In my last post I talked about tension, why it’s important and how to do it properly. In this one I’m sharing two projects that inspired me to swatch. In that post I mentioned that it’s a great idea to upload your swatch data to your Ravelry account for posterity, which is already proving handy today as I’m writing from home, without my swatch at hand! All the patterns today are beginner friendly, accessible and affordable.
This is the pattern that got me swatching, Over Easy. I thought it would make a great, quick ‘n easy fall knit, especially for the less experienced knitters. It’s knit in the round from the bottom up, the upper front and back are each worked flat, the shoulders are seamed, and then the sleeves are picked up and knit from the top-down. It’s worked up on BIG needles, and the yarn is fuzzy and hides a multitude of sins.
The yarn I was testing out is Drops Melody, a super soft, light and fluffy blend of alpaca and wool. What I really love about this yarn is that it looks like a bulky mohair, but it feels like a baby’s bum! Seriously, every time I touch a ball I’m shocked that it doesn’t have new-baby smell. The reason I was testing it was because I recognized that it would look great worked holding multiple strands together, but I didn’t precisely know how it would respond on different sized needles, or the difference between holding two or three strands together. It turns out my first instinct was right, I think this pattern would work best with12mm/US17 needles and holding two strands together. If you find you knit tightly on larger needles (some people do, but I don’t) then you’ll want to go up to a 15mm/US19 needle.
Sizes: 1 (2, 3, 4)
Body circumference: 64 (69, 76, 76)”
Sleeve length: 8.5 (8.5, 7.5, 7.5)”
Length from shoulder to bottom: 18 (18, 21, 23)”
Use the following as a general guide for sizing based on bust measurement:
This is the other sweater that got me swatching, Kelowna. This one is knit in the round from the top-down, and is approachable to everyone- at any knitting level. For this sweaterI’d use two strands held together and whatever size needle gets you gauge (my swatch was closest with a 9mm/US13, but you might want go bigger … it’ll be a great opportunity to practice checking your tension!
This might be my next COVID sweater (I haven’t been especially prolific), but I’m not sure which colour …maybe the petrol green?
I finished my Cruz Bay crochet cardi! It turned out really nicely, it’s a great summer top, I’m very happy with it and wearing it in the store.
It wasn’t a crazy hard piece, but I’d say it was an advanced beginner to intermediate level of crochet pattern. I used a larger hook because my tension was looking too tight in the pattern stitch (luckily you start the pattern from the bottom of the sleeve so it sort of serves as an opportunity to check your tension). I had a few pattern questions that needed clarification and the designer, Donna Yacino, was incredibly fast and helpful. I put my modifications& details in my Ravelry Notes. Keep reading for more details from my project experience.
Berroco Estiva is a soft, machine washable 100% cotton, made in Italy. It works up in a gradient, from light to dark (or vice versa). It was easy to crochet with and worked up reasonably fast (for a tape yarn). I used 2.5 cakes of yarn for the smallest size. Each sleeve/side used its own cake of yarn. I started from the dark end of the cake and worked to the light. I used the remnants from the sleeves/sides to start work on the medallions around the neck and then started my third cake at the light end.
Shown in size 36 this blog post (my finished size ended up: 40″ body circumference, 12″ sleeve cuff circumference, 16″ upper sleeve circumference. My tension was 3 stitch pattern repeats & 14 rows = 4″/10cm)
Berroco Estiva: 3 (3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5) cakes (shown in colour 2621 emerald in this blog post)
I didn’t always find the pattern instructions incredibly, explicitly clear … I don’t know if it was my limited experience with crochet sweater patterns or because the pattern was written during COVID and the designer and editors were totally stressed – either way Berroco and Donna Yacino were both great.
The instructions for the rows on the body were a bit vague and I kind of fudged it (crochet is more flexible than knitting, you can do this … and after previously emailing Donna twice I decided she had earned a break) except I didn’t really keep track of what I did on the first side … and then COVID brain kicked in. As you can see in the picture above, it’s a good idea to write down what you did. I didn’t. Ooops. My general approach to this project was “Does it look like the picture? Good enough!” I am very appreciative to Apple for making it possible for me to embiggen images on my iPad.
FYI: If you decide to make this pattern with another yarn I strongly suggest you swatch first.
Ron’s Patterns Review
My beau, Ron, is sitting next to me while I write this blog post and he doesn’t understand why I have so much to discuss. His review: “I sat next to her and she didn’t swear at all during it, so I’m guessing it’d be good for an advanced beginner or low level intermediate.” Sage words.
