Monday, January 31, 2011

Waltham KAL - Yarn needed for each size

An intrepid knitter asked, "Is it stated anywhere the yardage amount for the 56 1/2? I don't want to buy my yarn until I know how many skeins to get (dye lot). I only see the smallest and the largest sizes listed."

Excellent question. Here are the yardage needed for each size of the Waltham Cabled Cardigan. 

Finished Bust Size           Yardage Needed           
        40¼                                            1500 yards
        44¼                                            1680 yards
        48¼                                            1860 yards
        52¼                                            2040 yards
        56¼                                            2220 yards
        60¼                                            2400 yards

Remember that if you need lengthen or widen the sweater, you will need more yarn. If you have any Waltham-related questions, drop me a line or visit the Waltham KAL Ravelry group.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

More on the Waltham Knitalong

I've been working on the Waltham Knitalong. Come join our intrepid ample knitters as we make this beautiful, classic cabled cardigan designed by Kathy Zimmerman and published in the new book, Knitting Plus.

Here's the latest:

I've set up a Waltham KAL group on Ravelry. Please go join the group. We'll be able to post discussions, photos, and more, plus Kathy has agreed to join us there so you can ask her questions directly. If you don't have a Ravelry account, you can sign up for free and enter the wonderful online world of knitters. Frankly, if you don't have a Ravelry account, you don't know what you're missing. So sign up today.

If you don't want to join Ravelry but would still like to participate, please send me an email.

Start your gauge swatch. If you've selected your yarn and would like to get started with your gauge swatch, now you can. Kathy kindly provided us with the gauge swatch information. The pattern specifies the following gauge:
  • DK / 8 ply (11 wpi)
  • 24 stitches and 26 rows = 2 inches in rib pattern
  • US 7 - 4.5 mm
The ribbing stitch pattern is as follows:
K1, P3, K1, *P4, K2, P4, K1, P3, K1; repeat from *
Kathy makes the following suggestion regarding gauge:
I would cast on at least 35 sts and work the beginning 5 sts, then two repeats from * to *. Take the gauge measurement out of the middle area. I usually make a bigger gauge swatch, just to be sure (50 sts would work). Since the finished garments are probably plus-sized, the larger stitch count would yield a more accurate gauge.
This gauge information is available at the Ravelry group page, too.

That's the latest, girls. Just so you know, I'll be blogging about my experiences making the Waltham and give a summary of the KAL in general, so please keep coming back. If you have any questions, just let me know. I hope you'll join us!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Free pattern from Knitting Plus

Free pattern alert: Interweave today released a free pattern for the Farrington Pullover, the sweater that graces the cover Knitting Plus. Designed by the book's author, Lisa Shroyer, this top-down design features a stockinette body and a V-shaped cowl neck. The pattern goes up to a 64.5-inch finished bust size. Now we're talking, Interweave. Bring on the designs for the big girls!

Interweave released the pattern in conjunction with the Season 6 debut of Knitting Daily, the wonderful television program that airs on PBS (and records weekly on my DVR since it runs at 6:00 AM in DC). This is the best knitting show out there, so watch it if you can. The Farrington Pullover appears in the last episode of the season; watch a preview of the show below.

I found this photograph of series' host, Eunny Jang, with Lisa Shroyer who models her design. Isnt' it interesting to see the designer wearing her own sweater?

To download the free Farrington Pullover pattern, visit the Knitting Daily website. Other free patterns from the series are also available (note that this link goes to a Facebook page so you may need to have a Facebook account to view the gallery).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waltham Knitalong - the basics

Woo hoo! We've got several intrepid women who are willing to brave the wilds of the Waltham Cabled Cardigan. I'm too old to go hiking or caving, but I'm definitely game for this adventure. Yesterday I talked to the designer, Kathy Zimmerman, and she's willing to provide guidance when necessary so that we don't lose our way.

If you'd like to participate, here's what you need to do:

Pre-order, order, or buy Knitting Plus. The official publication date is March 1 but I suspect this book will pop up in a local yarn store near you in the coming weeks.

