Since getting a glimpse of Alice of Backyard Fiberworks’ North Cascades Night colorway for Knitting Our National Parks, I’ve been obsessively combing Ravelry for the perfect projects. The fact that it’s a sportweight yarn means it works for a variety of patterns, from one-skein hats and mitts to pullovers and cardigans that don’t feel too endless.
I’ve found some ideas from a variety of designers, including those who post to Indie Untangled. Below is just a small list of possibilities. You can also check out the ever-growing bundle I’ve created on Ravelry.
Pleasant Trip by Laura Aylor: 3 skeins
Little Black Shawl by Laura Aylor: 2 skeins
Marshwood by Lara Smoot: 3 skeins
French Cancan by Mademoiselle C: 2 skeins
Vinegar Hill by Kirsten Kapur: 2-3 skeins
Sport Aureed by Meiju K-P: 4-8 skeins
Warszawa Soft by Meiju K-P: 5-7 skeins
Grisalia by Meiju K-P: 3-6 skeins
Celia by Mary Annarella: 3-6 skeins
Shifting by Justyna Lorkowska: 4-6 skeins
Rieth by MK Nance
Backflip Mitts by Melanie Berg
Fathom by Veera Välimäki
Portlander Mitts by Shellie Anderson
Have you found some other great ideas? Please share in the comments!
Those of you who have seen me in person know that I’m a little on the short side — 4’9″ to be exact. I barely reach Stephen West’s shoulders. So, when I heard about Teresa Gregorio’s Knit Petite Project, I knew I had to reach out.
Teresa is a designer under the name Canary Knits, who has published patterns for Knit Picks as well as in Knitscene, so she knows a thing or two about construction. Her project has started a fascinating conversation about petite sizing, common issues that petite knitters run into and altering patterns to get the best fit.
I chatted with Teresa about what she’s learned and what her goals are for the project.
What inspired the Knit Petite Project?
I started this project because, being petite myself, I’ve found there’s a lack of clear, centralized resources and discussion about the petite person and knitwear.
I love that in recent years the knitting community has opened up conversations about different sized individuals in a body-positive manner. We have a number of great resources that talk quite specifically about, for example, the plus sized woman’s body and options she has for knitwear from aesthetic choices to more inclusive size ranges.
A likewise petite-specific conversation about height and vertical measurements can create a community that knitters can go to and learn more about fit. I think it’s a conversation worth having, and that’s what I’d love for the #KnitPetiteProject.
What do you hope to achieve with the project?
I want us all to take the power into our own hands to shape our clothes to suit our tastes. We’re all makers, and that puts us in a fantastic position to achieve the modified fit we want.
To do that, I thought it would be great to have a thorough, in-depth discussion about sizing and its history, how we do or do not accept the sizes available to us, how petite people are catered to, what we want to change and how we can change it.
Ultimately, I think the most practical application of the Project is a community built around supporting each other through suggestions, conversations, a thorough online resource, and (hopefully!) a KAL later on this year.
If you feel you fit into the petite knitter category, join us! And please remember, for the #KnitPetiteProject, petite is a vertical concern and includes women of all ages, body shapes, and weights.
What have you learned so far and what has surprised you?
There has been SO much I’ve learned already! I’ve been quite careful in selecting resources, and have been steeped in scholarly papers over the last few months regarding sizing in clothing design. For example, the book Sizing in Clothing: Developing Effective Sizing Systems For Ready-To-Wear Clothing is filled with information from the history of “standardized” sizing (which isn’t that old of a history!) to specifics on grading and serving modern populations through computer-aided design software and 3D scanners that can produce data for a more representative, accurate fit.
I’ve also learned so much from discussions with other knitters about sizing; there’s a lively thread on Ravelry that in part inspired me to start a Ravelry group specifically for the #KnitPetiteProject. Hearing from others who have such deep expertise and first-hand experience has been very rich and rewarding! I appreciate their generous sharing.
