Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday FO: Cables & Lace with Hand-Dyed

These socks had been a resident of my WIP basket for over a year...until yesterday. I started them not long after my crazy sock summer when I was trying to revamp all the socks for the new Figheadh site. I only had one pair of Cables & Lace Socks (I know--I used to be pretty generic in naming my patterns, huh?) and needed something different. I have had this skein of Butternut Woolens Sock Yarn since 2008, just waiting to knit it up. The two needed to come together.

These socks have a kind of heel and a kind of toe that I haven't done on any of my other dozen or more sock designs. 
I show you the two toes because the one on the top is done the way I usually do them--decrease every other round. The one on bottom is a more graduated decrease--every fourth round once, every third round twice, every other round three times, and then every round for the last few. As you can see, the second method leaves you with a longer toe section, but they both block up round. Why are these socks made with two different toes? I would love to say that it was a planned experiment, but, no. I didn't pay attention to my own pattern on the first sock and just got giddy to finish and assumed. Yep, it happens to me, too.

Oh, and not only that, but even though I had already edited the pattern as I knit the first sock? Yeah, I found a tiny typo in it. I sent out the update yesterday morning, y'all.

The best thing about these socks?
My friend Shelly dyed the yarn. 
She named it Sage Hen and I can see why. There are so many shades of sage and little moments of rust and the lightest of blues.

Shelly isn't dyeing yarn anymore, at least not for selling. She's a nurse now. I think there's something at once criminal and wonderful about that.

So cozy

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pattern Support: The Figheadh Fundamental Top-Down Cardigans

I have received a couple of e-mails from knitters having trouble deciphering the V-neck shaping in my Fundamental Top-Down Cardigans. The baby, junior, and women's cardigan patterns all have the option written in for either crew neck or V-neck, and the men's is V-neck only. The baby pattern has such small numbers that the Sequences were not necessary, but the others have a bit of a tricky explanation because of the Sequences.

First of all, allow me to say that the way this part of the pattern is written was my way to try to cover more ground without making the pattern stretch out to 20 pages or more. All of my Fundamental patterns are written for so many sizes and in so many multiple yarn weights that they cover a lot of ground, each without going past 12 pages in length. The 13th page is a worksheet page for plugging in your own individual project numbers. When you buy any of the sweater patterns in this series, once you choose your gauge you have one sheet (front and back) that you can carry around with you to work the sweater without having to print out (or carry) the entire pattern. And if you choose to use the template, you only have one page (front only, albeit tiny print) to poke in your knitting bag. I think that's pretty neat!

Okay, on to clearing up some issues.

Basically, when working a top-down raglan sweater, usually the knitter must increase at least every other row at the raglan line (the line between body and sleeves), and also usually this is accomplished on the right side of the fabric. For some sizes in these patterns it was necessary to factor in more rapid increases to arrive at the required number of stitches for the body and sleeves before the length of the armhole was reached. This caused a complication: How to let the knitter know when to work increases if they are happening sometimes simultaneously and sometimes not. That's when I wrote in the Sequences.

Sequence One is for when the knitter is working only the raglan increase every RS row.
Sequence Two is for when the knitter is working the raglan increase and the neck edge increase every RS row.
Sequence Three is for when the knitter must work only the raglan increase on right side and wrong side both. This occurs with some sizes toward the end of the armhole when the neck increases have been completed.
Sequence Four is for when the knitter is juggling all of the above and must work the raglan increase on both right side and wrong side and the neck increase on right side only. This sequence is not used by most of the sizes.

All of the Sequences explain what to do on the right side rows and the wrong side rows.

Ignoring the Sequences for a moment, let's take an example. Here is the instruction for the V-neck increases for size 43 chest for gauge 4 (or generally worsted weight yarn):

"Work raglan inc every RS row [Sequence One] 22 (25, 28, 27, 25, 24, 22, 22) times and then every row [Sequence Three] 0 (0, 0, 5, 10, 14, 19, 22) times. At the same time, beg count with WS row after set-up row, work inc at RS neck edge [Sequence Two] every 6 rows 2 (2, 5, 7, 8, 7, 8, 7) times and then every 4 rows 8 (9, 6, 4, 3, 5, 4, 6) times [35 (39, 42, 46, 49, 53, 56, 60) sts on LF and on RF]. When raglan inc every row and neck edge inc occur simultaneously, use Sequence Four."