Select your yarn. This pattern calls for a DK weight yarn that knits up on size 7 needles (your needles size may vary). The yarn specified in the pattern is Louet Eastport Alpaca Yarn. I'm listing some other options that I might consider for this sweater, but there are many others.

70% alpaca (Huacaya & Suri), 30% merino
150 yards/75g  

50% alpaca, 50% merino
 This is what I'm using for my Waltham.

50% Acrylic/40% Wool/10% Nylon

I might also consider Cascade 220 Sport, Wool of the Andes Sport, Valley Yarns Northfield, or Classic Elite Moorland. But again, there are many, many more. The most important thing is that you can meet the gauge requirement, but you already know that. The gauge requirement is not terribly helpful without the pattern but here it is anyway: 24 stitches and 26 rows = 2 inches in rib pattern.

In terms of yardage, you'll need 1500-2400 yards depending on your size; sizes range from 40¼, 44¼, 48¼, 52¼, 56¼, 60¼ inch finished bust size. I'll be making mine larger than the pattern calls for in the hips. If you need to make alterations to fit you, let me know and we'll figure it out your needed modifications.

By the way, Kathy Zimmerman would be happy to sell you the book - she'll even autograph it for you! - and yarn. She should be able to get you anything you need other than Knit Picks yarn (you'd have to buy that directly from Knit Picks). Call Kathy's Kreations at 724-238-9320 to order.

Get ready to knit! We'll start the KAL in the middle of March; stay tuned for more details. BTW, you will knit at your own pace. This isn't a marathon or a competition. It's just a supportive trek into the knitting wilderness where everyone is promised to come back alive. :-)

Let me know. If you'd like to participate, please leave a comment here or contact me directly at Looking forward to this, intrepid knitting gal pals!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Up in arms

I'm up in arms! Don't worry. There's nothing inflammatory about today's posting. I just wanted to show you the sleeve I finished over the weekend for my Early Bird Special Cardigan.

As always, I started with the sleeve. This is a Kathy Zimmerman tip and an excellent one at that. By beginning with the sleeve, you can practice the stitch pattern and check your gauge, too. I breeze through the rest of a sweater after I've completed the first sleeve. For example, I can now literally knit this stitch pattern with my eyes closed. Unfortunately, the yarn is a bit splitty so I've got to pay attention. Just as well, right?

I'm planning my next project while I'm working on this one. I want to make that Waltham Cardigan I showed you last time, the one that Kathy Zimmerman designed for the upcoming book, Knitting Plus. Anyone else up for a knit-along? I'm sure I can get Kathy to weigh in and offer advice as we go. Leave a comment here or write me offline if you'd like to participate. We'd start in mid-March after the book is released. My current plan is to (yet again) use my favorite yarn of all time, Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light, this time in Blue Violet. I've already got plenty in my stash so this will be a free project (ah, the joys of flawed, delusional thinking).

Let me know if you'd like to play in this KAL sandbox. I promise we'll have fun! And never get sand in our shoes either.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New ample patterns: The Waltham Cabled Cardigan

Did you know that next month Interweave Knits will release a new plus-size knitting book, Knitting Plus - Mastering Fit + Plus-Size Styling? (You may remember that I wrote about this book in October and December). This is the first book of ample patterns published by Interweave. Now go out and buy it so that it won't be the last!

Here's how Interweave describes the book:
With Knitting Plus, you’ll explore basic pullover and cardigan styles, including raglans, set-in sleeves, drop shoulders, seamless yokes, and dolmans in 15 stylish projects. Knitting Plus thoroughly outlines each element of the garment, while offering key tips on sweater measurements and tailoring for a custom fit. Included throughout are simple, easy-to-use templates of each construction type to make alterations and adaptations quick and simple.
Many months ago, Kathy Zimmerman, my personal knitting guru, told me she'd submitted a design for Knitting Plus. She described it as cabled and shawl collared, but she didn't have a photograph so I was left to imagine the design for myself. Imagine my delight when she sent me three pictures of her beautiful sweater, the Waltham Cabled Cardigan. I absolutely LOVE it.

