Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Hiroic update

I'm busily slaving away at my Hiroic, aka Hiro by Julia Farwell Clay. I spent weeks working on the (very boring) stockinette body of this cardigan, knitting it once and discovering to my abject dismay that I'd screwed up the decreases. I frogged the entire body of the sweater and started over. SIGH.

But this time it's worked out perfectly. I decided to go with Julia's original hem which works better than the inch of ribbing I'd tried with the first version.

The truly unique colorwork fascinates me; it looks like a pixelated gradient to this graphic designer! Despite my professional expertise, I've struggled to come up with a palette that satisfies me; you may remember my first disastrous attempts. I settled on the gradient from aubergine to pink but I'm still not happy with the lightest color. I wish I could find the next shade up from the rose but I've spent hours looking for the perfect color to no avail. Today I decided to buy an extra skein of Ultra Alpaca in Pink Berry Mix, as shown on the right. I need to swatch, but I think I might like the more subtle coloration, even with the shift in tones. With the extra yarn, at least I can try it.

Last night, I finally got to knit some of the fantastic colorwork. I didn't know you could fall in love with a cuff, but I have. The gentle color shift embodies my original vision for this cardigan. Now I can't wait to finish the sleeves so I can get to the yoke.

And here's some good news! I'm happy to announce the winners for the two recent giveaways. Congratulations to Meghan (anythingbutsnow on Ravelry) who won Marly Bird's Simona Vest and Brenda (bchimomof3 on Ravelry) who won Deb Gemmell's Need a Plus Cardigan? book. Thanks to everyone, as always, for reading and participating!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New plus-size books - and a pattern giveaway, too

Good news abounds for the plus-size knitting community. Fall brings cooler weather - thank goodness! - and a variety of larger-sized pattern options, too. Today I present a small sampling of new collections, books, and patterns. And I'm also giving away a new pattern!

I've already told you about the new book from Cabin Fever's Deb Gemmell and Robin Hunter, Need a Plus Cardigan?. The Ravelry KAL began this week with much aplomb - over 150 intrepid knitters are now knitting a sweater that fits! For this group, participants may knit any sweater of their choosing from the book and make all the modifications needed and desired. It's not too late if you'd like to participate; visit the Rav group to sign up.

KnitPicks' latest collections offer patterns up to 64 inches.  I appreciate the company's efforts to support the larger among us, but given that I know so many ample knitters (myself included) who have purchased four million skeins of KP yarn, I mostly think it's time. My favorite of their new offerings: Kerin Dimeler-Laurence's Northern Lights, an e-book of five sweater patterns (plus a beautiful fair isle scarf and hat set) in sizes from 32-64 inches. Kerin possesses an incredible talent for stranded knitwear design,  including the Tuva, an extraordinary Bohus-inspired pullover created in fingering weight yarn on 1-1/2 needles. Now that would take me the rest of my life! But it would be worth it.

Sue McCain from Vermont Fiber Designs routinely designs her sweaters for larger sizes. She continues this tradition with her recently launched pattern website, Basix. The new line is, as she puts it, "dedicated to the design of only top-down set-in-sleeve patterns that are worked in Stockinette stitch. If you see a Basix pattern in a shop or online, you can be sure that it is 1) top-down, 2) set-in-sleeve, 3) worked in Stockinette stitch (except for the trim, of course), and 4) designed for sizes XXS to 6X or 7X." Basix begins with six yes-you-would-really-wear-these sweaters, including the Cambridge, a classic cardigan. I'm looking forward to making this myself because I know I'll wear it all the time. This design goes up to 72.75 inches. (My only complaint is that all the modeled sweaters are photographed headless - very strange, imho.)

If you're a crocheter, I have a great new plus-size pattern book for you:  Curvy Girl Crochet by Mary Beth Temple. "Full-figured women who love to crochet will rejoice in this fun, fresh, and pretty new book, Curvy Girl Crochet: 25 Patterns that Fit and Flatter. Instead of making adjustments to “average” sized patterns, this exciting guide celebrates larger women with 25 original crochet patterns designed specifically in plus sizes," the book notes say. I particularly like the Counterpoint Pullover, although I'd be tempted to knit the body and crochet the sleeves since I am a die-hard knitter. Mary Beth uses plus-size models in her book so you can actually tell how her designs would look on you.

Curvy Girl Crochet includes one pattern from ample-knitting-favorite, Marly Bird. Marly has been busy designing other pretty things, such as her new Simona, a shawl-collared, twisted stitch, button-down vest. Knitted in Aran weight yarn, this cold wardrobe staple knits up quickly and looks great with jeans.

To celebrate this cute design, I'm giving away a Simona pattern - free! Just leave a comment below and I'll send a randomly selected, lucky winner this pattern next week. 

To conclude, I believe the knitting industry is beginning to listen to the growing community of ample knitters. If you want more pattern options, be brave! Make a sweater and then photograph yourself modeling the design. Put it on Ravelry. Besides buying patterns and books in larger sizes, posting your sweaters on Ravelry is the best way to show the market that we do indeed knit for ourselves - and have money to spend, too.