2015 TBSP Year in Review & Plans for 2016


Happy first day of 2016 and happy two-year anniversary to TBSP! To welcome this new year of knitting, I thought I'd share a little review of last year's (whoa!) projects and my knitting plans for 2016. 

2015 was a slow but steady year for TBSP. It saw the knitting of Better Sweater No. 7 and No. 8 (plus Epistrophy)! While that's quite a few fewer than last year, I really enjoyed the process of knitting my 2015 jumpers. Cabling and meticulously following charts were central themes in both Moroccan Nights and Ondawa, and I am now pretty darn good at both. I'm also super great at unraveling small sections to fix twist direction! Huzzah!

Top photos: 1. Moroccan Nights // 2. Ondawa

I currently have two sweaters in my queue for 2016. On the left: Backbay by Jared Flood. This Aran-style pullover was also in my 2015 queue and is at the top of my knit list. On the right: White Pine by Amy Christoffers (Savory Knitting). I absolutely love the fit of Christoffers' patterns (Campus and Acer are two of my favorite Better Sweaters) and White Pine looks like a fun project to sink my teeth into. Yay for more cables!

1. Backbay by Jared Flood // 2. White Pine by Amy Christoffers

Looking forward to knitting the Better Sweaters of 2016, once again transforming meh into yeah!


Ondawa is Complete!


After seven long months, I can now say that the second and final better sweater of 2015 is complete! Hurray! It's been quite a long journey. I cast on in May and slowly chugged away at the first panel over several months. Once grad school started in August I stopped knitting completely (sadness!), but over the Thanksgiving break I started up again and made steady progress on the second panel. I finished the sleeves over Christmas and sewed up all the pieces when I got back to the Bay on Monday. In my impatience to finish the sweater, I skipped the blocking phase...eh I know. I may block it now that it is in one piece, but honestly it fits (and looks) just fine without blocking.

If you've seen the Ondawa pattern, or other folks' Ondawa projects, you'll know that this sweater was designed to be oversized (like 10-20 inches of positive ease) in width and slightly short in length. Concerned about fit and inspired by the mods made by Raveler grimfrosties (who added two more repeats of the central cable to her sweater), I decided to do 8 total repeats of the central cable (16 twists). I achieved the suggested gauge with a size 7 needle but must have knit rather tightly because my panels are 20.5 inches across rather than 22. My length is also 21 inches rather than the suggested 17¼. I also modified the sleeves as my arms are rather slender and did just 3 increases, resulting in a total of 52 stitches on each arm before casting off. 

All said and done, Ondawa was such a joy to knit! I absolutely loved the pattern and experienced zero cabling fatigue! Knitting without a cabling needle changed my life and the chart repeats flew by. If I were to tackle this project again, though, I think I would try out a modified front and back panel. Perhaps skip the twisted rib along the sides, thereby removing some of the excess ease? I'd also use a lighter (read: softer and not 100% wool) yarn. The Ondawa pattern produces a rather dense material. Add a robust wooly yarn to the mix and, well, this is a pretty heavy jumper! But hey, it's winter! I'm very content, cozy, and warm. 


Olsen Sweater by Karen Templer


Growing up, the turtleneck was my least favorite item of clothing. In an effort to prevent my brother and me from catching colds, my dear Dad pushed us to wear them whenever the temperature dropped below 65 (to this day my Dad still abides by this rule for himself). For my pre-school graduation I wore a paisley turtleneck underneath my favorite frilly dress, not because I wanted to but because the padres thought the venue was too cold to wear the fancy dress on its own. I was only 4 and I still carry that memory. I cried a lot that day! Poor baby Kylin.

It wasn't just that I found the collar-like neckline of the turtleneck restrictive, I also thought the design was generally unflattering. All the cute LL Bean kids prints in the world couldn't incite me to want to wear one. I told myself that as soon as I grew up I would never wear a turtleneck again! 

Fast forward 15 years and I'm now pretty down with turtlenecks. They're classic, protective, and only occasionally restrictive. (Younger Kylin was also anti nose-piercings, armpit hair on girls, and compost...would probably strongly dislike older Kylin.) Audrey, Jackie O, and Marilyn knew what was up:

This week I stumbled upon Karen Templer's Olsen Sweater and became instantly obsessed. A note on her Ravelry project page mentions that she's:

"Been calling this my Olsen Sweater because in addition to being a tribute to a couple of beloved sweaters from my past, it was partially inspired by recent one from the Olsen Twins’ second line, Elizabeth and James."

The pattern has yet to be released (fingers crossed it comes out soon). In preparation I'm going to begin the hunt for some bulky yarn (i.e. head on down to the Goodwill). What a perfect winter staple, especially in the Bay Area where it's cold but not that cold. 

Anyway, to bring this whole post back around, I'm thinking of investing in this LL Bean top as a sign of my own maturity and growth. And also because it's damn cute. 

