Modifcation Monday: Anthro Cardigan

This is easily one of my favourite knits of the year. In the spring my LYS held a special kind of knit-along: an indie dyer knit along! It gave me a perfect excuse to continue my affection for Lichen and Lace’s single ply fingering weight (which some of you may remember was also the yarn used in my Devil’s Backbone shawl). I decided to go with the Anthro cardigan by Polish designer Hanna Maciejewska.

Anthro Cardigan knit in Lichen and Lace

The biggest reason I picked this pattern was because the waist shaping method is to place a gorgeous cable in the small of the back. No increasing and decreasing along the sides – just a cable! And what a lovely cable to boot. I love the texture, and how it played with the handpainted yarn.knit cable as waist shaping

I made a few modifications to the original pattern. The most significant being that I took the contrast colour that is supposed to be knit on the inside of the cuff and bottom band and flipped it. The main body is knit in the colourway rainy day and the contrasting colour is calm waters. I liked the look so much that I used calm waters for the button band and the collar.

I also added an inch or so to the body after the waist shaping so the bottom hem sits exactly where I’d like to. This meant I had needed even more buttons than the ten or so required.

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I found the buttons at a local shop in the market, and the sweater requires fourteen of them. I really like the pearly-stormy look, matching right in with my sea/sky theme that is threaded through the sweater.

I made a mistake modification with the sleeves. They’re 3/4 instead of full length (on purpose, I swear!) and the cable detail on the cuff is altered to make it tighter than the original.

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Now I did that by eliminating plain knit rows between cable rows. Which wasn’t originally my intention, but once I did it, I liked it so much that I mimicked it on the other side to match.

I was so pleased with the final product that I treated myself to some new wool-wash from Eucalan’s jasmine-oil infused Wrapture. (They didn’t even pay me to say that or anything. I just adore it.) The yarn bloomed very nicely, making the sweater very soft and easily washable. My Lichen and Lace obsession continues! I’m sure this won’t be the last project with it.

Thanks to my lovely Mama for the pictures. Happy Knitting, friends!

 

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On Cancer

My mother has breast cancer.

I’ve written and deleted that sentence six or seven times by now. There’s no other way to begin this piece.

It was a bit of a shock for us, back in February when we found out. My mother is barely 51. She’s only just dipped into the age bracket where your doctor starts recommending regular mammograms. She works hard to be physically, mentally, and spiritually healthy. It didn’t make any sense.

Often when loved ones are facing an illness or experiencing a loss (and cancer is both, over and over and over again) we jump immediately to “What can I do?” “What can I do to make it better? What can I do to make you happy? What can I do to make things be okay? What?” It’s human nature, and it was the first thing I did. My mother, clearly prepared for this response had an answer: make playlists for when I’m bored during chemotherapy, come with me to appointments, hold my hand.

I did those things (except for the playlists, sorry Mum, but we both know that was busy work anyways…), and many more things. Being a knitter, if you say the words “chemotherapy” to me, my first thought is always going to be  “cap, you need a cap.”

That is a thing I can do. I’ll do that.

I poked around Ravelry until I found the pattern I wanted. Knitty had done a breast cancer awareness mini-issue,  in which there was a hat pattern designed specifically as a chemo cap: Shedir. I went to the yarn shop for hugs and reassurance and some Cascade Ultra Pima in a flattering colour. Blue, obviously. I cast on.

I didn’t know that this would become one of the most difficult things I’ve ever made.

On the surface, it shouldn’t have been. I’ve knit lots of hats for adults and children alike. There weren’t any new techniques for me. It took less than 200 yards of a cotton sport-weight yarn. It’s a well-written pattern that I didn’t plan on altering. Simple.

knit chemotherapy capI knit, frogged, and re-knit the brim three times, trying to get the perfect fit for a head that wasn’t bald yet, but would be. I tried to think instead about how pretty the cable pattern would be or how the colour would compliment her eyes. But all I could think every time I picked it up was: “Cancer. My mother has cancer. I’m making this because she has cancer. My Mum is going to lose her hair during chemotherapy. Which she needs because she has a rare and aggressive cancer. Fuck.”