How tall are you and how has that affected your sweater knitting
I’m 5’1”, and have been since I was 10 years old. I actually hadn’t given a lot of thought to my height (outside of those flares I used to wear in high school ALWAYS dragging on the ground and getting ripped up). I began considering fit a number of years ago when I started to design knitwear and sew garments for myself.
Seeing something I knit in “my size” on a person of the “same size” was VERY illuminating. My most recent post (May 2) for the #KnitPetiteProject gives a number of examples of how vertical measurements can affect the fit of a knit sweater.
For example, yoked sweaters extend a bit too far down my upper torso. This is a great example of how my shorter vertical measurements don’t line up with what the sweater assumes I’m measured, with results that I’m not happy with and are a bit more complex to alter than simply making it shorter.
I notice you reference Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit software. Have you used it? What do you think? (I’ve done a few Custom Fit sweaters and one “mashup” with Amy Christoffers’ Acer, and I have been very happy with all of them, but mashups can be tricky when using a particular design. A friend of mine Custom Fit Thea Coleman’s Ommegang, but she has a huge list of notes.)
I haven’t yet used Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit, but I love what I’ve seen of it and her Craftsy class on the topic. She’s thorough and body-positive, which is very important to me.
What I would really love is, if people are keen, we can hold a #KnitPetiteProject KAL later on this year. In it, we can each pick a sweater and work with each other through conversation and sharing online to consider what we would like to modify, and how we could achieve what we want. Amy Herzog’s Custom Fit software is perfect for this! And I’m very happy to hear you’re pleased with the results you’ve had from it.
What do you think knitwear designers can do better to accommodate a range of sizes? As a designer yourself, how is this a challenge?
Knitwear designers need size charts, and any size chart functions by averaging and assuming a body shape. So that’s a big challenge for designers. Creating a petite sizing chart would require thorough anthropometic data collection, which is a huge undertaking. I’ve been able to find size charts for petite women (up to a bust size of about 42”), but not beyond that. One size group that I’ve had a heck of a time locating detailed charts for is petite plus women.
A suggestion that’s come up during #KnitPetiteProject discussions is for designers to add, when appropriate, suggested lengthen/shorten notes within the pattern. Sort of like a sewing pattern would.
That said, row gauge and stitch gauge are tied to each other and sometimes it’s quite complicated to separate out, depending on the design elements and construction involved in the pattern.
What is crucial for knitters to know about fit and modifying patterns?
First, there’s NOTHING wrong with your body. Any fitting issues are simply a result of the fact that the shape of human bodies is very complex, and we are all going to differ from a sizing chart in one way or another.
And second, I want to encourage people to feel empowered to modify modify modify for THEIR own tastes, preferences, and body. This can be daunting, because sometimes I think it may be difficult to know why you dislike the fit of something, or why it’s fitting you in a displeasing way. It’s YOUR knitting, so change what you want, whenever you want to!
My hope is that the #KnitPetiteProject will help with this, as a resource and community filled with talented, kind, thoughtful, supportive, and body-positive individuals.
I have been waiting until the perfect time to put a small batch of the exclusive Indie self-striping colorway from Michelle at Berry Colorful Yarnings up for sale, so here it is in honor of Indie Untangled’s third birthday! Through April 30 you can get Indie, along with yarn from The Woolen Rabbit, for 10% off with the code IU3.
Kate and the crew at Dragonfly Fibers has released two new bases that are perfect for warm-weather knitting. Dharma, pictured above, is a light fingering weight made of 50% yak and 50% silk. Just as tempting is Selkie Sport, a soft but hearty combination of 70% BFL and 30% mulberry silk.
Melanie at Go Knit Yourself has updated her shop with popular colorways, including the speckled Fiona, pictured above.
Just in time for Mother’s Day, Laura of Fiber Dreams has released Helaine, a light fingering-weight cardigan named for Sir Lancelot’s mum. She happens to go by a few names, so Laura is running a sale on both Helaine and a companion cowl, Clarine.
Gaby of Galiana Creations, who is based in Pennsylvanie, is getting ready for this weekend’s Steel City Fiber Festival in Allentown. She’s prepared with six-skein mini sets, new silky yak yarn, plus lots of speckles and gradients. Because of course.
