Oriel Lace Blouse

It was lacy. It had pearl buttons. I had favorited several different versions in Ravelry. It was the perfect project for spring and fall. And I already owned the pattern. The yarn (Cascade Venezia Sport) was a bit of a shot in the dark since I had never seen it in person but it looked pretty online. And the pattern is written by one of my favorite designers– Shirley Paden. Once I had ordered a sweater’s worth of yarn, I was committed. 


I modified the pattern to work the body and sleeves in the round. The body up to the armholes, and the sleeves up to the shoulder shaping. Since this sweater is worked in an all over lace pattern, shaping is a bit of a challenge. I left off the selvedge stitches and worked the increases and decreases into the lace pattern as I could. It’s always a bit tricky though. 

Working the pattern in the round sped up the knitting and decreased by 2/3 the amount of sewing up. This was a pretty fast knit and I enjoyed it throughout the knitting and finishing. 

The edging and buttonholes in the neck placket is crochet. It’s been so long since I picked up a crochet hook that I had to watch YouTube videos to remember how to single crochet, but once I found a good video it all came back to me. The sweater is pretty and feminine. I especially like the bell shaped sleeves. 


Details

Pattern: Oriel Lace Blouse, Interweave Knits, Summer 2007

Yarn: Cascade Venezia (I used just under 4 skeins)

Needles: sizes 3, 5, 6 and 7

Mods: working the sweater as much in the round as possible. 

The Murano Scarf

I modified this pattern pretty heavily. The pattern calls for size 0000 needles and lace weight yarn. I don’t own needles that size and I knew I wanted to use leftover Noro Silk Garden paired with a neutral colored yarn. I decided to use size 4 needles because they worked with the yarn I chose (the Noro paired with an off white skein of Cascade 220 superwash.) changing the needle size and yarn this significantly also required that I change the number of stitches I cast on. I figured out that the pattern was worked in multiples of 10, plus the selvedge stitches, so I cast on 55 stitches. The first section of the pattern is a ruffle, then the main part of the scarf is a slip stitch pattern. Once I got to the slip stitch portion I was able to easily memorize the 8  row repeat, which made the project one of my portable projects. I worked on it a little at home, but most of the knitting happened away from home while I waited. 

One of the things that always surprises me is how much a of a commitment scarves are. I like mine long. I usually shoot for them to be about as long as I am tall– 60″. That always takes more time than I think it should. When the scarf was almost as long as I was tall, I started the second ruffle. That was easily finished. I’m pleased with the scarf. I like the color changes in the 2 leftover skeins of Noro and I think it pits well with the white. I wouldn’t mind making the pattern again with a different color combination, or even on smaller needles. 


Project Details:

Pattern: Murano Scarf, from the Winter 2008 Interweave Knits

Needles: size 4, straight

Yarn: leftover skeins of Noro Silk Garden and Cascade 220 in white

Modifications: bigger needles, bigger yarn, less stitches

The One Way Tee

I’ve been eyeing this pattern in the cover of the Spring 2013 issue of Interweave Knits ever since it arrived in my mailbox. It’s the perfect type of springy pullover that I love to layer with on chilly, but not too cold, days. The pattern is pretty but simple. The lace detail that runs up the middle and back of the body of the tee and decorates the saddle shoulders breaks up the monotony of the otherwise plain tee. 

I had no trouble with this pattern at all. It’s well written. I memorized the lace pattern quickly, making the knitting easy and relatively mindless. I modified the pattern to work the body in the round to the armholes. Then I divided the front and back and worked them separately. 



This is the first time I’ve knit a sweater that is made with saddle shoulders. It wasn’t any different than working a set in sleeve though and I really like the effect of the lace panel on the finished tee. This was a really straight forward project and I think it’s going to be perfect for layering in the spring and fall, and pretty in the summer with a camisole underneath. 


The bottom edges of the body and sleeves are worked in garter stitch. However, there is no finishing edge on the neckline so it rolls just a tiny bit. This is my only complaint about the design. 

Details:

Pattern: One Way Tee from Spring 2013 issue of Interweave Knits

Needles: size 4 circular

Yarn: Cascade Ultra Pima in Turquoise. I used just about 3 skeins

Mods: I knit the body in the round until it was time to shape the armholes. 

