Better Sweater No. 7

 

Better Sweater No. 7 is complete! As I mentioned recently, I loved knitting this sweater. Garter stitch, stockinette, cables--gah!--I'd knit it all over again!

For the first time ever I took detailed notes on the process and included them on both the project page and on Ravelry. The biggest mods I made had to do with needle size and decreases since I'm quite small. I also added a line of crochet on the right side of the neckline just below the cast on edge. This kept the edge from rolling too deeply in the back (all that stockinette stitch!). It looks like it's rolling a bit in the picture below but that's just because my shoulders were back. It normally lies completely flat.

In other news: I'm going to be taking a wee break from better sweatering in the to knit up Kate Davies' Epistrophy with legit yarn. We'll see if the project monogamy lasts. If I get too restless I'll start harvesting yarn for Better Sweater No. 8. I already have the sweater picked out and it's lace weight! Exciting!

 

BT Winter 15

 

Chainlink - architectural cabled tunic

It's here! It's here! Brooklyn Tweed's Winter 2015 pattern collection dropped this morning and it couldn't be more fabulous. 

From Jared Flood:

I’ve had the idea of doing a collection of designs inspired by art historical references for years. I loved the idea of bringing together my post-academia love of art history together with our work at Brooklyn Tweed in some way. In college I spent 9 months abroad in Rome studying art history and fell in love with the lighting and composition of paintings from the Baroque period, especially those of the Dutch Masters like Vermeer and Rembrandt.
I thought it would be a fun creative challenge to create imagery inspired by this genre of painting for a knitwear collection, and to use art historical references as a springboard for our designers to begin concepts for their garments. Last November, when our Design Team convened in NYC for our regular design retreat, we took a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to gather inspiration for some of our newest patterns in the Winter 15 collection.

Check out the video below for more details on the lookbook and collection.

Of the 17 new patterns, I am especially smitten with Carpeaux & Midway. The textures are so inviting and the little details--like the reversible cables along the front of Carpeaux and the chevron panels on Midway--add extra flair. It's not really cold enough in the Bay Area for giant wooly sweaters, but I'd suck it up just to wear them. 

1. Carpeaux - blanket front brioche cardigan // 2. Midway // textured a-line pullover with cowl

 

Never Mind!

 

So you know how I just wrote that post about designing my own colorwork sweater? Well, I was sketching and swatching and looking up more patterns for inspiration, &c....when I stumbled upon the colorwork sweater of my dreams:  

Epistrophy by Kate Davies! It is everything I wished for and more! Plus, the yarn weight matches my Rowan and I have just enough skeins! I couldn't be more pleased.

Epistrophy is actually 1 of 11 patterns in the digital book Yokes by Kate that was published late last year. While I usually buy individual patterns when possible, I'm actually glad that in this instance I was forced to purchase the whole book (as you can guess, patterns from Yokes are not sold separately). The first 43 pages contain essays on the history of yoke design, and are replete with interviews and photographs.

In this exciting new book, writer and designer Kate Davies unravels the tale of one of the Twentieth Century’s most distinctive sweater styles - the circular yoke. From Shetland and Iceland to Canada and Sweden, Kate’s essays and conversations take you on a journey around the North Atlantic, exploring the yoke’s intriguing and often surprising regional narratives.
A garment with unexpected national and political resonances; an important marker of personal and cultural identity; a fashionable barometer of trends and technical transformations from the 1920s to today, yokes have connected the lives and livelihoods of many different women.

Fascinating! I can't wait to read more!

This will be my first foray into Kate Davies' designs and I just have this feeling that we'll get along well!  My plan is to learn all I can about colorwork and elegant pattern design at Kate's virtual feet, and hopefully at a later date this year I'll tackle a colorwork sweater design of my own! Huzzah!

 

 

Colorwork

 

E's mom sent me a whole sweater's worth of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed DK earlier this month (thank you, Mary!) and I've been spending all my free time thinking about what I'm going to make. In addition to the nine skeins of tweedy pink there's one skein of tweedy purple. Inspired by Felicia Semple's cardigan, and one of the lovely colorwork designs on it, I thought, "Hey! That could work here!" and then, surprisingly for me, "Lemme swatch that!" And so I did.

The result, while a little wonky around the edges, is so fabulous that I think I'll have to do it! The variation in color is certainly subtle but I think it will knit up nicely.