Lara Smoot’s latest design is Wind Song, a deceptively easy to knit lace shawl that is perfect for spring and summer.
I know I’m not the only one who had a hard time looking at Instagram last weekend, when it seemed like the whole knitting world was over in Scotland for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. But, I figured there was no such thing as too many festival pictures, I asked Bronwyn, AKA the designer Casapinka, to file a report for the Indie Untangled blog. Her post makes me even more determined to plan a trip across the pond next year!—Lisa
I was starving when I arrived in Edinburgh from Boston, after dropping my 10-year-old off with his grandparents in Dublin. I went into the local shop and found some nice, wholesome, Haggis-flavored chips (crisps) that I happily washed down with some Diet Coke. You laugh? You gag? They are really good and you should try them if you go to EYF!
The line outside The Corn Exhange (for those who didn’t pre-purchase tickets, ahem, note to self!) was long. At one point it started to rain and the nice people from EYF thanked us for waiting and handed out very cute tote bags. All the people with pre-printed tickets who zoomed right in didn’t get very cute tote bags so it was totally worth it. Also, the best conversations among strangers are started in yarn festival lines! I had an hour-long talk with an air traffic controller which made my year (I’m an aviation geek.)
When I got in, I made a beeline for Eden Cottage Yarns. The fibers are just so beautiful, with lots of subtle colors that aren’t the norm for me, but still call my name. I did some damage there, for sure, and had a nice conversation with Victoria, the owner. Everywhere you looked in this booth you almost died from Gorgeous Fiber Overwhelm! It got quite crowded as the day went on so if you go to EYF, get there early.
The wool watching at EYF was second to none. Shawls, fair isle coats, lots of Kate Davies jumpers (and the woman herself, of course) was rubbernecking at its best! When the booths got so crowded I couldn’t even go inside, I just sat on the floor, ate some lunch (the food is amazing!) and watched all of the wool finery go by.
Another booth I wanted to visit was the Loop London booth. I ran into the Spincycle Girls (Rachel and Kate) there and we had a chat. I then drooled over all of the hand sewn bags and the Lichen and Lace yarn which I really wanted to squish. I bought a couple of skeins (how could I not?) and they are waiting to become something special.
I was also just dying to see the La Bien Aimee booth. Who can’t love all of those candy- and pastille-colored yarns with their beautiful contrasts? I did, in fact, climb onto the table in my eagerness to get to the singles but no skeins of yarn were hurt in the process. I did a fair amount of damage here as well and plan to give some away in giveaways in my group. Really. I swear!
I think it’s important to note that in the UK and Ireland, a “fry up” is the only way to start one’s day. Even vegetarians can partake: minus the sausage, rashers, haggis, white pudding – well, there is toast, beans and mushrooms! This keeps you going through mad knitters poking you in the butt with their knitting needles as they vie for space in the Brooklyn Tweed line. I live for my morning fry up!
Since I’m on the subject of food, the snacks and meals at The Corn Exchange are great. This is called a Victorian Sandwich. Yes, you read that right. So, technically this could be lunch (a piece of it – I didn’t eat the whole thing, you guys.) So, come to shop for yarn but also come to eat and admire the scenery and make new friends from all over the world!
Fides and Gaby at Siidegarte have released a limited edition Valentine’s Day colorway that is only available through February 19. The rose-inspired color — blush pink, mixed with an almost lilac silver and a tiny bit of green — is available on three bases: the laceweight Siide-Füürneem, a blend of silk and Royal Alpaca; Siide-Fideel, a silk/Merino fingering weight; and Siide-Liind, a mix of fine silk and Merino, combined with SeaCell.
Speaking of love, Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has special Outlander Wedding kits available for preorder through Feb. 19. The kits, inspired by the love shared between Jamie and Claire, contain a skein of Snug light fingering in the Tartan colorway, a project bag by Debra of Addicted to Sock Knitting in special Outlander Wedding fabric designed by Julia and a matching notions tin.
