Tag: sweaters

This Neckline 2

Do you know about Mati Ventrillon? She’s the French-Venezuelan architect turned knitwear designer who made the news a couple of years ago when Chanel featured some of her designs without attributing them to her. She lives on Fair Isle (along with only 54 other people) and spends the year caring for a flock of sheep whose wool becomes the basis for her beautifully conceived Fair Isle garments.

There’s an informative video about her life and work in this article. And this article gives a pretty detailed description of her path to Fair Isle and her life there (be warned–the format is a little wonky).

The persnickety part of me wishes every stitch of her garments were hand knit, but at the same time, it’s hard to see how she’d stay afloat as a business without the aid of the knitting machine she uses for sweater bodies and sleeves.

That said, I absolutely love what she does with the collars, cuffs, and hems of her sweaters. These she does knit by hand. Some are a basic rib, but many are far more interesting. There are variations on what looks like i-cord edging, interesting hood constructions, and lots of unusual shaping for the necklines and hems.

That is actually the whole point of this post. I’m in love with this neckline.

 

If you follow the link to the Facebook page or go to Madi Ventrillon’s website where this is the cover photo, you can get a better look at it.

How did she do this? Is it just stockinette that’s rolled and been given an interesting shape by blocking? Or is there some sort of actual knitted shaping involved? I’m not even sure why I love it so much, but I seriously need to understand how to do this.

 

Tea with Jam and Bread 12

We finally had a sunny day last week, and I was able to take some pictures of Paul’s Tea with Jam and Bread sweater!

This is a terrific basic pullover pattern. The only thing that’s a little unusual in the design is that Heidi Kirrmaier adds some short-row shaping at the back of the neck to get a more pleasing fit. In the photo below, you can see the nice effect it has. I like this so much that I’ll probably start adding it to other sweater patterns in the future.

At Paul’s request I didn’t didn’t do the color blocking or add the pockets that the pattern calls for. The only other modification I made was to the sleeves. To get a slightly more tailored fit, I started the decreases early and worked them so that the cuffs fit close around the wrist. I also shortened the length of the sleeves a bit to fit Paul’s arms.

The yarn I used for this was Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted in the “Cafe Au Lait” colorway. I got it on sale at Alpaca Direct. It’s something I’d been wanting to try for quite awhile because Brown Sheep seems like such a great company. They’re a family-owned business, located in Mitchell, Nebraska, and they’ve done all kinds of things to make their process environmentally friendly–things like coming up with a way to reuse 70-90% of their daily waste water!

I also really love a wool/mohair blend for warm, hard wearing sweaters. I’ve got a sweater’s worth of this in “Antique Mauve” I’m going to use to make something for myself.

Bottom line, I highly recommend both this sweater pattern and the yarn if you’re looking for a comfy, sturdy, well designed pullover!

 

Yarn Along 1

I’m racing a storm to get this posted before the power goes out, so I’ll just leave this with no additional commentary other than that I highly recommend both the pattern, Inlet, and the book, Michael Pollan’s Second Nature!

 

 

P.S. Doh! I’m a day early!!!! I’ll update tomorrow with a link to the Small Things blog where everyone else will be posting about what they are reading and knitting.

P.P.S. Wow . . . The Yarn Along has come to an end. I’m so sad. Take a look at this post for Ginny Sheller’s perfectly reasonable explanation of why she’s no longer going to be hosting it. I really do understand. But I’m still sad.

Help A Knitter Out 10

A couple of weeks ago I went to a class on small fruit trees hosted by our local Master Gardener group. I brought my knitting, of course, and this attracted the attention of a fellow class member. Turns out, this gentleman (my new friend David) had been looking for a knitter. Go figure!

David’s dad was in the service during WW II and spent a good bit of that time wearing the army issue sweater pictured above. Dad eventually passed the sweater along to David who still wears it. ALL THE TIME. (He also wants to learn to knit. We’re both happily married, or you know I would have been a goner.)

Anyhoo, the sweater is clearly a little worse for wear, and David would like to have it repaired. My question for you, friends and knitters of the blogosphere, is what’s the best way to go about such a thing?

This has clearly been machine knit at a very fine gauge, so while I could mend it well enough to stop the unravelling, I’m doubtful that the results would be cosmetically pleasing. I’ve googled hand darning machine knits and all kinds of WW II sweater things, but so far I haven’t come up with a good solution. I feel sure this wheel must have already been invented. Can anyone point me in the right direction?

On the homefront the rain has been unrelenting.

So I’ve decided to sit by the fire and knit until the sun comes out.

Or until I have to wake up and get back to real life. Ha!