The Trick to Finishing

Sometimes I think the sewing up and finishing of a garment is the hardest part.   I have knit more than 10 sweaters now (10 being the number of sweaters I made before I started to consistently get the fit and style of the sweater right) and sewing in a set in sleeve is often a mental challenge. The problem with sleeves is that they are not uniform. There are bound off edges and side edges. Sleeves are curved so sometimes you are sewing a side edge to a bound off edge. 


And sometimes you are sewing side edges to side edges. 


1. Side edge to side edge in stockinette 

When sewing side edge to side edge I use mattress stitch. I pick up the piece of yarn that lays in between and underneath the two legs of a knit stitch and  run my needle underneath it, and then do the same to the corresponding stitch on the sleeve that I’m sewing into the armhole.

2. Side edge to bound off edge 


When sewing a side edge to a bound off edge, like when I sewed in the saddle shoulder tab on to the top of the One Way Tee, I use mattress stitch in the side edge. On the bound off edge I run my needle underneath the two legs of the knit stitch and I only pull tight enough so that the fabric doesn’t pucker. Some of the sewing yarn will still be visible. 

3. Side edge to side edge in garter stitch 

For garter stitch edges I find the purl underbumps. The underbumps are the purl bumps shaped like a frown instead of a smile. I thread my needle under one, and then find a corresponding underbump on the sleeve side and thread my needle under that stitch too, then pull tight. 

4. Easing

I almost always have some portion of the sleeve and the armhole that need to be sewn together that aren’t the same length. After pinning the sleeve into the armhole I assess carefully. On the side that is longer, I sew two stitches to one on the other side of the garment until the length becomes even. This takes some patience. Usually I sew a few stitches together, then reassess. Then sew a few more and reassess. It is slow but I have found that any difference in length can be masked this way. The important thing is to even out any difference in length all along the seam. If you wait until you get all the way around the armhole and you have a significant difference in length in the sleeve or armhole side, and then try to sew the extra fabric in, the sleeve will be crooked on the sweater and seriously uncomfortable. When pinning the sleeve in make sure that the top of the sleeve is pinned to the top of the armhole and the bottom is pinned to the bottom of the armhole. Then add a pin or two along the sides of the armhole so that you have a good guide when you are sewing the sleeve in. 

The Problem With Hats

I’ve made lots of hats over the years. Cabled hats. Colorwork hats. Hats so tight they made my forehead hurt. Hats so big they flop over my eyes. I started one hat that I could have worn as a skirt. I frogged that one. The problem I always have with hats is sizing. To make a good beanie you really need to swatch, then stretch the swatch when you measure it. Not too much stretch and not too little. It’s a delicate process that I often screw up. 

A few weeks ago Owen asked for a hat. A blue hat. This is a kid who doesn’t often request hand knits so when he asked for something I was excited. Pleased. And I had the blue yarn already– leftovers from the Dinosaur hoodie I made him last year. But I didn’t want this hat to be too big or too small. So I measured and searched and measured again. Finally, I cast on. 

At first I thought it might be too big. Then maybe too small. But as I knit I found it was just the right size. 

Seed Stitch Rib Hat

Yarn: Brown Sheep Company Nature Spun Worsted, I used 39 grams of yarn for this hat

Needles: size 7 cable needles, I used the magic loop method

Size: hat will fit heads probably between 16-22″ circumference, depth is 8″

Gauge: 14 stitches= 3.5″, stretched, in the round in seed stitch rib. Rows: 7 rows per inch

Seed stitch rib: 

Round 1: k 3, purl 1

Roound 2: knit

Pattern:

Cast on 80 stitches. Work knit one, purl one rib for 10 rows. 

Knit one round

Work rounds 1 and 2 of seed stitch rib until hat measures 6″ from cast on, ending with round 1.

Next round: knit 6, k2tog around

Next round: knit

Decrease round: k to 2 stitches before decrease, k2tog, around

Repeat decrease round every other row until there are 5 stitches remaining. Break yarn and pull through remaining stitches. Weave in ends and block.

Always Check the Project Notes Before Choosing a Pattern

This is what happens when I try to make things easy. In the end I always work harder than if I had put in the preparatory work. 