Aside from collaborating with Casapinka on her latest shawl design, Gray Area, and getting ready for upcoming shows, including Stitches West, Sue of Invictus Yarns has created a special colorway for Sock Madness.
Lindsay of Knit Eco Chic’s latest design, Alternating Paths, is a cozy cabled sweater that will keep you beautifully toasty during these winter months. It’s worked seamlessly, with some room for customization.
Picking complementary colors is a no brainer with Bijou Basin Ranch’s latest Master Color Series.
Sound of Music fans, this new club from Go Knit Yourself is for you.
Wild Hair Studio’s latest shop update includes some Harry Pottery-themed goodies.
Considering the year we’ve had, most of the looks back at 2016 are not going to be likely to lift your spirits. My hope is that this roundup of Indie Untangled FOs will be the exception.
For my Year in Review, I’ve culled a list of several FOs using yarn and/or patterns from Indie Untangled dyers and designers — or both, in the case of the photo above of my Drops of Honey shawl. Designed by Janina Kallio for the inaugural Where We Knit yarn club, it used Silk Single Fingering in an exclusive colorway from Lakes Yarn and Fiber (the photo above is from fellow knitter Carolina of Triple C Photography, taken for an upcoming blog post).
I hope these projects serve as an inspiration for your 2017 knitting.
Like so many knitters I know, I was very much looking forward to the new season of Gilmore Girls that premiered on Netflix November 25th. I tried valiantly to avoid spoilers on social media as I was waiting until after I came home from a post-Thanksgiving business trip to Chicago to start watching.
Instead of plot spoilers, my social media feeds blew up with photos of, and links to, two scarves worn by Rory and Paris in the first episode. I soon learned that two Chicago-based designers — Lisa Whiting and Lucia Blanchet of lisa lucia — had connected with Brenda Maben, the Gilmore Girls costume designer, who commissioned the designs, Dots & Dashes and Eponymuff. I had to learn more.
Since I was, coincidentally, in Chicago, I thought I’d be able to meet Lisa and Lucia for coffee at
Lukes somewhere in the city last Monday, but they were busy launching kits for their patterns that evening. So, instead, I emailed them some questions and they filled me in on their whirlwind experience, with a written back and forth reminiscent of GG creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s rat-a-tat dialogue.
Tell me how this collaboration came about. How did you meet Gilmore Girls costume designer Brenda Maben?
Lucia: Lisa met her first — she was a regular at the LYS Lisa owned in Chicago, Sifu Design Studio & Fine Yarns, which is also where Lisa and I met as well. I don’t remember exactly when I met Brenda, but I hadn’t been teaching/working at the shop for long before I began to look forward to buckets of tea and yarn talk with Brenda around our scarred green work table.
Lisa: I remember exactly when I met Brenda. It was at my first Sifu location in Andersonville. She came in wanting help with a project and she sat down at that same green table and we got to chatting. She was in town for a family gathering. At this point she was living in LA working on several different TV shows. We hit it off immediately. She was mostly living in LA at that point but when she made the permanent move to Chicago, Brenda started visiting us regularly at our Edgewater location.
What was it like to see your designs on the small screen?
Lucia: Oh, it was pretty exciting, but not as surreal as it was to see them on the actors on set. Lisa has a good story…
Lisa: We were on set standing outside Luke’s diner waiting to be seated in our spots and up walks Liza Weil and I gasped. Not because it was her, but because she was wearing our scarf and it looked so good on her. Then I realized that she was smiling and nodding at me. I was so embarrassed thinking she might think I was some weird fangirl that I turned to Lucia with my face all beet red. Later, Brenda told me that she was acknowledging me as the designer of the scarf. I was bowled over!
Lucia: I’ll add that I also got a real thrill out of seeing our pieces hung up and labeled with our brand name in the costume department, because at that point, they were the very first products that “lisa lucia” had ever sold. We were really in just the planning stages of creating the business in the fall of 2015 when Brenda said she wanted to feature some of our stuff in the show. We still hadn’t even closed Lisa’s yarn shop yet! So things got super-accelerated all of a sudden because the show started filming in February immediately after the store closed so during that January, I personally knit four of the six pieces commissioned for the show myself while Lisa dealt with most of…everything else, including making sure I ate regularly.
