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I’ve been sitting on some beautiful yarn for far too long, and it’s time to share with you. Aside from spurning each other on towards Tomten glory, Adrian and I have been talking handspinning for the last few weeks. Since I’ve never knit with handspun before, can you think of a better way to start than with my very own stash of HelloYarn? Check out this eye candy:

Pluot
4.5 oz/240 yds ‘Pluot’ 100% Corriedale Wool

Hunkered
1.9 oz/116 yds ‘Hunkered’ 100% South African Fine Wool

Trodden
3.4 oz/190 yds ‘Trodden’ 100% Corriedale Wool

I feel absolutely gluttonous over here. I’m not used to such luxury! In considering all the possibilities, there is really only one project that deserves to be knit with these skeins. Wound and ready for … yep you guessed it, more garter stitch. Will it ever stop?

Hello Trio

I am happy to report that I am officially on vacation (thank the heavens!) and will be spending the next 10 days in Portland, Oregon, one of my very favorite places in the world. There will be Oregon Coast knitting and camping and a whole host of much needed relaxation. Don’t you worry though, I’ve stored up plenty of blog fodder to power through. There is a wireless connection waiting for me there. (My dependency on the Internet is nothing short of shameful, but I’ll own up to it).

Oh! And I also got one of these…

My First Single!

Hey. What did you expect in the face of all this beautiful handspun?

I have so many things that I could babble about today, but I promised a proper Tomten Update and I plan to keep my word.

At present, I estimate that I have about 60% of the knitting done. Although hoods, I assume, eat up more wool than most of us expect, so my calculations are subject to interpretation. The body is knit in its entirety as well as 2 sleeve caps, only one of which will make it to the final version of the sweater.

In conceiving an adaptation of the original Tomten, there were a few areas of the pattern that I knew would need some serious revision to fit my personal taste. The most obvious and problematic for me being the sleeve construction. The current pattern has a schematic that resembles a capital “T”, utilizing a sort of very-deep modified drop shoulder. [Here's a good example I found searching flickr.] Now, not forgetting that this pattern is best suited (not to mention intended) for children, this construction is fine and in fact a truly “modular” one, which is by all means part of the Tomten’s charm. For me, it won’t work though and I welcomed the challenge of figuring something else out while keeping the main design principles intact.

I schemed up a few ideas for tackling this problem, one of them involved a gusset, others involved short rows and still others a combination of these and other tricks. In the end, I decided to try the most interesting thing I could come up with – working a set-in sleeve from the top down in the (somewhat odd) space provided. I wasn’t sure if it would work, mostly because of all that garter stitch, which has a completely different row-to-stitch-gauge ratio than stockinette. And I’ve only ever seen this technique successfully executed in stockinette.

Sleeve Cap Acrobatics

Pictured above is the armhole just before the set-in sleeve shaping begins (aka boatloads of shortrows). I’ve blogged this trick before – it’s one of the genius techniques found in Barbara Walker’s book of all things top-down – and an addictive little trick. (Hark, heel-turners of the world, this one is right up your alley.) Remember, it saved me from pattern issues I ran into with Jarrett.

The difference with this situation is, as I mentioned before, an atypical gauge ratio. Since the ‘turning’ of the sleeve fuses together a horizontal gauge measurement with a vertical gauge measurement within one cylindrical tube, garter stitch threw my numbers off. Following the top-down method as-is, I would have ended up with the upper portion of the sleeve at almost 50% of the body. WAY too many stitches. (In this case, that meant an upper arm circumference of about 21″!) The standard sleeve usually maxes out at the upper arm around 35-40%.

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In an nutshell, I devised a rate of increasing to be worked throughout the short row shaping of the sleeve cap that more or less lands me at the target 35-40% sleeve number at the conclusion of the shaping. I’m sure this is not nearly as complicated as I’ve made it sound. Either way, the second picture is the successful cap and the beginning of the regular sleeve knitting (from the top-down, naturally).

Now I just have to replicate this on the opposite side (can I decipher my notes?), finish the sleeves and then it’s on to the hood. The hood is really what’s gonna power me through sleeve monotony. Lord knows I’ve had some other fiber related distractions tempting me.

Garter stitch resumes with an almost untarnished voracity. Stay tuned for more Adult Tomten coverage.