When I cast on this pair of mittens (Dwarven Mittens) I decided to not swatch. That actually went ok. I also decided to not look at the pattern very closely before printing it out. This was a problem. Specifically, the cable chart doesn’t tell you where the cable sections start and end. When I got to the cable portion I had to sit down, study the cable chart, study the picture of the mittens themselves and figure out where each cable began and ended. 


I figured it out but I think if I were a new knitter or even a newish knitter I would have given up in frustration. 

Once I figured out the cable pattern the knitting went pretty smoothly until it came time to decrease. I did something that I often do– I kept on knitting even though it was obvious that the mittens were working up to be too long. In the end I had a pair of mittens that would have fit a gorilla, and the recipient of this pair of mittens is not in possession of a pair of gorilla hands. So I ripped back about two inches.

Once I made the commitment to tip back and got all of the stitches into the needles the rest of the knitting went smoothly. I completely winged the decreases at the top because I didn’t like the way that the pattern instructs you to finish the mittens– with kitchener stitch. I thought it looked too boxy. Less elegant. I prefer it when mittens come to a point so I decreased until there were 8 stitches left, then cut the yarn ad pulled the thread through the remaining stitches. 

After my disappointing experience with the pattern I went toRavelry and read other people’s project notes and found that almost everyone who knit this pattern had issues with it. 

Details:

Pattern: Dwarven Mittens

Yarn: Lettlopi — I used just over one skein for this project

Needles: size 5 and size 7

The Glasgow Sweater

It seems like this sweater flew off my needles. Seriously. This was quite possibly the easiest, least complicated sweater I have ever knit. It’s a raglan knit from the bottom up. You knit the body up to the point where the sleeves need to be attached, then you knit the sleeves, join them to the body, and knit up from there. The only modification I made was knitting the sleeves in the round, two at a time, while magic looping. I did that because knitting sleeves one at a time makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a knitting needle, especially if the two sleeves then turn out to be two different lengths. And yes, that has happened to me more than once. At least when I make a mistake while knitting two at a time, it’s generally the same mistake in the same place. 


The cable pattern was simple and easy to memorize. I did use a lot of stitch markers to mark my place in the pattern though. That made it much easier to remember where the cable sections began ended. 


And I love this yarn. It’s Malabrigo Twist in Manzanilla Olive. It’s soft. It gives great stitch definition. And the color is a beautiful semi-solid. The yarn practically glows in the light. 


Knitting this sweater made me really want to knit another sweater, immediately. 

Details: 

Pattern: Glasgow Sweater from Interweave Knits, Winter 2016

Yarn: Malabrigo Twist, in Manzanilla Olive

Size: I made the smallest size, knit the pattern almost exactly as written, and used just under 7 skeins

Needles: size 9 and 10

Ruffles

I’ve knit ruffles. And bobbles. And worked picot edgings. But I’ve never really fallen in love with them. Until now. 


Maybe it’s the yarn– leftover Drops Alpaca (the white) and Alpaca with a Twist Baby Twist (the orange). Both soft as butter with a subtle halo. Or it could be the weight and glint of the glass beads. Or the drape of the piece. Whatever it is I am completely enchanted by these cuffs. The pattern is Mrs. Beeton. I’ve known about this pattern since it first came out in, but never could find a person to knit them for. They seemed too fussy. Too impractical. Too purely decorative. 
And then I found myself wracking my brain trying to find a gift for my good friend Lynn and I realized that these were perfect for her. Lynn is the kind of person that Dresses. If choosing between looking good and being comfortable, looking good wins each time. She comes from a generation that didn’t wear jeans. Women didn’t wear pants. She loves to dress well and she is a master at it. I knew she would like and appreciate these cuffs. I knew she would actually wear them. And I knew that I had the yarn for them in my stash. 

As I set out to knit them I was worried that the pattern might be hopelessly fiddly. And it is fiddly. But in a completely worth it type of way. Not a fling the project across the room type of way. 

Getting started was the hardest part. The pattern calls for size 11 seed beads on the bottom bell cuff to be threaded on fingering weight yarn. This was impossible. I could not find a beading needle that was small enough to pass through the head but with a large enough eye to thread the yarn through. After trying 4 or 5 different combinations and methods I gave up and threaded the size 8 beads on instead. Once worked the cast in and started on the ruffle I was surprised at how easy the pattern was. This pattern provides a lot of interest for a relatively small effort– it’s not hard, it doesn’t take very much yarn and the hardest part is getting started. 