Lucia: So anyway, while it was indescribably cool to see our pieces on the set and on-screen, I’m also really looking forward to seeing finished objects of these patterns knit by people we’ve never met.
Did the characters of Rory and Paris inspire the designs and the colors you chose?
Lucia: Well, it was more like the pieces were inspired by the show aesthetic in general, because they didn’t all end up where we thought they would. “Dots & Dashes,” for example, was originally supposed to be Lorelai’s, I think, though it totally makes sense that it would end up on Rory in that case. Brenda picked pieces out of our portfolio, some of which we came up with before we heard about GG, some of which emerged in the weeks immediately after we got that news, and in at least one case (Dots), Lisa first drew it up on scrap paper while Brenda was in the room.
Lisa: We had a very grammar/language-themed collection because of the quick witty banter that happens on the show. “Dots & Dashes” was because of the telegraph style speech patterns between characters. And “Eponymuff” was named in honor of Lorelai naming Rory after herself. And seriously, how could we not do a giant coffee mug on a sweater? We both are fueled by caffeine so we relate heavily to the necessity for coffee in one’s life!
Lucia: Oh yeah, and we also picked the color scheme for the “Jumbo Coffee Sweater” based on the interior set of Luke’s Diner and made it an intarsia raglan as a nod to Lorelai’s fondness for baseball tees. While the sweater I made for the show was knit out of Cascade 220 that we had on hand, some of those colors are now discontinued and since we’re also invested in supporting other independent fiber artists, for our upcoming (mid-December) kit we commissioned Michelle Kaston of Essential Fiber to custom dye yarn for us. Something else that’s great about this collaboration is that since three of the colors are used only for the duplicate-stitch detailing, Michelle is making mini-skeins for our kits to reduce waste and bring down material costs for both us and the consumer.
Lucia: The timing was all so whirlwind, and didn’t always match up, so things happened like we came up with a bunch of cute, food-themed pieces inspired by Sookie before it looked like Melissa McCarthy wasn’t going to be in the Revival, but by the time she signed on, it was too late to get those into production in time. And Brenda was considering this one really fitted, vintage-inspired sweater of ours for Rory, but Alexis was pregnant up until really soon before shooting began so we couldn’t get accurate measurements in time. As a result of things like that, a fair amount of what we’ve got upcoming will be Gilmore-inspired to some degree, since as other knitwear designers will probably agree, having the image of something in your mind – or even on paper – is just the bare beginning of all the work it takes to translate that into an actual garment much less a fully fleshed-out knitting pattern.
Do you know if any members of the cast or crew of Gilmore Girls are knitters?
Lucia: Well, Brenda, obviously.
Lisa: Alexis Bledel’s mom.
Lucia: She’s not a crew member obviously, but one of the sweetest things that happened while we were on set was when Alexis came up to a table where Lisa and I were knitting and asked to take a picture of us and our knitting to send to her mom. We are actually going to be doing an interview with Brenda soon specifically about the knitting episode so we’ll find out more then, but she has told us that that episode was basically a gift to her from the producers and that a bunch of the “knitting extras” in that episode were her friends.
Lisa: I would love to do a video interview of all three of us knitting.
Who are each of your favorite Gilmore Girls characters?
Lucia: This is a hard question! Hmmm, my favorite character whose last name isn’t Gilmore is probably Paris. I love “difficult” female characters and complicated, nuanced relationships between women in my fiction (Sookie, Lane and Mrs. Kim are also in the running).
Lisa: I actually didn’t watch GG as religiously as Lucia did. I watched it if it was on but I didn’t have two different VCR players recording Gilmore Girls and Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the same time like Lucia did.
Lucia: Heh. Yeah, I was not messing around. Side note: I actually wrote my undergrad thesis about serial television narrative and the emergence of DVD box sets and Netflix back before streaming video.