I’m the kind of knitter who worries about knitting “bad vibes” into a gift, despite being a scientist who doesn’t actually believe in such nonsense. I wondered if maybe I could knit my worry into a hat. I started taking deep breaths whenever I’d start a row, letting my thoughts be whatever they naturally were, but not panicking about them. Honestly, it’s the only way I made it past the brim.

Whenever I worked on it, I thought about what the cap represented. What it meant. And instead of this being a negative thing, it turned out to be very important for me. It slowed me down enough to let me process what was happening on my own time and in my own way.hand knit chemotherapy cap

I ripped back even the smallest error and corrected it. I spent several weeks picking it up and putting it down. Acceptance of the situation – and I mean a true, deep acceptance – took time and more than a few false starts. That’s okay. It’s all a part of the process.*

*ack, I sound like my therapist.

By the time it was finished, I decided the hat was probably more a gift for me than for my Mum, who wears it to humour me, but prefers her collection of peaked hats. Or just going about bald (to be fair, she’s a very attractive bald lady. Seriously. She has, like, a perfect head). But making it let me process everything, as well as feel like I was helping out at a time when there wasn’t much to do.

After weeks and weeks chemotherapy, which she handled well, came surgery. Just a week post-surgery she agreed to model her hat for me.

Knit chemotherapy cap

(she’d probably like me to mention at this point that she’s not actually that large around the middle, but that she still has post-surgery tubing under her shirt. I tried to crop out most of it Mum, I swear!)

Adversity can bring out the worst in people, but it can also bring out the best. It’s certainly brought out the best in her friends and family, all of whom have been incredibly loving and supportive. It brought out the best in my yarn friends who checked in on me, and in my bosses who graciously covered for me so that I could spend a few weeks at home with her. There is still a bit of a road ahead. However. If there ever was a person more capable of beating this than my mother, I’ve yet to meet them. I’m in awe and very proud of her.

“When you’re going through Hell, keep going!”

Good luck with the second half of your journey, Mum.

I love you.

Nicole

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Spring means handknit skirts!

Knitting skirts (or pants, more on that later…)  is a strange business. Handknit fabric usually doesn’t stand up well to the type of wear we put on our skirts and comes with a high risk of sagging in a rather…unflattering way.

Enter: The Lanesplitter Skirt by Tina Whitmore.

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It’s also now warm enough for impromptu photography on the balcony. Hurrah! 

Alternating between two balls of Noro Kureyon gives a pretty wild look, that adds a heavy dose of colour to my otherwise very neutral wardrobe.

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All my favourite colours in one skirt. Yes, please.

I went down a needle size and used a 50/50 wool/acrylic blend to create a small waistband at the top. The 2×2 ribbing  is stretchy enough that there was no need for an elastic band to hold it in place. I’ve worn this skirt from morning until night, and it doesn’t shift or ride up – for which I’m very grateful! It was deliberately made as a high waisted mini-skirt and I only ended up using three balls of Noro for a 27″ waist.

The Lanesplitter skirt is knit on the bias as one large rectangle, which is then seamed at the end. Because of this structure it doesn’t sag very easily, if at all. There are many variations on the pattern that allow for seamless construction, but I kind of like the seam look. Adds to the effect, in my opinion. Plus it makes this pattern a dead simple knit.

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Typically I fashion it with my shirt OVER the waistband instead of tucked in.

The only really downside to this skirt is that it must be worn with leggings, for both length and texture reasons. I find the yarn too rough to wear directly against my skin, so tights or leggings are a must. I decided that since it was always going to be worn over something, I could get away with knitting a shorter length which was more flattering and I don’t have to worry about it being more revealing than I’d like.

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A new wardrobe staple.