I haven't yet decided if this project will be a pullover or a cardigan. If I go the cardigan route, I might just try my hand at steeking (thanks again, Felicia, for the inspiration!). Here's some more simple colorwork inspo from Ravelry:

1. Strokkur by Ysolda Teague// 2. Lady of the Lake by Susan Mills // 3. Stasis Pullover by Leila Raabe // 4. Sundottir by Dianna Walla

So even though this sweater isn't technically a Better Sweater, I'm still planning on documenting the process of knitting it in this journal. My goal is to make up the pattern myself as I go, which should be hilarious. I am pretty badat math (a huge bummer as a knitter) so there will be many foibles to share. But if it all works out in the end maybe I'll start crafting my own patterns for future Better Sweaters! I've designed a few hats in my time...how much harder can it be? I'll keep you posted!

Before I can get this new show on the road, however, I need to finish Better Sweater No. 7! Almost done with the first sleeve woohoo!

Also, my Addi Click Interchangeable Needle Set arrived and I am SO STOKED about them (see image above)! Knitting the little colorwork swatch was a breeze with the yarn slipping so easily off the needles. How I wish I'd bought these years ago. They are indeed an investment but certainly one worth making!

 

Madder Anthology 2

 

Oh my goodness. Have you seen Madder Made's Anthology 2? It's amazing! These three sweaters in particular have caught my fancy (in order of appearance in this post): 1. Lucia Hoodie, 2. Barn Sweater, 3. Lucinda. Are they not magnificent? I may have to push aside all the items on my knit-list to cast on Lucia. Gotta find me a worsted weight sweater!

 

2014 TBSP Year in Review & Plans for 2015

 

I should have posted this before New Years but...Sibella...so today will have to do! Here's my 2014 knitting year in review and my pattern plans for 2015!

Projects: 1. Campus Jacket // 2. Hypatia // 3. James // 4. Acer // 5. Sibella // 6. Woodland & Palmyre

It was a great first year for The Better Sweater Project! I knit five sweaters--six, if we're counting Uniform--and two shawls. I learned some new tricks like short rows and the mattress stitch, and improved my cabling and lace knitting skills. I also learned two important lessons:

  1. Fiber quality matters! While I absolutely love all the sweaters I knit this year, there are some that I love a little more than the others. Acer (a wool/acrylic/mohair blend) and James (cotton/acrylic) probably get the most attention when I'm reaching for something warm. No doubt it's because they're so soft and comfy! That said, Campus became a closet staple this December as the weather turned cold and Hypatia got a lot of use in the spring and summer months since it pairs so well with dresses and tunics. Still, I wish C and H were a wee bit softer to the touch. This year I plan to be more choosey with the items I frog.
  2. Swatching is a must! So I know I say "always always swatch" on my DIY page because, heck, it's important! But often one to ignore my own advice, I rarely swatch...or rather, I rarely swatch properly. Instead I'll cast on 30 or so stitches, knit a couple rows, measure, make sure I'm within the gauge limits, and then get going. If the gauge is off I'll go down a needle or two without re-swatching and hope for the best. This has led to some pretty serious gauge shame and frogging. Sibella was one of those gauge disasters. I had nearly finished the body and a sleeve when I thought, "Hey, this looks a little loose." To my nonsurprise my gauge was off. Rip rip rip. This year I plan to swatch properly. Any resources on the subject would be greatly appreciated!

As for 2015, I am very excited to embark on new knitting adventures! Some patterns I'd like to tackle include:

1. Bressay Dress by Gudrun Johnston // 2. Backbay by Jared Flood // 3. Ondawa by Michele Wang // 4. Stasis Pullover by Leila Raabe

The Better Sweater Project has been a real gift to me this year. It has provided me with a sense of purpose when I've felt lost, and highlighted a resourcefulness I didn't quite know I possessed. It has allowed me to further explore my passion for knitting and transformed the way I look at the craft. I am so happy to have stumbled upon the wonderful world of recycled yarn and better sweatering!

Looking forward to knitting the Better Sweaters of 2015, transforming meh into yeah!

 

Just In Time

 

Last night (New Years Eve) at approximately 10:30pm I finished Sibella! That's right: Sibella is complete! That's 5 better sweaters, and 2 shawls, in 2014!

This project's been a real beast. Cotton is so unforgiving. Not only did the yarn dry out my hands, it also hurt them as I strained to keep proper tension. Ultimately, though, the struggle was worth it and the final product is lovely. Soft but with structure, this sweater is perfect for all seasons.

I'm planning on taking some legit pictures this afternoon at the Berkeley Rose Garden and will post them soon with more details on the knitting process.

Happy New Year!