Category Archives: sweater

my sister’s sweater

When my mom let me pick out the licorice twist yarn to make a sweater, she let my sister pick out yarn too. My sister picked turquoise and my mom never even started a sweater for her after the debacle with my sweater. She didn’t even wind all the yarn into balls which was fortunate because some of it still had labels.

2 skeins were in tight balls so I decided to unwind the balls into skeins and wash the whole lot – I don’t want my sister’s sweater to be oddly misshapen when the yarn relaxes to its natural state 😉 The bonus is that I might have gotten some of the lanolin and vegetable matter out of the yarn – it looked softer after the bath.

First, I filled my sink with warm water and a couple squeezes of dish soap – I didn’t want to bother rinsing lots of soap out but I also wanted it clean.

Second, I waited for it to soak while patiently eating ice cream.

Third, I realized the water was turquoise so I drained the water and added a ‘glug’ of vinegar (handily I have a gallon under my kitchen sink) and some more warm water being careful to add the water in the corner of the sink opposite to where I was cradling the precious yarn. (Don’t want any fulling/felting!). I let it soak some more.

Fourth, I rinsed the yarn a few times, careful to keep the water warmish.

Fifth, I squeezed the excess water from the skeins by hand, then rolled in a towel. I actually twisted my skeins up to get more water out – this is a bulky worsted weight yarn, it is strong enough for a bit of abuse.

Sixth, I hung the skeins to dry on my drying rack in the bathtub. Wonder when it will be dry since we turned the heat off in that bathroom and it’s normally 5 degrees colder than the rest of our house (which is about 60 at night).

So pretty! Now is there any hope of me finishing this by Christmas? I also have 35 grams (of 50) of a laceweight scarf, simple mittens, and a sockweight scarf. Every year I’m freaking out at Christmas and give at least one present on the needles. This year I started early – my mom’s getting a scarf I finished last February. Problem is, I seem to have taken on more complicated projects since I started so early. I’ve been making the laceweight scarf since September.

Anyone else bit of more than can be comfortably chewed regarding holiday gifts? I hope it’s not just me 😉

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licorice twist sweater

I finished the shrug! (click on the link for some of the background of the yarn and how I got started with the pattern.) It’s more like a sweater now because it is actually long enough to reach my waist and I love it! I can’t believe how closely the finished product matches my sketches and imaginings of how I wanted it to end up. The first two drawings are ones I made during a meeting at work, the 3rd is the schematic I used to design the pattern and make the sweater.

I actually finished the sweater nearly two weeks ago, uploaded the pictures last week, and found my sketches tonight….yay for being organized – they were unexpectedly in the very bag I’d used for this project and right where I’d left them under a gigantic pile of laundry.


yarn: 1) I started with 497 grams of the licorice twist (I made up this name – I have no idea what the original colorway was called) from Briggs and Little Woolen Mills and have 192 grams left. 2) I used an entire skein of Lamb’s Pride Worsted which is 113 grams and 173 meters for the black border. Funnily enough, while I have quite a bit of the licorice twist left, I had about a yard of the black left when I cast of the ~450 stitch main border….I was weighing the skein every row to figure out how wide I’d be able to make the border.

needles: Addi Turbo size 10 (6mm) 32″ and some size 10 (6mm) 8″ dpns. It was quite interesting to make the approximately 60″ border on 32″ needles. I scrunched all the stitches together and did some cursing as I lifted the entire sweater around and around and slid the stitches down the right side and up the left side. I did acquire some cheap size 10 plastic needles about halfway through but they were also 32″ so each row, I alternated which needles I was using to make at least half the stitches easier to knit.

button: I got the button at the Fingerlakes fiber festival and it is perfect for the sweater. I made the button hole in the border by casting off 2 stitches and casting them on the next row. It stretched out a lot until I whip stitched around the hole with the same yarn to strengthen it.

Things I learned making this sweater:

1) the raglan construction doesn’t look so nice with a different color border knitted on – maybe I can make a yoke next time so it doesn’t look so square where the black border is knitted into the raglans.

