Sunday, October 20, 2013

My new sweaters

We must be heading into the holiday season because I've just finished a red sweater and have now started a green one. I promise not to wear them together!

This week, I finished my Red Rondo and am pretty happy with it. It's the first time I've worked with Cascade 220 and I'm impressed, mostly by how well it blocks up. My only issue is that the red yarn bled like crazy during the blocking. It didn't effect the sweater or the other colors, but the two white bath towels I used to squeeze out the extra water are now permanently pink.

As you can see, I decided to forgo a button band and insert a zipper instead. I like the look, including the simplified line down the front. My only complaint is that the zipper is a little stiff. I may take it out and insert one with smaller teeth. We'll see how anal I end up being.

With this sweater, I used a variation on the shaping that worked well. I usually do princess seam shaping, as shown in the Bartok's Tunic I finished earlier this year. This shaping removes extraneous fabric and gives me a better fit. Usually I do two sets of shaping, one below the waist and one above.

But with the Rondo, I moved the upper shaping to the side seams. This removes the line that points to my boobs but still gives the same fitted effect to the bustline. I like it, at least for this sweater.

With both of these sweaters, I've gone back to a longer length. This has been a challenge for me over the past few years. I see the benefits of wearing sweaters that stop before the widest part of my hips, but this also means that my belly roll shows. I hate that! I find the longer sweaters much more comfortable to wear than sweaters like this, for example, something I made but have never worn.

With my Rondo, I also used more ease. Recently Julia Farwell-Clay mentioned to me that not all sweaters need to be fitted closely to the body, and I think she's right. I still don't like big, shapeless sweaters, but not every sweater needs to be shrink-wrapped to my body either. I knitted Rondo using this sensibility. I'm happy with the fit even from the back, although if someone could find a magic sweater that eliminates my mighty derriere, I'd be much obliged.

Now that the Rondo is finished, I've started on a new sweater that I'm very excited about; I call it Memories of Maine because I bought the yarn there on vacation. Tom and I stayed in mid-coast Maine for an absolutely sublime week of R&R.

During one foray, Tom carted me two hours south to Halcyon Yarns in Bath, Maine. I walked in to find endless floor-to-ceiling shelves with yarn galore. Woo hoo! But next to the cash register, the staff had just finished setting up a display of a brand new yarn called  Harrisville WaterSHED. The colors are OMG gorgeous. Harrisville describes the product: "soft-spun, minimally processed, cushy super-heathered woolen yarn." Exactly.

I promptly bought every single skein of green in the joint; they even went upstairs to recover one skein that had been snatched by the photographer to be photographed for their upcoming catalog. It's in the photo below.

I started looking for a pattern before I finished the Rondo and decided on Marilyn King's Cape Cod Cardigan. I wanted to make a traditional Scottish cabled sweater to celebrate my newly discovered heritage. As described on the Rav pattern page: "Knitted top down from the saddle shoulder, this cardigan features modified drop-shoulder sleeves- also knitted from the top down. The cable pattern is easy to memorize- the featured cable is simply offset to create an over pattern. Size adjustments are made by adding reverse stockinette stitches between the cables, so the design is well balanced in all sizes. Front and Neck bands are picked up and knitted."

I knew my new yarn would be perfect for this pattern. I loved the swatch right away, as well as the thistle buttons I found at Knit Picks (KnitPicks sells some great buttons, btw).

I've made good progress in just a couple of days of knitting. The cable pattern is indeed easy to memorize. I like the saddle shoulder construction, too. I knit two straps and then picked up stitches along the long side of one. Then I cast on stitches for the neck and then picked up stitches from the other band. Then I knitted downward in pattern to the underarm. I then picked up stitched on the other side of the strap and knitted downward for the right front of the cardigan. Note: no seams for you anti-sewers!

I was hoping to have my Rondo done by Thanksgiving - and now I'm hoping I can have Memories of Maine done by then, too. After that, my conundrum begins: which sweater do I wear to my family's gathering? This is what's known as a good problem to have. 


  1. Your Rondo is loverly!
    Yes, I like the longer length too.
    Oh, that yarn is yummy! Great pattern and the buttons are perfect.
    Take both sweaters to the family events and change halfway through! LOL!

  2. Definitely longer length for U.
    Al I can say is OMG!
    Wow! what an accomplishment.
    I bet it is like a shot in the arm to urge you on to making other custom fits after these past 2 sweaters> I know it is an encouragement to all of us Amples who follow the blog.

  3. Love the buttons for the new sweater!


  4. LOL at the magic sweater- let me know if you find one. Love love love the Rondo.

  5. That Harrisville yarn is wonderful! I love that heathered look - and SOFT too??? Wow. And you're such a genius! - finding those buttons! I'd love them all by themselves!! I vote with the fan that said 'Take them both, change midway!'

  6. Squee!!!!

    You look awesome in your new sweater. Oh Julie you must be so pleased and proud. Again you are an inspiration.

    And the new sweater yarn and pattern are a wonderful match. It's going to be another winner.

  7. Two new sweaters! Wow. Your Rondo looks terrific on you. Your Maine sweater looks like great fun. Cables are the greatest.

  8. Gorgeous! I especially love the color and buttons you chose for the scottish sweater. That's going to be fab.

  9. You are BEAUTIFUL in that rondo!

  10. Re the blue (?) short-sleeved sweater you say you've never worn -- first, is that the Bernat Leaf Top? (It's in my queue!)

    Second, I suspect if you added about three inches to the overall length, you'd wear it with delight in warmer weather.

    I had to be forcefully pried away from making EVERYTHING tunic-length -- a switch you've already made. But I still shy away from anything shorter than high-hip measurement. I think this top is probably right about navel-length on you.

    It's such a lovely color, and the lacework at the yoke and the gracefully rounded neckline draw attention to your pretty face. Come on -- take your own advice and make it fit you instead of leaving it to languish in the drawer!

    --Lynda in Oregon

  11. Rondo is just lovely! I like what you did with the moving the increase lines. And that green yarn is just dreamy! The swatch and button photo is the bomb, and I'm sure the sweater will be fab.

    Speaking of Christmas sweaters, what ever happened with the Chickadee Cardinals?

  12. Rondo is gorgeous! I'd love to see you wear it with a black knee-length pencil skirt, simple black top, and black boots with a high, chunky heel. C'mon, you CAN rock a skirt! I bought two from Lane Bryant. One solid black and one black/white houndstooth check (which you could wear with that amazing green sweater you're working on!).

  13. What a great post! I love the Rondo, and the new yarn. I have never even considered that a heathered yarn could be soft--gamechanger!!!! I'm looking very forward to your new sweater.

  14. LOVE IT! looks fabulous on you too!