Lisa: NERD. Anyway, I would say my favorite character now is Paris or Sookie. As a big girl, I tend to gravitate toward actresses who are bigger because it wasn’t always socially acceptable to be thickums. I like hearing the voices of beautiful funny rubenesque women.
Lucia: Me too, sweetheart.
Um, what else? My answer to the question that always comes up when people talk about GG – who should Rory end up with? – is multipart: a) I don’t really care, because the primary relationship for me on the show has always been between Rory and Lorelai; but, b) If I did care, I’d say Paris! In a different way, my favorite “character” is actually the town of Stars Hollow, because I grew up in a really small New England town (Marlboro, VT, population: 978) filled with eccentric weirdos and Gilmore Girls started airing the same year I moved across the country to go to the University of CA, Santa Cruz, so it was kind of a weekly tonic for my homesickness.
Lisa: Hence the videotaping!
Tell me about your design partnership and how it works.
Lucia: That’s evolving as we transition from the roots of our friendship and how we worked together in the store. It’s definitely entwined with both similarities and differences in our aesthetics, personality, strengths, etc.
Lisa: We both have ADD/ADHD and for me specifically, I find working with another person increases my productivity because I am distracted less. We bounce ideas off each other. I have a fine art degree and have been in the creative pursuits my entire life. Lucia is, on the other hand, more academic. She is a literary genius and the best pattern editor I have ever met in person. Our aesthetic sensibilities are very similar and really meld well together. I tend to do a lot of colorwork and pieces that are technically challenging to knit. Lucia likes clean, interesting shapes that are relatively easy to knit but challenging to design.
Lucia: But even though one of our designs might be more “Lisa style” or “Lucia-esque,” we both have a hand in every piece we put out, whether it’s creative input or technical implementation.
Lisa: There is just so much to do when creating patterns. It isn’t just about putting some math down on paper and putting it up on Ravelry. We are committed to consistency, uniformity in our pattern drafting, and providing easy-to-follow, simple-yet-informative instructions so that any knitter at any skill level can pick up a pattern and feel confident they can do it. We are also writing our patterns to be a FULL range of sizes. It is hard to find beautiful designs that are outside of the range of Medium. There are a few designers who are doing a great job of this. Ysolda Teague is one of them and we really admire her for plowing that field!
To sum up, I couldn’t do this without Lucia. AND I WOULDN’T WANT TO. She is my best friend and even though we have some challenges in working with our disabilities we really are necessary for each other. She is one of my favorite humans!
Lucia: And now I’m blushing. Knowing Lisa has changed my life. In an alternate reality, I’m using my degrees to teach college kids about intertextuality and fanfiction; in this one, I knit sweaters for my favorite teevee characters, research the history and evolution of knitting pattern notation, and wrack my brain trying to figure out how to knit a cable that forms the shape of interlocking knit and purl stitches. I’m still the same flavor of nerd, but working with Lisa has helped me branch out beyond the sphere of language and analysis. Her way of being in the world reminds me that if you want to Make Something, you might as well just go ahead (and you don’t have to do it alone). We also have a larger community of knitters and artisans to help and inspire us, which includes people like Brenda. I’m so grateful for that.
In terms of the nitty gritty, there are very few practical aspects of pattern production that we don’t both take on to greater and lesser degrees, depending. Plus, even though Lisa draws all our sketches and diagrams, I have input on what a given image should look like; likewise, while I generally draft the final text of our patterns, Lisa is always involved throughout. The way we went about responding to these questions is a pretty good example of our working dynamic, actually: we both worked in the same Google doc on two separate computers, often at the same time, while also communicating with one another over email, phone, text, and in person. We talk to each other a lot when we’re physically apart, and can also spend vast amounts of time in the same room doing different things.
Lisa: IT’S ALL SO META. Because as we are finalizing this for you, we are also on the phone talking about how to end it. So I think this is where we say, THANK YOU!
Lucia: Yes, thank you! So much!
Lisa: We really have enjoyed doing this questionnaire for you and we are excited to share more of our work in the very near future. See you all on Ravelry.