2) When I think I’m going to run out of yarn and buy more, I will not actually run out of yarn.

3) The power of the scale is awesome – for the border I was using about 6 grams of yarn per plain round about about 7 per cabled round. When I had 45 grams left, I figured I could knit 6 more rows and still have enough for the bind off. It actually worked. The bind off used almost two rows worth of yarn which I will certainly keep in mind next time.

4) I never used to understand why anyone would make pieces of a garment flat, then sew them together – it seemed like an extra step and kinda confused me. When I look at a sleeve knitted flat, it doesn’t look like it will go on my arm – when I’m knitting a sleeve in the round, I can try it on as I go. When I’m knitting seamless, I have almost no ends to weave in, and fewer stitches to pick up since I also used figure 8 cast-ons everywhere. Somehow, I derive extra pleasure from not having any seams in the garment. I began to understand why someone might knit a garment flat when I was working on the sleeves – every 3 or 4 rounds, I’d have to pick the whole sweater up and untwist it. It was still nice not having to pin the sleeve in place and sew it to the shoulder wondering if I was doing it right or if I’d have to try again and again…

5) this is the worst – I’m ALLERGIC to mohair. I had no idea. It didn’t bother me when I swatched, it didn’t bother me when I was carrying the mohair around to look at it, it didn’t bother me when I knit the cuffs. It began to bother me about halfway through the border (the same time I was panicking about running out of yarn and obsessively weighing the remaining skein). I actually had to stop knitting, wash my hands, wash my face, take out my contacts, and swallow some claritin. Then I finished knitting after I took a walk. I wore it to work the next day because it was almost cold and I was excited about my new sweater. I had to take it off on 3 or 4 separate occasions because my eyes were too itchy. I’ve washed it, but I think I’m still allergic – either my eyes are itching thinking about it, or they’re itching because I moved it to make room for clean laundry a little bit ago.

I can’t quite face re-knitting the border just yet, I like it too much to give it away to someone my size with no mohair allergy, and I don’t really see the point of owning a sweater that lives unworn in my attic.

I want to destroy the 15% mohair in the border. I love the border. It’s perfect. I can’t believe I figured out the right number of stitches to pick up for each separate section of the sweater, I can’t believe I counted to 450, and I can’t believe my border lies flat on the first try. Maybe when it gets really cold, I can take a lot of claritin, avoid touching my eyes, and wear it anyway.

The shrug that morphed into a sweater was in fact a success. I’m planning to make one for my sister – she’s smaller than me so I think I can get the entire sweater and border from her 4 skeins of Briggs and Little wool.

I’ve never really written a pattern before – I take notes for myself to make something again later but that’s about it. I’m pretty sure my notes wouldn’t make sense to anyone but me and of course, they’re only in my size. However, if enough (more than 10) people are interested in a seamless sweater/shrug and leave a comment telling me so, I’d consider doing some math and writing it up for a few sizes.

happy knitting!

vintage licorice twist shrug

A few days ago, I showed the vintage yarn my mom helped me choose when I was five. I have since found my sister’s equivalent yarn with some of the tags attached! The yarn is made by Briggs and Little Woolen Mills and is a 2 ply, no 2/8. I’m not entirely sure what the last bit means but each skein is 113 grams and I have the bits and pieces of 4 of them.

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At least, there were once 4 skeins and I think I have all the pieces. My mom actually started the sweater when I was eight (3 years after we got the yarn and pattern) but she forgot a buttonhole partway up the 2nd front, couldn’t face ripping it, and put it away. It was very away since I suddenly grew. I tried to make a generic pullover in high school, worked on it for a few months, and gave it up. It’s just as well since I was making a pattern with serious positive ease and never would have had enough yarn for a vest let alone a sweater with sleeves.