Images: 1. Karen Templer's Olsen Sweater on Ravelry // 2. Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face // 3. Classic Jackie O. // 4. Marilyn looking fiiine // Karen Templer in her Olsen Sweater.


Ondawa Update


Hello! It's been awhile! Things have been a wee bit crazy over here. I started graduate school in August and since then have picked up my needles only a handful of times (...twice). This summer I had high hopes of completing Ondawa by the end of the year, but between classes and readings and papers, well, I'm just not sure if I have the time!

Still, as one who is highly optimistic, a good 80% of me thinks I can get 'er done. I am very close to finishing the front panel. Then it's just the back panel and two sleeves to go! Totally doable right (heh heh)? My current plan is to bring the project down to my parents for Turkey-Day and go hard on it then. And again during winter break. I think completing it before the new year is semi-possible if I really put my mind--and hands--to it! I'd love for this to be at least a two better sweater year (four less than 2014 but hey)! Wish me strength and focus, friends! 


Sweater Shop Snood!


Last month I was contacted by the Sweater Shop, a family-run knitwear business in Ireland, who had seen my post about Aran sweaters and wanted to know if I would like one of their 100% merino Aran snoods. Of course, I said yes!

The package arrived while I was in New Mexico and was the first thing I went to when I got home. What a wonderfully soft yet solid piece of knitwear! So much cable inspiration...I want to try my hand at that double snakey cable stitch

Since our weather in the Bay Area is all over the place I look forward to wearing my snood all year long. Thank you so much, Sweater Shop!


Let It Be Known


A few missing buttons notwithstanding I'm ready to say... my Epistrophy cardigan is complete! Hurray!

And just in time for our San Francisco summer (think cold gloomy weather)! I've been wearing this cardi nonstop since it came off the blocking board. Thank you, Kate Davies, for an incredible pattern! And thanks to Mary for the yarn! All my project notes (of which there are many) and a few extra photos can be found on my Ravelry page.


Epistrophy in Progress


I am so close to completing Epistrophy! I only have a wee bit of the sleeve left to knit, some blocking, and the button band ribbon to add. Hooray! I finally settled on this adorable tape to cover the steek edges and it should arrive in the next couple weeks (all the way from South Korea!). 

I'll post more pictures and some thoughts on the knitting process when the cardi's 100% complete. Don't be surprised if it's a month from now... that's just how this sweater and I roll. Slowwwww mooootion. My monthly knitting average has gone wayyyy down. Get it together, Kylin!


Outlander Knitwear


I'm slowly watching the Outlander series and have been surprised--nay, heartened!--by the amount of knitwear on the show!

Today, The Muse published Kelly Faircloth's interview with Outlander costume designer Terry Dresbach. Get ready for the inside scoop on the show's knits!

Tell me about the knitwear specifically. Because that was one of the things that stuck out to me. I was watching and thought wow, I need a giant cowl scarf, which is not something I usually say to myself.
Who knew? It’s so funny that that has garnered the attention that it has. There’s people all over the world madly knitting Claire cowls. And it was literally a spur of the moment decision. She looked cold. All the men are bundled up to their chins and here’s this woman and she’s not covered and we could have put what’s called a fichu on her, which is a linen kerchief that goes around her neck. That didn’t look warm enough. And you’re thinking, she’ll die! And we literally pulled—I don’t even know why I had this piece. Who knows why it was sitting in my office. We pulled this knit cowl out and put it on her and it was like, Oh, there she is.
Then we went back and went Ok, is this a legitimate garment? Can we justify this? So we did a lot of research and there was indeed knitwear. Was it knit in the way that scarf was? Don’t have any research that says it was, don’t have research that says it wasn’t. So we concocted a story that Mrs. Fitz got tired of using regular knitting needles and had the local woodworker make her really big ones and then she made knit stuff for everybody. And I dare anybody to tell me she didn’t do it!
It’s tricky, because we’re not, we didn’t put her synthetics. We didn’t put her in a zipper. We didn’t use velcro. We didn’t use things that did not exist at the time. We used a method and a system that existed and then we tailored it to our needs. And I thought no one would really notice! Oops. You all noticed, and they’re still noticing. For a while there I was like, Please stop noticing, but now I’m OK with it. But we got some heat for it! There’s always people out there who will pick apart pretty much anything because it’s not historically accurate. And we worked really hard to not make a contemporary version of history. So when people got freaked out about the knitwear, it was a little disturbing because it was like, no no no no look at everything else! Don’t just focus on the knitwear!
I think it’s partly that, as gorgeous as those eighteenth century dresses are, it’s really hard to work them into my daily routine. But that scarf I can do!
You can do the cowl.
I was a little nervous about it, but the amount of love it has generated, the fact that there are women who are knitting all of these scarves and cowls based on our show is so touching and so lovely and speaks so much about our fans and who they are and the relationship they have to the material. It’s really quite lovely, and I don’t think twice about it anymore.

Sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4