I’ve been looking forward to this pattern since my sales rep visited last winter … I even bought extra yarn in my first order hoping I’d be able to get my greedy little hands on the pattern early. That didn’t end up happening, but that’s ok, better late than never! It’s a casual crochet cardie made with Berroco’s lurvly summer yarn Estiva. Estiva is a really versatile yarn; it’s a soft cotton tape, easy to work with, machine washable, and made in Italy. The colours range from muted to bright, so you’ve got lots of options.I don’t personally look great in yellow, but I can’t get my head around this sweater in it, it’s just so perfect! I was going to make it in the teal, but now I don’t know …
After we finished the Felix Pullover I wanted to try the cardigan version of the sweater for myself, as a store sweater (as opposed to my home sweaters, or commuting sweaters – those are completely different categories of sweater). I was kind of dawdling, so it took me a while to complete, but it’s actually a very quick knit and I don’t think others would have a hard time getting through it. I also learned a few news things along the way! I love learning new things!!!
Fit & Style
So the style is a bit oversized and is supposed to fit with positive ease, and I’d describe the style as demure. I made the smallest size and it’s plenty roomy – after blocking it is 42″ in circumference in the bust (buttoned). The neckline is designed wide, and if you do a sewn/tubular bind-off it will be even wider (I’ll talk more the bind-off below) – which might be good if you have narrow shoulders like me. The fit feels cozy, comfy, and casual, and I don’t feel like you can see much body underneath, partly because of the design and the yarn I used (Cascade Eco+ Merino). There isn’t any shaping through the body, but if some A-line shaping suited you it would be very easy to include.
Things I like: 1. It makes my shoulders look bigger. 2. It looks good over a t-shirt, with skinny jeans . 3. It isn’t too warm. 4. It’s roomy for puffy days.
Things I don’t like: 1. It’s oversized so my shape gets lost (I always feel a bit lost in oversized garments).
After seeing clients make a few gorgeous Carbeths we made the Felix Pullover with Cascade Eco+ Merino, and since I wanted some new colours in my wardrobe this winter so I gave this pretty periwinkle blue/purple a go. Cascade Eco+ Merino is a soft, springy 100% South American merino wool, made in Bolivia. Its spongy, springy and has a ton of body and memory. I think it would hold texrure beautifully and make a dynamite cabled scarf or cowl.
The yarn was soft and easy to work with, and a nice quality at a good price. It wet blocked well, but it really looked fantastic after a good steaming. It’s a neutral feeling yarn, and I think it’s great for the price (by ‘neutral’ I mean it doesn’t feel like it was made from sacred sheep and spun in a mill run by Disney princesses, employing a unionized workforce of well paid small animals and home accents with a background in musical theatre). If you want an “OMG, did vestal virgins knit this sweater?!” experience treat yourself to some Malabrigo Mecha or Diamond Luxury Baby Alpaca Sport, you won’t regret it.
MALABRIGO MECHA: This hand dyed, incredibly soft singly ply merino wool would hands-down make the MOST Stunning cardigan EVER! 6(7, 7, 8, 9) skeins would make a cardigan you’ll never want to take off. I’d opt for one of the semi-solid colourways, otherwise you’ll lose the pretty lace detail in the shoulders.
DROPS AIR: The pattern was originally written to be a looser knit on an aran weight yarn that blooms. If you want to try a lighter or airier version, try super soft Drops Air: 4(5, 6, 6, 7) balls. This would would make a sensational spring pullover which would look great over a tank top, or be a great sweater for warm climates and for people who run warm. This is also a super affordable option, running from $40 to $70 (depending on size).
BERROCO VINTAGE CHUNKY: For a machine washable sweater or something for someone who is extra itchy or allergic, I’d go with Berroco Vintage Chunky: 5(6, 7, 7, 8) skeins. Vintage Chunky is also a pocket-book friendly choice, running from $50 to $80 for the project (depending on size).
QUNICE & CO KESTREL: Do you winter down south or live in a warm climate? I don’t, but if I did I’d go for an aran/chunky weight, machine washable linen like Quince & Co Kestrel: 9(10, 12, 13, 14) skeins. NOTE: Linen is VERY stretchy and you can probably go down one or two sizes from what you would normally wear.
Felix is supposed to fit a little bit oversized and casual. I made the first size, which is a small but fits oversized and loose.
S(M, L, XL, XL2)
Circumference at bust at underarm: 39 (43 ½, 48, 52 ½, 57)”
Length from right front cast on to right neck edge: 22 (24, 25, 27, 28)”
At the very start of this wall-o-text I mentioned that I learned things, so here are my learnings!