If you’re nervous about making a knit skirt, I definitely recommend this pattern. It was done as the winter KAL (knit-along) at my local yarn shop, Yarns Untangled. I got to see it in person on all shapes and sizes and it’s flattering on absolutely everyone! You can go in for bright colourways, or more neutral shades and it’s still gorgeous.

Until next time, happy knitting everyone!

 

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FO: Zauberball Socks

Technically it’s November 1st, but I think it still counts as a Socktober win. One pair of plain vanilla socks in Schoppel-Wolle’s Crazy Zauberball!  

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The yarn is so interesting by itself that I didn’t want to add a stitch pattern into the mix. The colours don’t repeat, so I have fraternal socks instead of identical twins.

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They’re soft even before blocking, so I have a feeling these ones are going to be worn a lot. The fact that they’re a combo of my favourite colours doesn’t hurt either.

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The next sock mission? Two at a time socks! Now I just need the right yarn…

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FO: Regency Blouse

It’s finished! It’s blocked! It’s been worn about town and deemed wearable! I’m still awash in shiny-new-FO love despite it being about two weeks old. It’s lasting a long time… normally I’m consider myself a process knitter and I really enjoyed the process of knitting this, but I fell in love a bit with the final product.
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I swear I love it, despite my awkward modelling…

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The neckline is a touch wider after blocking than I thought it would be, but it doesn’t slip off my shoulders so it works! I bought at least 1200 yards to make it but it took about 600 at most. Lots left over for a shawl in the future! I love the yarn – NBK l superwash merino in lavandula (great colourway name…) It’s a great summer top – warm enough for all but the warmest of days.

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I swapped out the picot bind off for a picot hem, which still lies flat and matches with the pattern but is a little more subtle. Other than that I didn’t change the pattern in any way. It’s the first project on Ravelry beyond the original one published in Jane Austen Knits, and I hope more people decide to make it. It’s a wonderfully clear pattern and the lace is surprisingly easy once you’ve done one repeat. If it’s your style, or someone in your life, I highly recommend making it!

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FO: Bloemen voor Daphne

Lots of people that see me knitting in public comment that they would LOVE to knit, but they just simply don’t have the patience. I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve given variations of my “I don’t knit because I have patience, I have patience because I knit” …but we are definitely in the double digits. Knitting is what keeps me patient in long lines, or when traveling. It’s what makes movies and TV shows not feel like a waste of time, and honestly helps me continue to pay attention if the knitting doesn’t become distractingly complicated. I recently knit an inch extra of stockinette stitch in the movie theatre that I had to rip back after (Age of Ultron, apparently the more intense the action movie, the faster I knit to cope.) I wasn’t even sad about the error – it was more time I got to spend with a very lovely yarn. More on that project later.

The point is that knitting is what soothes me. It’s what grants me patience and occasionally helps keep me looking like a semi-put-together human being in public.

It’s also something I do out of love for the people I love, so when casting around for something to accompany my next letter to Daphne I thought – oh I’ll knit a little something to tuck in with it. It’s too warm now for the hat I’ve promised her. It’s spring, maybe a little knitted flower? A couple maybe? That would be sweet. It will use up some of the scrap yarn I have (true) and it shouldn’t take very long (false. so false.)

So I set off to make a little knitted flower – or three. A nice bundle of three would do. I expected it to take about an evening, maybe two

It took a month.

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From not knitting the i-cord around the pipe cleaner, to reworking the shape of the petals out of fussiness (I wanted the middle one to be bigger?), this project was not remotely the straight forward little side event I thought it would be. Every time it frustrated me sufficiently I put it down, not wanting to knit those bad vibes into a gift. Frankly it’s a miracle they ever got finished. I cursed working half a dozen tiny stitches in the round, I cursed the i-cord, I cursed the little yellow stamen that took so many tries to tie properly. I cursed trying to hide all the little ends and I especially cursed the very very malleable pipe-cleaners for never bending quite as I wanted them too.

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Pictured above: tears. 

I cursed while trying to tie a ribbon around them so they looked pretty and had to resort to watching ribbon tying tutorials on Youtube. I can knit. I cannot craft, it seems.