This one's pretty simple. Remembering that the Setup Row has accomplished the first set of increases, the raglan increase is worked every RS row (every other row) 28 times--not counting those in the Setup Row. On the third raglan increase, the V-neck starts and is worked every 6 rows five times and then every 4 rows six times. Going back to using the Sequences to know how to work everything, this size uses only Sequence One and Two. We could list it out this way, accounting for every single row.

1 (RS): Setup row
2 (and every even row) Purl.
3. Sequence One
5. Sequence One
7. Sequence Two
9. Sequence One
11. Sequence One
13. Sequence Two
15. Sequence One
17. Sequence One
19. Sequence Two 
21. Sequence One
23. Sequence One
25. Sequence Two
27. Sequence One
29. Sequence One
31. Sequence Two
33. Sequence One
35. Sequence One
37. Sequence Two 
39. Sequence One
41. Sequence Two
...and going on from there, working the raglan increase every right side row and both neck edge increase and raglan increase every other right side row. In other words, the knitter would repeat rows 39-42 three more times to complete the required increases.

Let's take a more complicated example. This one is for working the women's top-down cardigan with V-neck in size 54 chest. 

Work raglan inc every RS row [Sequence One] 29 (30, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45) times and 6 (8, 9, 9, 9, 10, 9, 11, 12, 12, 13, 15) times every row [Sequence Three]. At the same time, beg count with WS row after set-up row, work inc at RS neck edge [Sequence Two] every 6  rows 7 (12, 12, 10, 10, 13, 13, 14, 14, 15, 15, 17) times, and then every 4 rows 6 (1, 2, 4, 5, 2, 3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1) times [51 (54, 57, 59, 62, 65, 67, 70, 73, 75, 78, 81) sts on LF and on RF].  When raglan inc every row and neck edge occur simultaneously, use Sequence Four.

1. Setup row
2 (and every even row). Purl.
3. Sequence One
5. Sequence One
7. Sequence Two
(Repeat rows 3-8 fifteen more times) 
92. Sequence Three (WS)
93. Sequence Three (RS)
94. Sequence Three (WS)
95. Sequence Four
96. Sequence Three (WS)
97. Sequence Three (RS)
98. Sequence Three (WS)
99. Sequence Four
100. Sequence Three (WS)
101. Sequence Three (RS)
102. Sequence Three (WS)
103. Sequence Four
Rows 104-107 work Sequence Three only and all increases are complete.

So maybe with this small slice of pattern action, you can start to see why I tried to introduce some order so that I would not STILL be trying to write these patterns and folks could already be enjoying what has become one of my best-selling set of patterns to date. Was there another way to write it? No. There were probably twenty other ways to write it, but this is the way I chose.

Thank you to all of you who have tried the Fundamental patterns or who have them queued. 
I hope this helps facilitate your knitting!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Annabelle Edit, Part Three

Annabelle is done!
And here she is hanging out in the garden...literally.

I absolutely love it and I hope granddaughter Lucy does, too. Let's take her inside and examine things more closely.

Here's her back side (whoops!)

And check out this cute ribbon I got for backing the button band. The little fox and deer are especially adorable! It'll be like Lucy's little secret.

The detail on the center of the sleeve...

...and a closeup of the effect of the short-row sleeve caps. It makes a little ditch and I had to tighten up the stitches a bit along there. It usually shows up closer to the stitch pickup, but I worked one row before starting the short rows to be sure of setting up the stitch pattern along the center. The best thing was that I did not have to sew the sleeves into the armhole and there were very few ends to weave in.

I also love that only the edges are worked in seed stitch instead of also having whole sections of it. Everyone knows it takes longer to work seed stitch than Stockinette--I'll bet I shaved hours off this project just with that one change. This yarn blocked up very nicely, giving me a sweet, soft, machine-washable cardi for Emily to wrap Lucy in when fall comes.