1. Sewn/Tubular Bind Off is STRETCHY
The pattern suggests using a tubular bind-off, but you can use any kind of bind off you like. I figured I would give the Tubular-Bind off a go to see how it worked out, what it’s benefits and deficits were. Just to make sure we are on the same page, I used THIS TUTORIAL for a Long Tail Tubular Bind-Off.
At first the sewn bind-off looked like it would pull-in a lot and I’d have problems maintaining the shape of the garment. I think if you did the bind-off too tight this could end up being a problem, but at a normal or loose tension it is definitely not a concern. I did not really understand how stretchy this bind off can be until I wet blocked the sweater, at which point it really went to town! The bind-off edge was most sensitive on the front button bands and the neck-line, the edge on the cuffs was the most resilient. To get them back into shape I gave them a good steam, but the neck-line might need reinforcing down the line.
Benefits of a Tubular Bind-Off: 1. It makes a nice edge. 2. It’s very stretchy.
Deficits of a Tubular Bind-Off: 1. It takes time and patience, since it’s basically grafting/Kitchener stitch. 2. It’s very stretchy.
Conclusions: Pick your poison. I would probably do it again for the sleeve cuffs and the bottom of the sweater, possibly for the button bands, but definitely not for the neck.
2. Steam is Good!
I bought a little hand-held garment steamer on Amazon and I really like it! The stitches all fell into place beautifully, the places where the fabric had stretched bounced back, and the fibre looks great. I am now pro-steamer garment blocking. (BTW, did you know that Amazon has a discount section called Warehouse Deals? I think it’s stuff people have returned, so mostly opened boxes and superficially blemished products.)
3. The Perfect Sweater
I’ve been mulling around ideas about my understanding of perfectionism, which seems to be something that comes into play when people are learning. I don’t know if I’ve nailed anything down yet, but I definitely see that I’ve been carrying around some perfectionist ideals, and they really hold me back and keep me from feeling satisfied. When I make a sweater for myself I usually have a subconscious fantasy desire, I want it to be perfect, which for me means it’s my favourite thing EVER. I made this sweater to explore a bit (and have a new sweater), and part of that exploration was how I feel about pursuing things that aren’t absolutely phantasmagorical. At no point was this sweater a “This is going to be my favourite sweater EVER” type of project, and that’s really forced me to put myself outside of the safe and familiar. Don’t get me wrong, its a good sweater, and a nice sweater, I’m wearing it right now and you’ll see me wearing it around the store on a regular basis, but it isn’t my fantasy sweater. But who knows, maybe I’ll come to love wearing it around the store, and it’ll be my favourite store sweater? Maybe I’ll make another? Or maybe it will help me to try something new, and then another thing that’s new, and then a whole bunch of new new things until “favourite” takes on a whole new meaning to me? Maybe this wasn’t so much a “Learning” as a “Growing”?
Rosie finished her Adrift cardigan last week and I wanted to show you how gorgeous it is! The yarn, Urth Uneek Fingering (ON SALE NOW!) is absolutely gorgeous, the striping turned out beautifully for both the arms and the body.
The pattern isn’t specifically intended to be worn oversized, but you know how mannequins are – one size fits all. The pattern is written from the top down, so it’s easy to make it as large or small as you like, and the sleeves can be short, 3/4, or long, it’s super simple to make adjustments.
If stripes aren’t your thing you can also make it in a solid, semi-solid, or variegated colourway, so you can substitute any fingering weight yarn (the number of skeins required would be the same as in the materials below).
I’m sorry it’s been so long since you’ve heard from us, I’ve had the Flu for what seems like an ETERNITY! While I’ve spent a good amount of my spare time dosed to the gills with Dayquil/NyQuil, I’ve managed to get a few things finished … including this sweater, Paprika.
I love the look of mohair, but I don’t love the itchy feel, so I’ve been doing some experimenting with Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk. It looks like mohair, but it feels like happy. Plus, it’s light as air! I made Paprika with two strands held together, on 8mm/US11 needles. It was a fast and easy knit, worked in one piece from the bottom-up, so no seaming – nothing fussier than picking up stitches.
The style is oversized and roomy. I made a medium but I could have easily made a small. It was definitely an affordable knit, coming in under $50 (I used 8 skeins of Drops Brushed Alpaca and Silk).
When you’re ready to make yours you should definitely take a look at our pattern notes on Ravelry, I found a few quirks with the pattern and noted my modifications & etc. I also feel that the sleeves are way too long and I’d make them several inches shorter. Other than that, I’m pretty pleased with the results!
S(M, L, XL)
Finished Bust Circumference: 45(48, 41, 54.5) inches or 112(120, 128, 136) cm
Check out my new Carbeth Cardigan – I just finished blocking it, and it’s definitely a win. It was relatively quick, and I only used two skeins of Cascade Eco Peruvian Tones, so the price tag isn’t precious. I would totally make this sweater again, and in fact, I was so impressed with the design that we’re offering it as a class this February!