But despite all this cursing, from beginning to end, the minute the last one was finished and they were finally tied up nicely I was awash in new FO glow. A good new finished object glow can erase everything I ever disliked about making the project, and this one was mighty strong. Look how cute they are! Adorable little blooms with their little stamen and stems. How could I possibly be frustrated with them? Every grumble I’ve listed seemed petty once I had the finished project sitting on my coffee table. These three flowers that rivalled a pair of socks in fiddly-ness, and a stockinette stitch sweater in patience were worth every bit.Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 10.46.26 PM

So this wasn’t a project that granted patience. In fact, it seemed to try and test it at every turn. I will try not to underestimate fiddly knitting ever again (success is unlikely, but I will try). This was the flip side to my usual knitting, but in some way it makes the final product even more worth it this time.

…and after having complained so regularly about “the pipe-cleaner thing” I know that by the time they reach their recipient, they may be a little squished in the post, but they will most certainly be appreciated.

Specifications:

PatternFlower – Bloem by Saartje de Bruijn (Dutch pattern for a Dutch friend!)

YarnKnit Picks Palette scraps in Eggplant, Celadon Heather and … probably Custard, I’m not sure…

Needles: 2.5 mm dpns.

Modification: To make the larger flower: Cable cast on: 36
(p3, k1, p5, k1, p2) 3 times. Repeat this round 3 times in total
(p2, CDD, p3, CDD, p1)
begin pattern as written.

Happy Knitting!

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The Calla sweater pattern is up!

I finished my lace cardigan test knit a few weeks ago, but I’ve been delaying this post until the actual launch of the pattern! I tested the cropped version in a size small and I couldn’t be more pleased with the results. Thanks to MKL for a wonderful first-test knitting experience, it was a lovely pattern and there was lots of support along the way (particularly when I didn’t understand the concept of congruent set-in sleeves…). So without further ado…here it is!

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I once considered joining the fronts, but I actually liked the lines in the end. I’m a touch self conscious of looking too skinny these days, so it sort of evens me out a little bit.

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The picot hem is a personal addition, that was easy to add into the pattern and I preferred it to the rolled sleeve.

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Once I got going with the lace it actually is very hypnotic. But, as I’ve posted about before mistakes were punished. Fortunately I made it to the end with my knitting sanity well intact and all the yarn overs in all the right places.

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It makes a nice way to wear my knitting in the summer, and so far it’s proven pretty popular with my friends. Mum even says she wants one over her own, which I’ve learned by now is actually the ultimate compliment from her on anything I make. It’s light, it’s cute, it’s feminizing, which I don’t really have in my wardrobe as much as I’d like, so that’s a plus. I imagine it would go nicely over a sundress. Of course…I’d have to own a sundress first…

Okay, time to get down to brass tacts:

Specifications!

Pattern: Calla by MKdesigns. Live today – go check it out!

Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Tea Rose, 335 yards.

Needles: Knit flat on 40″ circulars, 3.5 mm & 4 mm. In the end I really enjoyed working with the cotton, so I guess it’s a “getting used to it” thing. In fact, I think there may even be more cotton in my future. 🙂

I modified the sleeves to include a picot hem. Instructions for the modification are as follows:

Sleeve mod: Short rowed picot hem
When armpit depth is 7” end with WS row facing.
*Work in pattern to marker, sm, k to marker,
turn (RS facing) k to marker,
turn (WS facing) p to marker,
turn (RS facing) k2tog, yo repeat until 2 stitches before marker, k2tog
turn (WS facing) facing p to marker,
turn (RS facing) k to marker,
turn (WS facing) bind off as purl stitches, do NOT cut yarn and pull through final loop. Leave that stitch on the working needle, pick up and purl three stitches along short row edge. Remove marker
Repeat from * once more
Work in pattern until the end of the WS row.
Next round (RS facing) *Work in lace pattern to marker. Pick up and knit three stitches along short row edge, remove maker.
Repeat from * once more
Work remaining stitches in lace pattern.

