Much ado about blocking.

If you don’t block sweaters…why the hell not? Nothing makes a piece look as professional and finished. I almost always block a sweater before seaming, like I’m doing with this Hugohugo-2Blocking before seaming lets you make sure you get the pieces to the exact measurements you want and it smooths out all of the slight imperfections in the stitches. Pre-seaming blocking also allows the sweater to dry faster since it’s still in pieces. You need to block the pieces to get it to the gauge of the swatch you washed and blocked, right?

hugoI know, I know. It’s a pain. You need to soak it in some wool wash, like Eucalan, and squeeze out the water gently, then roll it up in a dry towel and smoosh the water out with your feet. Then you finesse the pieces into the finished measurements and maybe you pin it lightly. Maybe you pin it aggressively if it’s lace. I think the sweater pieces should be fairly relaxed when you pin them because if you’re getting aggressive at this point you might not have made the correct gauge or size in the first place. I’ve learned that lesson a couple of times.

But seriously, if you’re not a dedicated blocker, try it next time you do a sweater. It’s well worth the effort and I know you can hold on just a little longer on the finishing. Just cast on something new while you wait for it to dry. Read this Knitty article for more specific tips, especially for dealing with different fibers.

This sweater is now so close to being finished! After seaming it just needs the ribbed collar and some buttons. It’s for my brother and I’ll see him next weekend for our little sister’s wedding. Then he can cart it home to Minnesota where it will surely get lots of use. I should probably send him home with some wool wash and washing instructions. I made this out of Cascade 220 (non-superwash).

Introducing Articulation

I’m very happy to be releasing a new pattern today! It’s called Articulation (thank you, Andrea for your suggestion on this post).  articulationI started the knitting at the end of July and finished at the beginning of September.  The knitting is the most fun process for me, of course.  The writing, correcting, editing, and re-editing part is less fun.  I had the help of a wonderful tech editor, Eleanor Dixon, and with her assistance I finally got myself to the finish line.articulation-4Matt chose the color for this sweater. It’s far more neutral than I would have chosen on my own, but it really grew on me as the project developed.  The yarn is Cascade Ecological Wool in the color Antique.  I wanted to use an Aran weight yarn to help make the sweater knitting speedy.

articulation-3I’m such a lover of shawl collars. I felt like this sweater had to have one, so I built that into the design.  articulation-2If you want to learn more about the pattern, see the pattern page on Ravelry or you can .

Forgotten knits

In the whirlwind of NaKniSweMo knitting I nearly completely forgot my beautiful Oshima, until I saw this Instagram picture of Cara‘s Oshima, and I remembered my sad little sweater, shoved in a project bag and set aside for almost a whole month. Unlike the misbehaving Hugo, Oshima wasn’t on an intentional time out. There were just so many deadline projects all in a row, and then NaKniSweMo started and it seemed appropriate to begin a new sweater for the challenge, so I pulled her out over the weekend and finished up the front…oshima

You can see the sleeves on this post. I just need to finish the back shaping (not much at this point), then I can put it together and work that glorious cowl neck! I did add about 3.5 inches to the body because it seemed way too short for my long-waisted torso. Look at this gorgeous shaping: oshima-2

Hugo is still on a deadline, yes, but maybe I can slip in some work on Oshima here and there. It feels like it’s only a day and a half of work at this point!

So many knits, so little time! My brain is working on designs too. Can I just retire from this dissertation work and go full-time with knitting already? Sigh. Back to the needles.

The two week sweater!

I’m done ahead of schedule! Hurrah. Hooray for worsted weight knits. I know some knitters are keeping diligent count on the stitches to make sure they meet the requirement of 50,000 stitches. Honestly, I have no idea, but I’m assuming this does meet that.


I finished on Thursday (day 14) in the evening and got it on the blocking board right away. I might have turned up the heat just a little bit…and put a fast moving fan on it to help speed things along. By the time it was dry on Friday afternoon, we were in the midst of some downright lovely weather that only got lovelier over the weekend. I didn’t really get a chance to wear it till today, when the fall chill came back. Two week sweater!nanook-2-4

This was a fantastic piece to knit. It’s Nanook in Cascade 220 Lavender heather. I made the small size and did it as written, aside from doing the sleeves in the round (though that’s an option in the pattern), adding some waist decreases and increases in the back, reducing some of the front increases, as well as adding length to the sleeves and body.  I took pretty good notes on my Ravelry  project page if you’re curious about specific changes. I’m always a little vague about the exact numbers in the pattern, because I feel like that’s not my info to give away on a paid pattern. I try to be specific enough with my info that you can figure it out how to replicate my modifications if you have the pattern. You can see a little bit of the waist shaping in the picture below.