The fit is great! I made the second size and it fits true to a size small (sometimes with sweaters with a lot of ease through the body it’s hard to tell which size will fit. I wasn’t sure the decorative detail in the shoulder would make me happy (diagonal lines in that area don’t always flatter petite shoulders) but I was very happy and surprised to find that they made my tiny shoulders look great! It’s hard to see on the mannequin because it has even less shoulder than I do, but the lines are very elegant. I think the sweater will look great with a high waisted pant like a trouser cut (unfortunately, another garment my mannequin doesn’t wear well).
A small note about the colour of my yarn – it is not supposed to stripe or knit in blocks of colour. There seems to have been a problem with the dye lot I used, which was actually from last year’s stock. It looks like the dye was more saturated in part of the skein. After I figured out what was happening I decided to go with it – I wasn’t in the mood to rip it all back, so I figured I’d take a leap of faith, thinking it might look interesting or add something aesthetically. I think it did.
Check Your Gauge
I swatched A LOT to make sure my tension was accurate. My tension may not be what yours is, so PLEASE swatch and measure your gauge before casting on! The needles I used may not be the right size for you. The pattern called for 6.5mm/US10.5 needles, but I ended up going down to a 5.5mm/US9 to get the right tension.
To measure your gauge, you want to knit a square approximately 6 inches x 6 inches in the stitch that the pattern suggests (if they say their tension is in stocking stitch, then do that). Wash your swatch in cold water with a delicate wash like Eucalan or Soak, and lay it flat to dry. Then, on a hard surface with a ruler, measure the number of stitches and rows inside 4 inches/10 cm in the centre of the piece. DO NOT cast on the number of stitches that are stated in the pattern gauge, this will make a swatch that is too small to measure your tension accurately. How many stitches should you cast on for a swatch? Take the number of stitches in the pattern’s recommended tension (ex. 14 sts = 4″/10cm) and multiply it by 1.5 … so if the tension is 14 stitches you should cast on about 21 stitches. Also, always swatch with the same needles you are going to knit with – people’s tension can change with their comfort level with different types of needles.
We’re clearing out some summer yarns that we aren’t bringing back, so grab it on sale before it’s gone!
CLEARANCE 30% OFF DMC Natura XL
DMC Natura XL is a bulky weight, machine washable 100% cotton yarn, and is especially great for baby & kid projects, fast sweaters, blankets pillows and afghans, as well as crocheted baskets and other home decor projects.
We just finished a VERY quick & satisfying summer quickie, our Instant Gratification Cardi! We used a thick & quick cotton, DMC Natura XL, and 8mm/US11 needles – can’t go wrong with big needles! Also, because the yarn is thicker than the one the pattern was originally conceived with, we went down about 4″ in size (we made the 34″ size and got a 38″ size). If you want the sleeves longer, definitely buy an extra skein of yarn.
I know it’s really hard for a lot of people to visualize what a yarn will look like knit up, especially when it is a self-patterning or self-striping yarn likeUrth Uneek Fingering. So as my friend Rosie has progressed on the above cardigan, I’ve thought a lot of people would like to see what it can look like. The thickness of the stripes and the exact pooling are of course dependent on the number of stitches cast on, but I think this gives you a good idea of what the yarn can do. I especially love the ‘pooling’, The stripes are kind of groovy and random, a bit missoniesque. The pattern is Adrift, a simple, unstructured top-down cardie with swingy fronts – the perfect canvas for a stunning yarn. Thank you for sharing your beautiful sweater with us Rosie!!!
Why am I showing you this lovely warm, wool sweater in the middle of August? Because I just noticed that the price of Cascade Eco+ Peruvian Tones is going up this fall, and I’d figured I’d give you a head start. If are thinking about making something in this yarn, like the Carbeth cardigan below, NOW is a great time to pick up the yarn, while it’s still at last year’s price. The cardigan in the pictures is colour 06 Ebony, you only need 2 skeins, and you’ll be saving yourself ten bucks!
This cardigan is intended to be wide, cropped, and to hang bell-like from the shoulders. To fit as shown, it should be knitted with at least 10cm / 4in positive ease at the bust. Pick the size at least 10cm / 4in above your actual bust measurement, and if in doubt, select the next size up. Length can easily be added to the sweater to make it less cropped.
Finished measurement at bust: 95 (104, 112.5, 124, 135, 143.5, 152.5)cm or 37½ (41, 44½, 49, 53½, 56½, 60)”