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FO: Jane Barathea Mitts

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted about these fingerless gloves! They spent a while waiting for me to get out of the hospital, then the blocking/drying/mailing process took considerable time, too (for no particular reason), but they’ve finally arrived at their intended destination!

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The pattern is Jane’s Barathea Mitts by Angela Hahn from the Interweave Jane Austen Knits 2014. I really love the texture on these guys. The slip-stitch pattern makes them a little denser than usual and they’re actually worked wrong-side-out, and then reversed when you reach the lace portion. Meaning you spend most of the pattern with them looking like this:

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Until, in a moment of magical knitting trickery, they get flipped inside-out! (Photo taken pre-blocking. Note: block these like your life depends on it.)

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I really love the pebbled effect on the cuff from the slipped stitch pattern. The texture is supposed to be reminiscent of barathea fabric, which is a woven fabric with a twill weave.

The yarn is Knit Picks DK Superwash in Indigo Heather, which was lovely to work with and there is more red and blue hints in the yarn than the above pictures might suggest. The best representation of the colour variation is probably shown in this picture I took on Instagram:

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I added an additional 20 or so rounds before starting the lace portion for extra length because it looked like they were going to come out too short. Seems to have been the right call! Each glove was just under 50 g even with the extra pattern repeats. They are by far my favourite fingerless gloves that I’ve ever knit, (Nicole, they’re the only fingerless gloves you’ve ever– shhhhhhhh) and I would definitely recommend the pattern to anyone looking for a little Regency era style that’s still wearable today.

Or for any Austen fans with cold hands. 🙂

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Tale of a Toddler Sweater

My parents are a great number of wonderful things. They’re kind, caring, and funny people (at least, they seem to think they’re funny…) They make excellent food, wine and company. They both have great ideas, debates, and life perspectives.

But darn it, if they don’t make dreadful delivery people. (Hi, Mom! *waves*)

I went to visit my parents recently, only to discover that the (somewhat late Christmas) sweater for Jack, the very same sweater we’d sewn buttons on over a month was still sitting in the back seat of the van. Waiting. Patiently, in it’s little plastic bag. That kid is not getting any smaller, so I decided to take it with me, and mail it to them directly.

The pattern is a slight modification of Go Buffalo! by Terri Kruse. It’s my first “baby” sweater – though at 4T it’s seemed enormous. Of course anything would seem enormous if you elected to knit it in three coloured stripe. (WHY? I thought it would be cute. I was not wrong, but it was almost not worth it…) I was also in the hospital and had a semi-busted wrist at the time…

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Picking up the button band…slowly…

It was finished while I was still in the ICU of the hospital early this year and my memory from that time is kind of fuzzy. I kind of expected it to have some ridiculous flaw I hadn’t noticed…but it’s actually turned out okay:

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Once finished, I take back everything I ever said about hating the three colour stripe decision. It looks like a little Christmas elf sweater, and that was absolutely the goal. (I maintain every cuss word I ever uttered about decided to do it in acrylic yarn however. That stands.)

Now that I’m in possession of the sweater it’s being shipped off to Jack, who will hopefully not have grown out of it yet. Stay tuned…

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Gram and Her Vest

I’ve posted previously about my Dawyck Purple Vest but consider this an update on how Gram feels about it. My grandmother has become more…blunt in her old age and I don’t think she would mind me saying so. If she didn’t like it, I was probably going to hear about it. Fortunately she loves it.

She just won’t pose for photographs.

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“Can’t you see I’m drinking, dear?”

She likes her purple, my Gram. I’m told she wears it over white tops as well and all the ladies at her retirement facility fawn over it. Basically a dream come true for the little knitter in me.

I did manage a sneaky shot from the back.

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And I did finally get her to stop eating cheese and smile for me.

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But really – supper is far more important than knitting photos. 🙂

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A toast to my Gram – who has proven herself to be very very knit-worthy indeed!

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