The Olla Mittens

These were a last minute “I want to make something for Lori but what will I make her, oh yeah, I have that purple Cascade 128 and I could make mittens and, oh look! Those are pretty!” Type of project. I decided that I would make this gift easy by just knitting to the pattern and not worrying about sizing or modifying. I didn’t even knit a gauge swatch. I knit all the way through the first mitten. 

Then I knit the second. And that’s where I ran into two problems: one, I ran out of yarn. I knew that I would probably run out so I had a plan in mind, and two, I had knit the two mittens differently. I had screwed up on one or both. When I scrutinized both mittens I can to the conclusion that I had knit them both wrong, in different way. 


So I unraveled both down to the third row and reknit them. It was, at that point that I realized that I hadn’t originally knit the first mitten wrong. When I reknit both mittens I accidentally skipped the first 6 rounds of the cuff. But, by that time I did not have the heart to frog the mittens. In addition they were both now knit the same way and by making the cuffs shorter, my yarn went farther. So, I left them. 

The rest of the knitting went pretty smoothly. The pattern is very well written. It’s clear and even gives you clear guidelines on where to place the embroidery. And they really are lovely. 
Project Details:

Yarn: Cascade 128, Italian plum, about 70 yards that were leftover from my Bryan Mawr skirt (ravelry id: tiltedwhirled); about 120 yards of Cascade 220 Quattro that I have had in my stash for years

Needles: size 9 dpn’s 

Pattern: Olla Mittens from knitty.com, medium 


One last note: I am not sure if the designer intended for me to work each leaf motif separately or to use the same length of yarn for one whole cuff. If she intended the latter, then I used about 4 times as much yarn for the embroidery section as the pattern indicates. Either way, I found that I had much fewer ends to weave in by measuring out enough yarn for 2 embroidery sections at once, rather than working each section separately. When I tried to measure out enough yarn for 3 sections it was too long and too unwieldy to work with.

Unraveling as a Meditation

I have made many, many, knitting mistakes over the years. Purled where I should have knit. Sewed something in or on crooked. Made things too long, too short, too small and too big. I’ve learned that is almost always better to fix mistakes, no matter how frustrating. I am, right now, sitting here writing this blog post while wearing a sweater I knit several years ago. I made it too short and I sewed the sleeves in slightly crooked. I have always regretted not fixing these defects– and it’s way too late to do it now. So I have a sweater, made of really beautiful yarn, that I hardly ever wear. If you want to see it you can go to Ravelry and look at the Greek pullover in my projects page (tiltedwhirled is my ravelry id.) 


Most recently I realized that when I sewed on the spikes for Owen’s mittens I gave him two left handed mittens. Sewing the spikes on correctly wasn’t hard and it only took me about 15 minutes but it still required some menta effort to start. To unsew. To pick out my stitches and start over again.

Making mistakes also means that I have figured out many ways to fix them, without tinking back or frogging. If I knit the wrong color in stranded colorwork I can usually ladder down to the stitch that was knit in the wrong color and pull up a stitch in the right color using yarn that was stranded behind on that row, then ladder back up. This works best when I am only a row ahead of where I made the mistake. For mistakes in lace work, laddering down and reknitting works too. You can also easily add a missed yarn over on the row above. 

But sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, dig deep, and frog. I did this three times when I was making my Ivy League Vest. First, I screwed up the corrugated rubbing and had to start over. Then I knit most of it, put it down for about a year, and when I came back to it, I had shrunk a couple of sizes so frogged back down to yarn and started over again. The third time I chose the right size and I really had the corrugated ribbing technique figured out by that point. I reknit the sweater and I am so glad that I did. I wear that vest several times a month through the winter. All of that work paid off in the form of a garment that I love wearing. I remember that whenever I am tempted to not fix a mistake. I remember that I would much rather put in the work to make the knitting right then regret not doing it for years afterward. 

Knitting reminds me regularly that I am imperfect. I make mistakes. Usually when I am not paying attention to what I’m doing. Not being mindful. That is how the spikes on Owen’s mittens were sewn on the wrong side. When I am mindful of what I am doing– giving each task it’s proper allotment of concentration– mistakes are certainly less. And when they still appear sometimes you just have to be strong enough to start over again.