Be well, my knitters. And please let me know if you have any advice about how to help David with his sweater.

Meet Franklin! 19

Meet Franklin!

A few Saturdays ago, destiny happened. Paul and I came across a local adoption event and met the orange kitty of our dreams. We’d been open to getting a second cat for a couple of years, ever since Augie showed up on our back porch as a baby and taught us that a cat really could be happy in a house full of dogs. When our eyes met Franklin’s, we knew he was the one.

It was meant to be. He rode the hour and a half home from the adoption event on Paul’s lap.

 

 

And it turns out that he’s devoted to knitting.

 

 

Go figure!

I’m sure he’ll be making frequent appearances here, so I wanted to give him a proper introduction.

In knitting news, I’ve finished Paul’s Tea with Jam and Bread sweater. I’ll post about that soon. The plan is to take pictures one day this week.

And I’ve cast on the Inlet cardigan by Amy Herzog.

 

Do you know about Amy Herzog? I’ve been interested in her and her sweater designs for years. She’s all about sweaters that fit, and one of her mantras is that your pattern should match your gauge and yarn, not the other way around.

When you purchase one of her custom fit patterns, you provide your measurements and the gauge at which you want to knit, and her pattern generator comes up with the specific pattern instructions for your personal sweater.

I’ve always figured there must be something to her method because, unlike with a lot of sweater projects you look at on Ravelry where you see the sweater folded or laid flat or draped over a chair, when you look at the projects for her designs, people are actually wearing them! And they look great!

I cast on last night with some Peace Fleece worsted in the Mourning Dove colorway from my stash. Two words: twisted rib.

 

I might not ever knit plain one-by-one rib again!

Yarn Along: Sweater and Coates 11

Here I am posting just under the wire for the Wednesday Yarn Along!

This week I’m knitting the Tea with Jam and Bread sweater for Paul and reading Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Both are substantial and important in a million million ways.

 

Be sure to stop by Ginny Sheller’s Small Things blog for links to what lots of other people are knitting and reading this week.

 

Checks & Balances 13

Talking sweaters today, not government.*

Paul’s Checks & Balances sweater is off the needles!

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I wrote about the Good Fibrations yarn I used for this in an earlier post, and I simply cannot praise it enough. Knitting with it made me think back to one of the first sweaters I ever made.

That sweater was a cardigan, and the yarn I was using was a worsted tweed of some sort. The feel of it was full and soft and sturdy, all at the same time. It was like a lullaby in my hands, and it carried me off to a sweet, sweet place whenever I picked it up. Honestly, I think knitting with that yarn, all those years ago, is one of the reasons I became A Knitter. And this yarn is like that. Plus, it’s gorgeous.

The colorway is called “Soft Suede,” and it goes with just about every pair of pants Paul has.

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One consideration when I was choosing a pattern was that the sweater needed to be sturdy and not prone to losing its shape. Paul is pretty hard on his clothes, and I wanted this to be something he could wear without having to worry about stretching it out or messing it up. I decided to go with a design knit in pieces and then seamed, hoping that the seaming would add a little more structure to the sweater than it might have otherwise, and that definitely turned out to be the case. He should be able to knock around in this day in and day out without any worries.

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It makes my heart swell to think of my honey wearing the sweater I knit for him, with all the love and care that went into it holding him close. I don’t do a ton of knitting for other people, but every time I do, I’m reminded what a special gift a knitted thing is. The person who gets it and the knitter who knitted it both come away with so much.

I have one other random picture I’ve been meaning to show you–the Mystery KAL Shawl in the wild! A friend took this snapshot of us at a wedding recently. The shawl was perfect because the wedding was in the evening, and it was held outside. The temperature was in the seventies when we got there, but by the time dinner and dancing wrapped up, it was in the mid-fifties. I started out with the shawl over my arm, but by the end of the night, I was using it to keep me warm. Hooray for handknits in action!

amandas-wedding

 

*Just one thought–I loved this article on npr.org about working toward a fuller understanding of where others might be coming from by reading “the book that’s not for you.”

 

 

Fall Is In The Air 12

goat

Are you feeling the fall where you are? We spent the weekend running around here and there and loving the nip in the air.

I bound off the sleeves for Paul’s sweater (finally!) as we drove.

knittig-and-driving

On Saturday, we got to visit this year’s goat babies at Good Fibrations. Their pals gave us the fiber I’ve been using to knit the sweater.

goats

You can see the leaves coming down in their pasture. This is across the border from us in North Carolina, and fall seems to be a little further along there than it is at our place.