I'm so glad I took the time to improve this pattern. Now I'm off to edit the pattern by adding all the changes: Sleeve cap change, seed stitch to Stockinette stitch changes in spots, and more length added to the body. 
The new version should be ready by early next week and I'll let you know when it's up for purchase.

Maybe you have a little girl who would like an Annabelle Cardigan?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Annabelle Edit, Part Two

Hello again! 

I'm back to tell you that my plan worked with the Annabelle. I thought it would be great to try short-row, top-down sleeve caps on this cardigan. I sought advice first from Barbara Walker's book, Knitting From the Top, and then from Wendy Bernard's book, Custom Knits 2. I first tried this technique on the Promenade Dress from Modern Top-Down Knitting by Kristina McGowan, which I just realized that I never blogged about, nor did I add it to my Ravelry projects page--more work to do! Anyhow, it was high time for me to learn how to put this technique into my own pattern, and I used Wendy's instructions--they made it so easy!
Here is the first sleeve of the new Annabelle laid flat. You can actually work this sleeve flat or in the round--your choice. I worked the body sections flat, so I wanted to continue in that vein. See how the little cap hunkers up? That's what the short rows do. With short rows, you are working only some of the stitches while leaving the rest to...well, rest--until you get back to them. It makes things round, or wedged, or whatever shape you need them to be. A sleeve cap? It should be round, not pointy. Short rows make that happen!

Here she is all laid out. You can also see even better in these pictures how I replaced a lot of the seed stitch with Stockinette Stitch. Seed stitch is fun with hand-dyed yarn, but good old Stockinette lets it really shine. It's also easier to work all the shaping on Stockinette Stitch.

Here's the setup. I took a 24" circular needle and picked up the required stitches around the armhole.

In this closeup you can see that I picked up three stitches for every four rows, making sure that I picked up a stitch at the shoulder seam, because this stitch pattern requires one center stitch. 

Then I got out all my markers and placed them by color as I worked the first row. The orange fixed marker holds the center stitch, the green markers are where the central stitch pattern will be worked and where I will need to start working short rows, and the white markers are where I will stop working short rows and work all the stitches back and forth. Wendy advises that one-third of the armhole stitches at the top center should be placed between short rows. Barbara's numbers were working out to about 24% instead of 33%. One third worked great for me, because it perfectly coincided with my central stitch pattern (the sections between Stockinette stitch sections). Once I was done knitting the sleeves, I closed up the side seams and sleeve seams with mattress stitch--so much fun!

Here is the new improved Annabelle pre-bath. She's kind of lumpy and malformed, but I expect great things when I block her! Now if I can just choose the right buttons....

I'll be back in part three with  FO pictures! See you soon!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Annabelle Edit, Part One

I can't go back and edit every single pattern that I have written, but oh how I wish that I could!
The problem with pattern writing is that I keep learning new things and when I look back at the mistakes I made in my early years, I desperately want to fix them. The problem with being the publisher of my patterns is that I can...and I can also get stuck in this vicious cycle forever and never move on to something new. I can't fix them all, but I can fix a few. 
Right now, I am fixing the Annabelle Cardigan.

Let's look back. 
We started working on the Annabelle Cardigan in 2009.
My first sample was made with Marr Haven Sport. Here it is on Mia in a promo picture I took of her and her brother Georgie, who sported the first sample of the Declan sweater. Cutie pie models, for sure, but notice how short the sweaters are! I must have been stuck in the 80's. Remember crop tops? 
We later rephotographed Georgie wearing an adjusted Declan, thank goodness.

Here is the second incarnation of the Annabelle that my tester Stormy knit with Pagewood Farm Kiana (no longer available) and that is being modeled by her daughter Tempest.

I happily followed Tempest around while she played with a ladybug in the park, snapping pictures as I could. Isn't she precious?

My notes tell me that I eventually added an inch to the length in the pattern, but it was still too short!
That's not the only glitch with the pattern. The sleeve caps have been bugging me for a while and my overuse of seed stitch was making the whole darn sweater too wide. Add all that to its length issues and you have yourself an ill-fitting cardigan. Recently I got it in my mind to tackle two problems--knit a new sweater for my growing granddaughter Lucy and fix the Annabelle!