Knit in Louet Eastport Alpaca, the Waltham Cabled Cardigan features, as Kathy says, "rope cables in grid-like panels combined with ribs for an eye-catching, elongating, vertical look. The modified drop shoulders, V-neck styling, and a three-button closure add a casual sporty touch. The dramatic 1x1 ribbed shawl collar balances the lower body and textured graphics of the cables. The luxurious alpaca-blend yarn provides drape and softness for a classic "sweatery" feel."

Kathy always says that great finishing turns a homemade sweater into a handmade one and she's right. Just look at this shoulder! I thought I was a pretty good finisher, but I'm wrong. This beautiful seam gives me something to aspire to.

Knitting Plus will be released in February 2011. Pre-order your copy from Amazon today.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New ample patterns: Norah Gaughan Collection Volume 8

Perhaps our eternal call for larger sizing is finally being heard by the knitting industry. Today I'll share a new pattern collection offered in plus sizes. I've got several other new ample designs to tell you about over the coming days, too.

I'm delighted with Norah Gaughan's latest book of spring and summer garments. Named appropriately Norah Gaughan Collection Volume 8, this offering serves up some real beauties. My personal favorite: the cover design, Schwaan, with a finished bust size of 58 inches. Made double-stranded with Berroco's new DK cotton and linen blend, Linsey, this quick-to-knit pullover is near the top of my queue.

Norah's new book offers several transitional cardigans such as the lacey Nidden, also knitted in Linsey. Nidden's largest finished size is almost 60 inches and features a stunning lace design across the back.

Another gorgeous cardigan: the Peterborough. I wouldn't be wearing it with a chunky belt, but that's because I'm chunky! But I can definitely see myself wearing this unusual, lace-adorned sweater. The sweater's largest finished bust size is 54 inches with a finished hip size of 62 inches, but this design sports lots of waist shaping, too.

I love Ongonquit, a simple cabled cardigan, which comes in a finished 54-inch bust and 58-inch hips. The sloping cable design, both unique and beauteous, makes a great laying piece for warmer spring days and cool summer nights.

The new Norah Gaughan collection offers two linen/cotton scarves, a couple of cabled pullovers, and some other patterns, too. I bought my copy the minute I saw it on Ravelry. Thank you, Norah, for giving the larger among us some lovely things to knit this spring.

More new ample patterns coming later this week... stay tuned! 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Successful sweater surgery

Today let's talk about how I altered a way-too-big sweater to fit perfectly.

To review, I made my beloved boyfriend, Tom a sweater for Christmas. Despite my very best efforts, it ended up being huge. VERY HUGE. At least in places. Instead of reknitting it from scratch, I decided to alter it - despite the fact that every knitter I know thought I was absolutely nuts for trying. The only person who believed I was up to this task was Tom - who of course doesn't know a damn thing about knitting.

The photos below show the sweater prior to initial seaming. I should have known this sweater would be too big and too long. Look at the copious amounts of fabric in the back and the almost-tunic length.

Regardless, I kept going. Why? Because my boyfriend insisted that he MUST wear a 54-inch sweater even though we'd just bought him a 46 Long suit. He thinks he should be broader shouldered than 46 inches. I think I should wear a size 0 but all the magical thinking in the world doesn't make that happen, does it? I should have used my common sense. I should have known. My big guy isn't THAT big a guy (even if he is 6'4 and weighs 210 pounds).

So, with Christmas rapidly approaching, I finished the sweater, blocked it, and marveled at my work. You've got to admit, it's beautiful. Then I wrapped it up and hoped for the best.

Christmas morning, Tom opened his gift and dutifully tried on the fateful sweater. The good news: it fit his neckline just fine. The bad: it hung like a dress. The drop shoulders fell to his elbows. The fabric billowed in the back. The photo you see here has all the extraneous fabric pulled back and fastened with a double-pointed needle! This baby was HUGE.

Aargh... I needed a plan. The last thing I wanted to do was reknit the damn thing. God, anything but that!!! After lots of analysis and cogitation, I decided that I could alter this sweater. If the neckline hadn't fit, I'd have had to gut it. But grace of God, the neck fit just fine.

I could also alter this garment because it is a drop-sleeve sweater. The body is essentially two large rectangles attached at the shoulders with some neck shaping. The original design doesn't have armscyes (the curve put under the arms to eliminate the extraneous bunchy fabric that results from drop-shoulder sweaters) which made it much easier to alter.