I took this picture along our driveway during my lunchtime walk today. The leaves are just starting to turn. I love the woodpecker tree on the right. And can you believe the sky?

fall-woodpecker-tree

Here’s more fabulousness from North Carolina. I can’t remember what the plant in the foreground is called, but I need to find out. That’s pink muhly grass in the foreground. It and the bush behind it with the purple berries made my heart ache they were putting on such a show.

fall-plants

The bush with the purple berries is called a beautyberry. Look at the color of those berries! I’m wondering if it could be preserved in dyeing. I haven’t found an answer yet although I did learn that the beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a natural insect repellent, apparently comparable to DEET in effectiveness.

beautyberries-2

The cooler temps have spurred Paul to start bringing firewood up from the shed.

firewood

And they’ve made me pull out the crockpot.

lentil-minestrone

And start another blanket.

zigzag-blanket-co-3

Oops.

Instructions for living a life . . . * 2

I’m trying to live deliberately these days. There’s so much to be swept up in. I know you know what I mean. World things, family things, living life things . . .  It can be overwhelming. I’m looking for solid ground.

Knitting is solid ground. I’m slowly making progress on the sleeves of Paul’s sweater. I love thinking of his arms wrapped in these stitches I’ve put together, one after another, so carefully.

sleeves

Recently, I was with some people dear to me, and the situation was stressful, tense. There was waiting involved. I picked up these sleeves and started to knit, and the effect was remarkable. The energy in the room changed for all of us. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it first hand, but my knitting was like a spell that suddenly allowed us all to relax. I was aware of the change as it was happening. We were all watching my hands knit one stitch, and one stitch, and one stitch, and we began to be soothed. Knitting has that power.

Homemade buttermilk biscuits are also solid ground.

biscuits

Baking these required just enough focus to make the demands of the moment more powerful than all the other places my mind wanted to go. Eating them reminded me of my grandmother. Sharing them with Paul made me happy. That was enough.

Another thing I think will be grounding is starting to do some natural dyeing. I’ve been anxious to try this for quite a while. The process interests me, and I like the idea of becoming more intimate with the plants and trees that are everywhere around us on the mountain. The goldenrod is practically insisting that the time is right. It’s in full, crazy bloom at the moment and is everywhere.

I ordered some books last week.

dye-books

And today we went to the flea market to look for inexpensive, non-reactive pots and other tools I’ll need.

flea-market

It must have been my lucky day because I found three pots, two stainless steel and one enamel, along with some tongs and a stainless steel colander.

dyeing-equipment

Dogs may be the most solid ground of all. How can you have any doubt about where you stand when you’re with a dog?

dulce

In many ways blogging is also grounding. It’s what I thought of when I read Mary Oliver’s “Instructions for living a life”:

 Pay attention.

Be astonished.

Tell about it.

If you have any suggestions for staying grounded, I’d love to hear them. Please post a comment or email me at melinda@knitpotion.com.

 

*From “Sometimes” in Red Bird: Poems by Mary Oliver

Casting On 5

What better way to kick off the 4th of July weekend than by casting on for a heavy wool sweater?! Woohoo! Seriously, I’m pretty excited. I started Checks and Balances for Paul.

Checks-and-Balances-Yarn

I’m using one of my absolute favorite yarns. It’s a mohair/merino blend from Good Fibrations. The mohair is the magic ingredient. It gives the yarn this incredible loft that makes it wonderful to handle, and it knits up into garments that are exactly what you want from wool–light but sturdy, comfy, cozy, hard wearing . . . It’s the perfect sweater yarn.

And the color! The artist who raises the angora goats who contribute the mohair is a genius with the dye pot! I posted a picture of a mind blowing red she dyed back in October. The colorway I’m using for Paul’s sweater is called “Soft Suede.” I’m not sure if you can tell from the picture, but in its way, it has as much depth as that glorious red.

M-and-G

The best part about Good Fibrations yarn and the very special woman behind it is the goats themselves. My friends, these are happy, happy goats.

Gracie 2

These pictures are from a visit to the Good Fibrations farm during kidding season. I think that’s what it’s called. It’s the time when there are goat babies everywhere!

Goats

Gracie 1

The cute is unreal.

I cast on for the sweater last night and knit a bit here and there as we ran errands today. I found a shady spot behind the library while Paul ran into the bank.

Checks-and-Balancs-CO

This is going to be a busy weekend, and the Tour de Fleece starts tomorrow, so there will be lots of spinning for the next few weeks. That probably mean progress on Checks and Balances will be slow for awhile. That’s okay. I’m happy to have gotten started.

Happy 4th of July weekend, everyone! I hope you get to spend it doing the things you love.