And now for some colorful cheer

Published on Thursday January 7th, 2010

Thanks for your responses to the last post, everyone. Seanna Lea offered a useful nudge to remember to give the good parts their full measure rather than letting the bad color the general memory, and that’s advice I’d do well to take to heart right now. So here’s a good thing from 2009: my friendship with Katrin and our cozy almost-weekly knitting sessions. This (last, I guess) year they culminated in a New Year’s Day exchange of Ivy League Vests:


Hello! We are the same, but different!

Don’t you just love how a few color shifts can totally change the effect of a Fair Isle-type pattern? Two of our lights and two of our darks are quite similar, but the two other colors — chartreuse vs. mauve, chocolate vs. burgundy — and the brightness of Katrin’s white and blues give the two vests very different feels.

I’ve already worn mine about four times. Long live the Annual Christmas Knitting Exchange!

In league

Published on Monday November 23rd, 2009

The second annual Sarah + Katrin Christmas knitting exchange is only a month away. Last year’s pattern, you may remember, was the February Lady Sweater:


The idea is that we choose a pattern we both want to knit, select the yarn we want to end up wearing, and swap. Then the knitting begins. So last year I got to work with the glorious Luscious Silk Single from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and I’ve had a whole year of pleasure in wearing my sweater of Blue Moon Twisted.

We kicked around a bunch of ideas for this year’s pattern, but finally settled on Eunny Jang’s Ivy League Vest (Interweave Knits Winter 2007) after discovering that we each had ample stash possibilities for this project. I believe we bought an extra skein each, but that was it! Mine are almost all Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift; Katrin’s are a hodgepodge of Hifa II, Satakieli (which I brought her after I went to Knitting Camp), and Elemental Affects Shetland.


(Imagine a springy chartreuse rather than that dull yellow, will you? The other colors are accurate.) Here it is on Ravelry if you want to keep track of my progress. I am juggling it with three other holiday gift knits, but I’m feeling strong for a timely finish, even given the STEEKING that has to happen and the MANY, MANY ENDS I’ll need to weave in. (Note to self: For the love of Pete, girl, give that spit-splicing method a try.) I’m already at the V-neck shaping, and the armscyes are coming along in just a few rounds.

Mods: Those among you who have already knit this vest will notice there’s an extra large-pattern band in there. K & I thought the version in the magazine looked suspiciously cropped, and we’re both fans of that comfortable overlap of sweater and jeans that prevents cold drafts and peeping eyes from finding one’s upper bum, should one choose to bend over. Thus I’ve lengthened K’s vest by casting on the next-largest size and working an extra peerie and an extra large band, while decreasing at the rate directed down to a stitch count that would give me the desired waist size. Then I was back on track to proceed with the bust increases for the target size.

Knavish knitting

Published on Tuesday October 27th, 2009

Three pricks to the conscience in twenty-four hours can’t be ignored. First an off-hand comment from my husband: “Gosh, sweetie, you haven’t updated your blog in a while.” Then a heartfelt note of admiration from a reader on the other side of the world, of which I hardly felt worthy. And finally a call from my father, who checks Blue Garter almost every day for news of his eldest and was beginning to be concerned that I might be sick or sunk in a blue mood.

The truth is I’m just fine. I started a miscellaneous post and lost interest in it before it was done. The post I was excited to write a week ago was about something old-but-new I was trying with my mother’s Three and One sweater. This sweater is in Aran-weight wool, and I was concerned about the bulk of a regular steeked edge at the neckline and armholes. Then I read about Norwegian pseudo-steeks: cutting open your knitting with no steek allowance stitches added in. And there’s this brilliant method of picking up stitches with a larger needle, working a couple of rounds, then going back with a smaller needle, picking up the backs of the stitch heads from the inside and working a couple of rounds on those stitches, then joining the two lines to wrap the cut edge, tidily sealing it up for good and leaving a beautiful finished edge. Of course now I can’t remember where I read about that last part—someone’s going to remind me in the Comments and then I’ll add an update, which is what’s tops about the internet—but I was preparing a nice little photo tutorial for you as I went along.

Then it all went awry. The knitting turned on me, friends.

It turns out that one line of machine-sewn stitches, even if they’re teensy, is not enough to secure a steek edge if you’re not using fine and sticky yarn. I picked up as described and encased my steek edge, but I knew I couldn’t trust it… It looked pretty but felt dodgy, like Mr. Wickham. And when I gingerly gave it a few experimental tugs, the cut floats started to work free. No good. It pains me to imagine my mother’s distress if she were to wear her sweater and the sleeves started to come loose and unravel. I had a few panicky moments where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to salvage the top half of the sweater at all. But I carefully pulled out my work and skedaddled back to my trusty sewing machine. I went over the first line again from the back side, tucking in those wayward float ends. Then I sewed a second line beside it.

Now I had an edge that felt really sturdy, and it naturally wanted to fold to the inside, docile and waiting politely to be tacked down with overcast stitches. So I didn’t fight it. I picked up stitches around the armhole in the usual way and proceeded with my sleeve. Ah well. At least the sweater is saved and still on track to be done for Christmas.

Yes, it’s time to be thinking seriously about holiday gift knitting. I’m not sure quite what became of October, but it’s nearly gone. So Katrin and I finally made a decision about this year’s KAL/exchange. We each had stash yarn that would work for Eunny Jang’s Ivy League Vest, so that’s what we picked. I couldn’t resist casting on right away, and I’m already into the first large band. We both wanted to lengthen the torso of this cropped design, so I’ve started with a size larger than Katrin needs to accommodate shaping over the hips, and I’ll just keep decreasing until I’m down to the correct stitch count for her waist size. I love the browns, teals, and bright pop of new-leaf green she’s chosen.

This pattern means steeks again, though. I’m going to be well practiced indeed, working the Three and One and the Ivy League at once! Anyone need any knitting cut open? I’ll be your girl. Those steeks won’t get the better of me again.