I’ve been looking for the right project for this yarn since I started knitting again. First I thought a hat since I make a lot of hats but it’s very thick and very scratchy yarn so I nixed that idea and kept thinking. Then I thought I could make a felted bag but I’ve never felted nor fulled anything and this yarn was always meant for a garment. Finally, I was inspired by all the shrugs and boleros I saw online including the beautiful Briar Rose by Ysolda and I figured it would be enough yarn for a shrug.

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I didn’t use any of the available patterns because my gauge was slightly looser (I really hated this yarn when I tried to use smaller needles) on size 10 (6 mm) needles and I wanted something that met in the middle like a cardigan. I used Barbara G. Walker’s Knitting from the Top to learn about raglan construction – the best part was finding out there is a ratio of sleeve stitches to back stitches. It makes perfect sense that when knitting from the neck down, each arm/shoulder section will have 1/3 the number of stitches as the back or front but I’m not sure I would have figured that out on my own. Let’s just say it helped immensely to have a good reference book when I wanted to pull my hair out doing math. I have an engineering degree but between making measurements of my body and never having quite all the numbers I needed and not knowing exactly how I could shape the garment for the fit I wanted, it was enough to make me wish for some easy integrals. Maybe I should have taken more geometry! I don’t believe I ever learned about 3-D geometry, just flat things which might be why I had a hard time converting measurements of my body into garment measurements. I’ve finished the sleeves including the edging in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted which I picked up thinking I was certainly going to run out of yarn (now I might make it…especially since I already bought extra).

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I did a really simple cable pattern on the cuffs to spice it up a bit and because cables show up really well in the Lamb’s Pride. It was a K4, P2 ribbing, then in the K4 section, I crossed 2 stitches in the front every 4th round. I love how it looks and I even managed to calculate the correct number of stitches for the Lamb’s Pride since it knits up to a slightly looser gauge.

I wanted to finish it by this weekend but I’m going away and it’s way too hot in Blacksburg VA to bring it with me so I might have to start some socks or a lace scarf to work on there.

cabled sweater – part 2

Swatching has commenced on my cabled Jaeger Trinity sweater. The cotton/silk blend is super soft but a little bit irregular – it took a few rows to get even stitches and I might even go down a needle size to get gauge and improve the fabric – I’m a bit worried about the finished sweater stretching out of shape. Are there any tricks to knitting well-fitting garments from plant fibers? I think plant fiber tricks would work well with the cotton/silk blend also.

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I do love the cables – I’ve been using the ‘sans cable needle’ method I learned from Grumperina’s tutorial. I found a picture of the first cabling I ever did – I was in college, my entire dorm was making garter stitch scarves, and I picked out the most complicated cable I could find in my sister’s Reader’s Digest book and commenced knitting my ‘scarf’. Like with many things I’d started knitting, I quickly realized the edges were going to roll, I didn’t have enough yarn to finish, and I was bored especially since I was making it just to counteract the vast quantities of garter stitch in my dorm. So I folded it up into a bag, crocheted it all together, and never got around to lining it – the fabric is so floppy I’d really like the security of a zipper.

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The color is truer in the left picture of the entire bag but I wanted to show the cable detail as well. I remember manipulating those stitches with a slippery dpn I called ‘cable needle’. Those were the days before I bought knitting needles and vast quantities of yarn – I would just raid my mother’s single ziplock bag of knitting supplies and pick from the 1 or 2 available 14″ straight needles and her 1 set of dpns. I think she must have bought the needles around the same time she bought yarn to make me a sweater – I’m just finally using that yarn now to make the ‘vintage licorice twist shrug’. I was going to make a sweater but as you might imagine, I’m a bit larger now than when I was five and there just isn’t that much yarn since it’s a heavy worsted weight.