This is the eighth and final post in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.
Though there have been many times when I’ve impulse bought beautiful hand-dyed skeins without an idea of what they’ll become, I generally try to shop for yarn with patterns in mind. If you also find it helpful to have suggestions, I asked Patti Odinak, the owner of Yarn Culture in Fairport, N.Y., to send over her favorite patterns for the yarn she’s bringing to the 2016 Indie Untangled Trunk show from two overseas indies: The Uncommon Thread, based in the UK, and Rosy Green Wool of Germany.
I’m also excited to announce that Ce Persiano, the talented dyer behind TUT, will be hopping across the pond and will be at the Yarn Culture booth during the trunk show!
The Uncommon Thread
Yarn: Everyday Sport, a sport-weight 100% Merino
Rosy Green Wool
The Girl in Me
from fellow German Melanie Berg
Yarn: Heb, 100% organic Merino and Hebridean
This is the sixth in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.
After the interview I did with designer and knitting techie Amy Herzog last year, I decided to ask her to pair yarn from some of the indie dyers at the trunk show with her sweater patterns. I’m looking forward to showing off my Acer cardigan — which I knit to my measurements using Amy’s brilliant CustomFit software and Skeinny Dipping’s Journey Worsted — at the fairgrounds on Saturday!
Knitters, it is so great to be us right now.
When I learned to knit as a kid, I had a really limited set of yarn options. There was department-store acrylic, of course, as well as basic wool in both woolenspun and worsted-spun varieties. If cost was no issue, Lopi was definitely available — and of course there was dishcloth cotton, though you wouldn’t really want to wear a sweater knit from it (ask me how I know). And that was pretty much it.
Contrast that to now: hundreds of varieties of yarn at every price point, fiber blend, and several unusual constructions. The explosion that happened in our community when knitters met the internet has changed our craft in a thousand ways. One of the most important is that individual artisans can now engage with knitters everywhere — and Indie Untangled in particular does a lovely job of making that match.
I share Lisa’s love of artisan yarn, and can easily get lost playing around with how deeply-complex colors meshed with stitch patterns in a design. But I often hear from knitters that the sheer… specialness of artisanal yarn makes it hard to commit to a sweater project. What if it’s not right? What if we don’t like the result?
So in celebration and anticipation of the third Indie Untangled event at Rhinebeck this year, I thought I’d offer my opinion on some pattern/yarn pairings that are sure to produce sweaters you want to wear all the time — from general recommendations to specific yarn/pattern pairings that I think will be divine.
Designs as blank canvasses
Before I dive into specific matches, though, I want to take a moment to talk about using special yarns in general. In my opinion, if you’re pouring your effort into a yarn that makes your heart flutter, the yarn should be the star of the show. And that means the design should take a back seat to, and support, the beauty of the yarn — rather than competing with it.
This doesn’t have to mean plain stockinette, although sometimes that’s definitely the best way to showcase a spectacular yarn:
It can also mean small-scale stitch patterns or design elements that showcase something exquisite about the yarn you’ve chosen. Here are a few sweaters where lace gets translated into a beautiful fuzzy texture by a rustic woolenspun, or a small-scale texture breaks up more substantial color changes:
But whether you’re into miles of Stockinette or not, when you’re evaluating a design for your show-stopping yarn, it’s a good idea to stop and check whether your favorite part of the design will be in conflict with, or support, the yarn itself.
Matches made in heaven
The Woolen Rabbit. I’ve worked with Kim’s yarns extensively over the years, and have never had an experience that was less than blissful. I’ve designed several patterns for her yarn, so it’s tough to choose just one — but this fall, I’m in love with cables.
Partly, this is because I’ve just introduced cabled patterns in CustomFit, my custom-gauge-and-size sweater pattern generator. But I was very excited to make Birch Bark, in particular, one of the first. I originally worked this sweater up in Frolic, and I’m still excited by the way the very graphic cables interact with the subtle color changes of Kim’s yarn. I’ve taken advantage of the re-release to make a long-sleeved version for myself, and this time I’m using WW Kashmir. I think it would work beautifully in a number of colorways — it was hard to choose! My three finalists were Oakmoss, Pussywillow, and Enchanted Forest.