Here is the new one after finishing the body and joining the shoulders. This sample is made with Butternut Woolens Superwash Falkland sport weight (no longer available). It's sort of a soft pumpkin hand-dyed color. I am quite enjoying knitting with it! I have kept most of the stitch patterns intact, except for changing some of the seed stitch to Stockinette stitch. I also adjusted the stitch patterns on the front pieces to exactly match those on the back so that the panels flow continuously from back to front. Oh, and, yes, I added lots more length! I pinned the body out at this point so that I could examine the armhole more closely and decide what to do next.

I'll be back with part two next time. I have a good plan, but I would rather wait to see if it will actually work before I reveal the plan. Side note: notice how most of the yarn in this post is no longer available? Yep, I am working from my stash this year. I'll bet you are, too.


Friday, August 09, 2013


After a couple of years of releasing nothing but small projects--socks, scarves, hats, mitts, shawls--I am finally back on the sweater trail. Designing sweaters is my most favorite because it's a challenge. Also, there's just more territory to play around with.

What's the story behind this newest sweater design? Read on...

In July 2011 my friend Kelli and I went to Sock Summit in Portland, OR. We enjoyed the heck out of it, but I think we would have paid more attention if we'd known it was going to be the last one. (That's perhaps how we should go about each thing we do--as if it's the last time we'll get to do it.) While perusing the market there I went to visit my friend Liz in her MacKintosh Yarn booth. We had gotten acquainted the previous year at Stitches South and I wanted to check in on her and her sweet mom. Little did I know she was going to thrust about 12 skeins of yarn into my arms and ask me to design a cable sweater with it. Even though I was beset with projects already, I hesitatingly (but excitedly) accepted, telling her it would take me a few months to get to the project. I was able to get to work in earnest on the sweater the next January. The project encountered a couple of pauses and problems, but I never let it fall by the wayside.

At first I swatched and even made a mood board for the project. It turned out that a painting that I came across in my 1000 Masterpieces book by Sister Wendy became the major influence for the design. You can see it in the top left of the photo above and you can see and read about the painting here. I loved the medieval style of it and I knew I wanted to go about it in a modular way. I chose the Celtic cable for the shoulder band from Melissa Leapman's book, Cables Untangled and began to choose the stitch patterns for the rest of the sweater. I wanted more cables, but not too many. I wanted great expanses of the sweater to be simple so that the glorious cable at the shoulder would not be upstaged. I took a note from the sleeves of Mary's garment in the painting and decided on a simple knit/purl lattice for the body. I added cables along the side seam, which flank a panel of ribbing to make the sweater hug the body. Also, taking a hint from Mary's garment in Scorel's painting, I wanted the Magdalena to appear as if there were a simple undershirt peeking out from under the more detailed overshirt or vest, which led to the simple collar and sleeves. The band at the hips anchors it all and keeps the shape I envisioned. 

I wanted to have the Magdalena photographed while being worn over a diaphonous long chiffon or tulle skirt on someone with flowing, wavy hair, and by contrast, my original wardrobe styling included a short tartan with big chunky boots, as you can see on the mood board. Either look would have been great!

Meanwhile, I finished her up and blocked her along about last summer.

I tried her on for fit.
And then a few months ago my daughter Natalie and I went down to the beach and had some fun.

It's not as I originally pictured it, but that's okay. I've learned to be satisfied.

The Magdalena is a sweater pattern of few sizes, but for those sizes I think it will be a fun project for anyone who loves something a little different and who loves a bit of a challenge. It's knit with heavy worsted and so it goes pretty fast. You can see more of the details explained here.

I am working on a couple more sweater patterns that I hope to have released this fall. This is why I've been absent lately. Writing sweater patterns takes lots of time and concentration and staying off the internets!
I'll try to pop in more frequently and show you some progress.
Toodles and thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Knit Fit 2013 Registration!

It's time to register for Knit Fit!

I hope you will sign up for classes today, especially mine!
The registration just went live, so jump in there before it's full.

Now back to writing patterns and getting ready for my 

Be back soon to tell you more.
(I hope my classes fill up today!)