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new jaeger trinity sweater

I think it’s happening again, I think I’m falling in love with a sweater pattern. I’m not sure how making a sweater for myself will integrate with my holiday knitting plans but maybe I’ll knit quickly. Making my first sweater took 12 months and I was monogamous with knitting projects then. That sweater was really my re-entry into knitting and reminded me how hooked I was on fiber arts. After the sweater I made some socks and hats and scarves because the thought of taking another year to make a single item seemed wasteful. I think I knit more quickly now 🙂

It started when I looked through my slim pile of knitting magazines and found the Jaeger handknit booklet (JB15) with designs by Martin Storey that I used to make my first sweater. Then I read that Jaeger yarns were being discontinued and were therefore 1) probably on sale and 2) not going to be around later. I thought that for my second sweater, it might be nice to use the pattern recommended yarn and gauge. I found the perfect sweater – it’s a pullover so gaping at the button band won’t be a problem, and it has beautifully intricate cables that are probably a bit advanced for me but I look forward to the challenge – I’m going to try and skip the cable needle on this one.

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I just adore the celtic knot appearance of the cables next to the simple stockinette of the rest of the sweater.

I eventually found yarn on sale online and bought an entire 10 x 50gram pack which should be enough for my pullover and a tank – too bad I’m not making a cardigan twinset 😉 I’ve seen a few complaints about the Jaeger Trinity yarn stretching out with wear and not shrinking back to it’s original shape. It’s 40% silk, 35% cotton, and 25% polyamide. I think I might make a large gauge swatch – maybe to practice the cable pattern and wash it a few times before measuring. My guess is that I should make the sweater with slight negative ease (5-10%?) so that when it stretches it isn’t too large.

I bought the ‘water’ colorway – it’s a pale grey with a slight hint of blue. I think the cables will show up nicely. I didn’t want to make a white cable sweater because when I wear white, it’s a magnet for tomato and chocolate stains. The pattern is called “Salt Lake” and I think I might modify it to knit in the round. I don’t mind seaming but I don’t know why I’d make two separate pieces for the back and front when I could make it seamless on my 26″ circular needles and try it on as I go. Then I won’t have as much finishing work either! I could even make the sleeves on double points or 16″ circulars although I think I only have 6″ double points in the correct size and that might be more of a challenge than avoiding a seam is worth.

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The yarn almost feels like a suede to me but my fingers are rough from mountain biking and gardening and dishes. Has anyone knit with this Jaeger Trinity before – how does it hold up?

everyone loves koigu

My very first sweater ever is made of koigu painter’s palette premium merino p118. I had no idea how popular koigu was when I was at the yarn shop picking out my college graduation present. All I knew was I loved the colors and it was wicked soft (I still can’t believe I got 9 skeins, a Jaeger pattern book, and needles as a present). It seems that koigu has some sort of cult following.
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Watching my blog stats has become rather addictive. I was so excited the first day someone found me through a search engine! I don’t have a complete list of searches because wordpress seems to delete the old ones but I’ve noticed that some version of ‘koigu painter’s palette premium merino p118’ is one of the more popular searches leading here. This is rather sad because I have an artsy (in my delusions) but unhelpful picture of me wearing the sweater. It fails to show the inner beauty of the yarn which is mostly because I’m embarassed to say the knit and purl stitches look different. Very different. I’m still working on figuring out what ‘twisted’ stitches are but if I had to take a guess, I’d say that every other row is ‘twisted’ and every other row isn’t.
Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino Color P118
I’m pretty sure that my confusion about ‘twisted’ stitches results from the fact that after finishing the sweater I started knitting continental which given my crochet background made so much more sense. Somehow knitting continental, all my knit and purl stitches look identical, sort of like a tiny ‘v’ or ‘x’. If I’m guessing right, untwisted stitches are the ones that look more like a ‘u’.

Here is the pocket of my sweater (it does wonders to enhance my figure but isn’t at all useful to store things)
Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino Color P118
And here is the button band. These are buttons I yoinked from another project (the licorice twist sweater) – my mom got them when I was little (like pigtail braids and elementary school little) and they’re so pretty.
Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino Color P118

I hope this helps all you koigu lovers out there. When I finish grad school and am rich, I may make another sweater of koigu sock yarn. Until then, I have my one and only hand-knit sweater.