This one is sort of a drop-in-the-bucket as far as projects are concerned, but so beautiful in it’s simplicity that I figured it deserved a little slice of blog space. I don’t get a chance to work with yarn as beautiful ($$$) as Iro everyday, so this was an absolute treat and went all too quickly.

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Pattern: Generic Garter Stitch Scarf (17 sts in width)
Materials: NoroIro in shade #47
Amount: 2 full hanks; 200 g/262 yds
Needles: US 11/8mm

Start and End Date: 12 April 2007 (I couldn’t stop)


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Let me tell you this was one sweet fiber to work with – this is one occasion where the speed of knitting was actually unpleasant. In the end I definitely wished I had more to knit with! This is the second installment of that Noro binge I went on back in March. Don’t worry though, this is it for Noro Scarves – the ‘Tweed isn’t scheduled for a self-striping-yarn takeover. This year. In truth, with all the garter stitch delight going on backstage, everything else is residing in temporary obscurity.

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I have the day off tomorrow, so this is my ‘Friday‘ post. I tend to prefer something simple and easy on the eyes to wrap up the week, when I’m so fried even blog reading can be a chore. We’re getting out of the city and spending the weekend upstate (in Rhinebeck of all places), so I hope to have a lot to show you next week, including a proper Adult-Tomten update (the love affair continues). My partner-in-crime is on vacation so I’m trying not to go overkill on the Tomten. It’s called a knit-along after all, even if it is just the two of us. (Hope you’re enjoying Ireland)

I have something pretty great (!!!) keeping me busy though… more on that later.
Be sure to drink your morning coffee and enjoy your weekend knitting.

For weeks Adrian and I have been taunting each other with ideas of big, garter stitch EZ jackets. (Don’t we all need one?) BSJs and Tomtens are happily abounding in all corners of the world (thank god – I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of seeing ‘em) but the elusive ‘adult versions’ of these sweaters have always been a somewhat intriguing and rare occurrence.

Well, in our common pursuit for modern elvish clothing, an entire wardrobe of garter stitch, and by-the-seat-of-your-pants knitting, Adrian and I have committed ourselves to a whopping two-person knitalong in hopes of one day dawning the hood of the true Zimmermann disciple. The Adult Tomten Jacket. (See some particularly fetching child versions here and here)

Pyramid

After securing the perfect yarn for the job (straight from Northern Montana) it didn’t take long to get a quick garter stitch swatch underway and start Tomten-ing myself into oblivion. (Adrian’s yarn is equally luscious, if not moreso – she’s working a slightly chunkier version than mine!)

Garter4Life

Of course there are a gang of mods that will be involved. The original design isn’t famous for its flattering fit on adults, although this can be easily remedied with some commonsense shaping and fit modifications. I don’t think EZ would have it any other way.

Adult Tomten aka Oversized Garter Swatch

Until next time, we’ll be floating away down garter river dreaming of that pointy hood at the top of the mountain.

For some reason I can’t resist tacking an exclamation mark onto this pattern’s name, no matter how hard I try. I finished this hat a little while ago but didn’t have a chance to take pictures until this weekend. This is an awesome, quick knit that comes with a strong BT recommendation.

Zeebee!

Pattern: Zeebee(!) by Schmeebot
Size: 22″ for my large 24.25″ head
Materials: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran in ‘Wild Plum’ (#410) held double
Amount: Exactly 100g (1 ball)
Needles: US 11 bamboo circulars

Started: 14 May 2007
Finished: 19 May 2007

Zeebee!

The pattern is interactive – other than suggesting worsted to bulky weight yarn, you plug in your own gauge numbers and target measurements (including hat length, thank you!) and the pattern generates itself. Props go to the designer for also including top-notch diagrams. I love these little things.

The hat is worked side-to-side in four main panels using short rows. The best part? You aren’t required to knit the wraps like you do on a sock heel – which was such a nice little bonus. Especially since I knit 80% of this hat in the dark (I was photographing a production last week and smuggled my knitting into the job.)

The following photo gives you a nice view of the shaping at the top where all the short rows come together.

Zeebee Crown

There’s a funny story behind this hat. About a year and a half ago I found a garter stitch baby hat in a book by Melanie Falick (it’s pictured on the cover). The hat was shaped with short rows and had a very interesting construction. I kept the pattern around for months with good intentions on translating it for an adult head. When I randomly stumbled across the Zeebee(!) pattern, I read that its inception occurred in much the same way. Someone else had done the work, wouldn’t I would be daft not to drop everything and knit this immediately?

