Friday, March 22, 2013

New KAL, new pattern

I'm excited to announce a new KAL for a great new pattern that comes in large sizes, too. Meet Mindy, a worsted-weight cabled cardigan released this week by one of my favorite designers, Julia Farwell-Clay.

You know Julia - from me, if nothing else! She is the creative mind behind the Bartok I'm currently making, as well as my Hiro Cardigan and the much beloved Takoma which I also hope to finish one of these days. Many of your know the innovative Mork Pullover, too. I was going to make this one but decided the ribbing would curl under my belly too much (a personal problem - it works perfectly for everyone else). Here are the sleeves I made for each of these sweaters (love this graphic, btw).

The Mindy is the companion sweater to the Mork. It also features strong, angular cables, but this time in a long, slimming cardigan. The generous sizing accommodates everyone from 35.5 inches to 61 inches (yes, say a hallelujah for Julia, a wonderful designer for larger women). Mindy also features a gentle A-line which gives those of us with more in the caboose a little room to move.

In terms of construction, Julia describes the cardigan thus:

The sweater is knit using traditional construction, worked as pieces and seamed although knitters are free to knit the front and back seamlessly. The set-in sleeves are worked in the round to the underarm bind-off. The collar is knit using short rows to incorporate front placket stitches, and finished with an i-cord edging. Collar can be worn up for a Mandarin effect... or folded over.
Julia knitted the original in the sumptuous Lorna’s Laces Haymarket, a 100% Blue Faced Leicester in a color called The Skyway. Like everything else from Lorna's Laces, I've heard nothing but rave reviews.

Now, about the KAL. We begin Friday, April 19. That gives you time to pay your taxes, finish whatever you are knitting now, and be ready to start a glorious new project, too. To sign up, simply visit the Mindy KAL on  the Julia Farwell-Clay Rav Group. We'll be posting yarn possibilities, swatches, and the like, and can answer your questions, too. Julia will be chiming in along the way, so you can talk to her about your project, too.

I've already swatched for my Mindy (I've been out sick much of the week, but I was able to muster a swatch). I'm using the merino/cashmere Knit Picks Capra I was going to use to make the Mork - my Mork and Mindy truly are companions. I love how sculptural the cables look in merino wool, especially in this glorious Celestial blue. Truly spectacular.

I also scored some fabulous lampwork glass buttons from an artist in Israel. They'll be perfect, I think.

I'm excited about adding Mindy to my wardrobe. But I need to finish the Bartok first - and get better, too. Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Rolling downhill

Whew, what a miserable week. What started as a scratchy throat blossomed into full-fledged flu by the weekend and then barreled free-fall to pneumonia. Could you hear me hacking up a lung in Montreal? I wouldn't be surprised. God bless my beloved Dr. Kwon for rescuing me with heavy-duty meds and lots of kindness. I'm feeling a little better already.

A quick update on my projects. I slog on with my Bartok. I'm in the middle of acres and acres of white stockinette - oh my God, it's like driving on the Ohio Turnpike in foggy gray snow. Unending.

My only salvation is that I'm trying some new shaping to adjust for that unfortunate lift that occurs in the back of every one of my sweaters. Here's one example: my Waltham.

For other sweaters, I've tried adding short rows at the top of my butt thinking that would give me the extra room I needed. But this time, I added them three inches above the hemline, about 20 percent in from each side. This will hopefully give me the extra length at the back hips and make the sweater look even when viewed from the side. You can see that I'm also working on the back waist shaping to give myself a better fit at the back waist, too.

Meanwhile, the sleeves wait patiently for me to finish. In my house, the leather recliner serves as hitching post for completed knitwear pieces.

I carry on amid coughing and general recovery. More news in my next post.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bartok sleeves - lessons learned

You know when I go incognito here and on Rav that I'm up to my ears. That's certainly the case now. I'm an overburdened pack horse at the moment, weighed down by family drama, work, and life in general.

But I do manage to slip in some knitting time every evening. I'm plodding away on Julia Farwell-Clay's Bartok Tunic from the most recent Interweave Knits. I finally finished and blocked both sleeves and now have advice for anyone who wants to make this sweater.

As you know from previous posts, I've worried about my yarn choice, Rowan Amy Butler Belle Organic Aran. If I were to make this again, I'd use a wool or wool/alpaca blend. While I love the feel of the Amy Butler yarn, it doesn't make for nice colorwork. I'm an accomplished stranded knitter - I've knitted the Handstrikket and many other colorwork projects, but this is my far from my best work. I think most of the problem is the yarn which isn't the least bit forgiving. With a wool yarn, the spaces between the stitches fill in nicely and give a smooth, even fabric that hides any small missteps. This yarn instead yields what I guess some would call stitch definition. I just call it kind of ugly.

This yarn would have been better off knitted at a tighter gauge, too. I was able to get gauge easily and thought it would be okay, but if I did it again, I'd recalculate the entire sweater at a 4.5 spi rather than 4 spi,  or selected different yarn altogether, an easier choice.

My second suggestion is to either do the colorwork all in one color as Julia designed OR to use intarsia for the bird motif. I stranded part of the design at the bottom and tops of the birds and it's pretty chunky looking, especially given the heavy worsted yarn. I should have done the blue vines in four separate intarsia sections and done the birds as two separate intarsia sections. Oh well, live and learn.

The sleeves do look pretty when they're folded into place; they should nice on the tunic. I started the front last night and included more ease than usual because I want this sweater to fit like a tunic and not a fitted cardigan. I should be able to fly through the sweater now - assuming I don't fall asleep during the endless swath of stockinette. :-)