Nanook is pretty cozy. I’m still trying to figure out where I want to put some buttons, because I’d like to have that option. The button you see in the pictures is just two buttons sewn back to back that I stuck through a YO in the pattern. I thought it would be nice to have a movable button, but that doesn’t seem to be working out yet. I need to experiment more.

nanook-4-2These are super quick pictures taken immediately after I got home, while there was still a teeny bit of light. It’s much harder to find time to get well-lit pics this time of year, so these are a bit hasty, but oh well. nanook-3-4I’ll try to share another shot when I figure out the button situation, but I’m calling this baby done!


My SSKAL project is finished! I made Beatnik, by Norah Gaughn. The cables were fun, fun, fun. I made a few mistakes and had to rip back, but on the whole, it was pleasant. You can read more of my notes here on my Ravelry project page. I used Cascade 220 worsted weight yarn in Pyrite Heather. This sweater will match Matt’s cardigan and Z’s pullover. I promise, there will be dorky family photos of all of us in these sweaters as soon as it is cool enough to wear them.

The photos are super grainy because I was eager to shoot in the early morning light when it was cool enough to actually wear the sweater, but I probably should have waited for a little more sun to arrive.


I made only slight modifications. I think I added a total of 1/2″ to the body, because I have a long waist. I made the size XS sleeves to help ease some of the bagginess at the top I noticed on others’ sleeves in Ravelry projects. Looking back, I think I could have maybe just altered some of the sleeve cap shaping to fix this, ending with a narrower cap at the top, but making the sleeve in a smaller size seemed to work as well. I made the sleeve cap slightly longer, doing the decreases every 3 rows, rather than every 2. I also added a bit of length to the sleeves, about 2 extra inches.


I’m so glad I participated in SSKAL. It got me working on a sweater that I can wear all fall and winter. It made for some sweaty hands on my part a few summer evenings, but we actually had a lot of freakishly cooler and rainy weather this July and August, so it worked out well.

This was the first evening:

lake-2And then the next morning there was a lot of fog on the lake:

lake-5It was a hard spot to leave.

A lonely sweater

I’m really anthropomorphizing the heck out of yarn and sweaters these days. Do you think our knitted wool is lonely when we’re not wearing it? This sweater might just eagerly be awaiting some baby limbs and torso to wrap itself around. Who knows. Here are some still life shots of her new Neighborly.


I’m too excited to  wait until Z is over her cold to post the finished object. I plan on photographing her and Matt at the same time, since they will be wearing their matching family sweaters out of the Cascade 220 Pyrite Heather.

neighborlyI picked the button up at my LYS. It’s a Dill brand button. I used this kind on my Larch Cardigan also. I really like them.

neighborly-3I knitted a contrasting color for the hem, just because I like the look of it. Knitted hems are so satisfying. I even like the rhythm of sewing them down. Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone that I like finishing sometimes.

The inside of the sleeves has a little contrast too. This might end up making the sleeve too thick when she wears it. If that’s the case, I might undo it later, but for now I really like it. The cream color is some stashed Creative Focus Worsted, back when it was made by Nashua, not Rowan.

neighborly-2For now this lonely little sweater can just wait in the closet and anticipate all the future joy and play that its occupant will enjoy.

March of the elephants

I love these little elephants, or Ellybobs, as they are called in the pattern. It’s nice to have some contrast color making an entrance because I was getting a little bored with just the dark Velvet Olive Jitterbug. The Shibui Sock elephants make a nice little pop of color.


According to the label, the color number for the Shibui Sock is 5677, but I can’t find this color number associated with any of their current colors. It looks nearly identical to the Wasabi colorway (7495). I’m guessing the color I have was discontinued. I purchased it back in 2007 at ImagiKnit in San Francisco.


After re-learning how to weave the floats and getting comfortable with the tension, the Ellybobs have gone pretty smoothly. I’ve made little arrows on the charts to help me remember which direction I’m going for each row. Anything that takes some of the thinking out of the chart is fine by me. Fair Isle is so fun when you get going.

This is my first time doing Fair Isle on a knit and a purl side. I’ve only done it in the round prior to this. It’s not so bad on the purl rows. It’s definitely slower, as purling is for me, and I have to pay more attention to my tension. That has been my primary concern, but I think weaving the floats in helps me pay attention to this. If you want to know more about weaving in floats when working Fair Isle patterns, I put together a little tutorial to help. I first learned about weaving floats from this post, but that post only addressed Fair Isle when knitting. For the Ellybob Cardigan you need to weave floats on both the knit and purl side.

Back to the knitting!