So... here's how I rescued Tom's sweater:

1. I unraveled the seams and cut the sleeves off the body.

2. I realized (after a sage comment from a blog reader) that if I cut several inches off both sides of the body, that the sleeves would be too short. I cut off the sleeve ribbing, picked up the stitches, knit down two inches in plain stockinette, and then reknitted the ribbing. The photo below shows the altered sleeves.

3. Next, I shortened the sweater by cutting 1.5 inches above the ribbing, picking up the stitches, and then reknitting the ribbing.

4. Next up: fixing the width. Using black yarn, I basted in two inches on the sides of both the front and back. This represented where I would sew and steek the sweater.

5. Then I got an excellent suggestion from my own personal knitting guru, Kathy Zimmerman. She suggested I modify the bodice by making the sweater a partial drop sleeve. She recommended taking Tom's crossback measurement - the width between his shoulders - and then cutting the sweater to this measurement. This alteration makes the sweater hang better at the shoulders and eliminates some of the extraneous fabric underneath the arms. Brilliant idea. So I basted in another line on the upper back to match the width of his crossback measurement.

6. Using the sewing machine, I sewed along the black basting lines twice to ensure that the sweater pieces wouldn't unravel.

7. Then, holding my breath, I cut to the outside of the black basting line.

8. When I was finished, I had a resized sweater body. It looked better already.

9. At this point, I felt like I'd better hedge my bets, so I finished each side with a crochet chain stitch. Better safe than sorry. God forbid the thing unravels!

10. I then sewed the sleeves to the sweater and seamed up the sides. Moment of truth! For the hundreth time, I held my breath. Would it fit? Like a glove? The answer to this question is a very hearty YES!!!

11. I blocked the sweater, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and best of all, started on my Early Bird Special Cardigan.

As you can see, the biggest change in the fit is through the shoulders. The drop shoulders now fall to an appropriate length and the sleeves still fit perfectly. These alterations prove Kathy Zimmerman's theory that the secrets to a well-fitting sweater are the crossback and shoulders.
Now, all I can say is: WHEW. I'm glad it worked; I certainly could have failed miserably and ended up with a giant pile of completely usable yarn. I'm feel like I've earned a master degree in sweater alterations - and merited confidence, too. I hope you glean some wisdom from my fire drill. I hope I do, too. ;-)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Early Bird update

Hopefully I'll have time later today to talk about altering Tom's sweater, but in the meantime I wanted to show you my latest project.

I'm thrilled to be working finally on my Early Bird Special Cardigan. Based on an unpublished stitch pattern designed by Kathy Zimmerman, this sweater features a brand new, absolutely gorgeous alpaca/merino blend soon to be released by Kraemer Yarns. I bought the first 12 skeins ever sold! I started working on the pattern last fall but got waylaid by my boyfriend's Christmas present sweater. I went back to see Kathy a week or two ago and finalized the pattern. Now I'm working on the first sleeve. Isn't it beautiful? And of course sleepy Moosie is, too. :-)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A quick hello

Just wanted you to know that I haven't forgotten you. I'm just working on something big, something very exciting. More soon when I'm allowed to share the details.

And speaking of details, I still owe you a complete tutorial on how to hack up a too-big sweater and have it actually fit your boyfriend (or your own body for that matter). More soon on that, too. Stay tuned, girls...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A perfect fit

I know, I know... most of you were immensely skeptical that I could fix the sweater I made for my boyfriend for Christmas - and I don't blame you. The sweater, despite my best efforts, was too long and too big by a very long shot.

I spent the week between Christmas and New Years in an mighty quest to fix this sweater. I cut, cropped, added, subtracted, persevered, and prayed - my toil and trouble paid off. As Tom said when he pulled this work of love and hope over his head, "It's a perfect fit." (Click on the picture twice for a larger view; the sweater still needs to be blocked, but you'll get the idea.)

I've taken pictures of everything I did - and it was a lot. I'll document my efforts here in the next day or two. But tonight, I'm just celebrating. Whew!