seem to be all that different - especially when knitting in stockinette. I'm using a row counter to count my gauge and a stitch marker to mark the beginning of the round, but that's the same as normal for me.
This yarn (shade 005) is technically still a gray - it does have some specks of white in it, but I think it will be a great color for a black sweater. Bring on the black yarn!
I've also been thinking about the issues I have with the pattern, and I think I've made some design decisions.
I'm knitting the pattern in a size small on slightly smaller needles. This should get me to a result that is somewhere between a small and extra small. It will be snug on me, but still fit.
I'm definitely going to steek it. I'm also going to knit the collar to be quite deep, like a turtleneck. This way, when the sweater is worn open (how I normally wear them), the edges will pull out slightly. This, combined with the snug fit, will get me closer to my preferred v-neck shape without having to perform any olympics of pattern design.
I'm leaning towards putting in a zipper. That way, if I get really cold, I can zip the sweater up and be perfectly comfortable.
I'm also tempted to put in pockets, but that will depend on whether or not I have enough yarn. I should, but pockets will be a game-time decision.
The last decision I have to make is also the hardest: what to do about the colorwork pattern. I've pulled a few ideas for the colorwork onto a Pinterest board.
I'm loving colorwork these days, and wouldn't be opposed to working two strands of yarn for a bigger chunk of the sweater. But it could also be lovely to have just a tiny band of colorwork around the neckline, like a tiny necklace.
Luckily, I still have a couple of days before I have to make a decision, since I still have one more sleeve and the body of the sweater to knit....
Are you banging out a sweater? How's it going?
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