The Uncommon Thread. I was introduced to Posh Fingering when I worked up my Round Cove cardigan, and I’ve hankered for my own ever since I made it. But when thinking about pattern pair-ups for this post, I couldn’t get the thought of a Sunset Drive in the Posh out of my head:
The Sunset Drive sample in these pictures was actually made for someone else, and I’ve wanted to make my own version with a slightly-dropped neckline. I’m more of a neutrals-wearer, myself, so I think I’d lean into that with Uncommon Thread’s lovely muted shades. You can see all of their colors here; I’m dreaming of Baby Elephant Walk, Squirrel Nutkin, and Olive Leaf in particular.
Rosy Green Wool. Finally, a relative newcomer yarn — at least to me! I recently worked up a new design explicitly for Rosy Green Wool’s Cheeky Merino Joy:
Tidal Pool is available on Ravelry as a traditional pattern, and will be available via CustomFit later this fall. I was so incredibly impressed with the sophisticated color and diamond-sharp stitch definition of this yarn that I knew I couldn’t do anything other than an updated classic. The textured stitch pattern of Tidal Pool is a direct homage to the loveliness of this yarn.
I’d love to keep the conversation going — if you have any special yarn-pattern pairings that you adore, share them with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram — or see more of my musings on my own site. And whether you’ll be at Rhinebeck or not, have a great fall filled with lovely knitting!
Tomorrow night marks the start of something I look forward to every four years — the Ravellenic Games! Yes, I do also love the games that start with the letter O (as a business, I do have to watch my wording), but I am more partial to winter sports, especially figure skating.
What I like about Ravelry’s Ravellenic games is the idea of challenging yourself as a knitter. Two years ago, I completed a fingering weight cardigan for my soon-to-be born nephew. Two years before that, I knit a Multnomah shawl in fingering weight yarn, the first time I had finished such a large project in just two weeks.
This year, I’m taking on a challenge I never thought I ever would have considered — knitting a cardigan. In pieces. With set-in sleeves. Backtracking a little, I have long wanted to knit an Acer Cardigan and I picked up a sweater quantity of Skeinny Dipping’s Journey Worsted at last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show to do just that, for this year’s Rhinebeck sweater. I knew I would be using Amy Herzog’s CustomFit, and after purchasing the Acer pattern, I generated a second pattern in CustomFit using my measurements and similar parameters: a crew neck cardigan with two inches of 2×2 ribbing and a 1-inch button band. The big difference is that CustomFit doesn’t account for stitch patterns that may affect your gauge. For cables, which generally compress stockinette, you have to add stitches to compensate. After gathering some advice from the awesome sweater-knitting experts in Amy’s Ravelry group, I knit a swatch in the cable pattern and then decided it would be less risky to knit the sweater in pieces, so that I would have a better idea of how it measured out before knitting too much of it.
I have set in sleeves on a CustomFit sweater before (it did take me several hours, but I did it!) so, in theory, doing the side seams should be a piece of cake. Still, I am a bit daunted by the prospect. My nightmare is that somehow not all of the pieces will block out to the right size and then won’t fit together. A couple of my knitting friends have offered to do some seaming handholding when the time comes, so I will probably take them up on it.
It didn’t help that last night, I attended a talk that one of my knitting groups held with designer Kristina McGowan, who developed a friendship with the fascinating Barbara Walker, a pioneer of top-down, seamless knitting. Barbara, Kristina explained, hated things like seaming and stranded colorwork, so she created her own innovative ways around them. Ultimately, as I’m a big follow-the-rules knitter, I will be sucking it up and seaming.
Since I already started the sweater, and most likely won’t be able to finish it in two weeks, I’m not planning for this project to be in contention for a Ravellenic medal. But, I am still considering this my Ravellenic project. Because the only way to grow, as a knitter, an athlete or just as a person, is to swallow your fears and jump in feet first (uh, or head first, if you’re a diver).