Purple Garter

It goes without saying that I love this yarn and even more this color. I’m happy I can wear it around on my head now in all its discontinued glory.

A few final notes of interest: because the hat is worked sideways it is super stretchy vertically but not so much horizontally, quite the opposite of the traditional hat pattern. I would recommend leaving just a tad more ease than you would normally with a traditional hat pattern. The language in the pattern can be a bit tricky, but the overall design becomes pretty intuitive pretty quickly, so I think it’s fine.

I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend. I started a new sweater.

Just popping in to say hi and wish you a nice long weekend. I’m reserving Monday for knitting. Only.

Rowan Wool Cotton
Rowan Wool Cotton
And a little Friday Fiber to aid in my well-wishing. See you next week!

As knitters I think we’re constantly in a state of transience between our sense of inspiration (impulse) and our sense of duty. We swing back and forth, sometimes violently, between casting on for the next project which is sure to be absolutely perfect… ahem.. and that ne’er empty basket (or closetfull?) of half-finished projects whose days of divine inspiration have long since passed.

Well, I’ve spent the last week or two at the bottom of the barrel with my Works-In-Progress and, while I may have nothing terribly substantial to show for it, at least I feel like I’ve chipped away a bit at that compressed mass of wool that I so often try to ignore.

Most importantly, The Swisher has gotten some play. I was expecting to get more done on this in the last few days, but I picked up some last minute photo gigs that kept me in the city late into almost every evening last week. I did get some work done on it this weekend however.

A Sleeve Grows in Brooklyn
A sleeve grows in Brooklyn.

The body is complete (the fit is spot on!) and I’m almost finished with sleeve #1. Since I’m working top-down I’ve been able to try it on as I go. This sure takes a lot of stress out of the process. Not only is checking fit a more fluid process, you can really nail your length measurements. A perfect sleeve length is one of those things that really makes one sweater stand out above the others for me.

And at long last, the February Baby Sweater saga is coming to a close. I’ve finished the knitting and now just need to retrieve necessarily charming buttons for this one. You’ll get a full post with more photos and all the juicy details in the near future.

Needs Buttons and Blocking
Once again a down comforter works as an amazing stand in for baby.

I’m right on the brink of a wave of new projects that I’m itching to start. While I wait for new yarns to arrive in my mailbox, I’ll continue answering the call of duty with these old favorites. If nothing else to minimize guilt in starting what can only be called the Great Garter Wave of 2007. Stay tuned.

One Colorcard to Rule Them All

Blue Heaven

The Mother of all Colorcards

Jamieson’s Shetland. So this is what love feels like.

Hey there! I’ve been out of commission for a few days. I got tonsillitis. It hurt. Bad. But things are back on track thanks to Dr. Cho and her magic pills. I’m finally feeling like a normal person again, even if it’s a normal person with semi-serious seasonal allergies. Hey, I can deal with a runny nose and slightly itchy eyes if it means my throat no longer feels like it has knives playing hopscotch inside of it. This is a day to celebrate western medicine (I’m not always so enthusiastic about such things, but I’m happy about regular sized lymph nodes today)!

I was home sick for a number of days, which for me (and probably you) is always great because it means knitting knitting knitting. I did get a significant amount of knitting done, but definitely not as much as I would have on a ‘regular’ sick day (which sometimes isn’t a sick day at all… don’t tell). I actually had to sleep and veg out for a significant number of hours – hours that could have been occupied by an otherwise prolific amount of knitting. Ah well. Bygones.

Scott is progressing quickly (3 sts per inch), although I’ve lost a bit of momentum on it. Despite my best efforts to reduce bulk (namely working the pattern as a seamless raglan), this thing is still a beast of thick, squishy wool. I’m honestly wondering if I’ll actually wear it, even in the winter. I left a bunch of ease but at this point the fit is anyone’s guess. We’ll see what happens. I’m giving you fair warning that I reserve the right to rip this up after its all over and repossess the yarn for a single layer (read: not stranded) garment that is more practical. I love the yarn so much, this wouldn’t be such a huge trauma. I’ll give it a chance though, and at least take pictures of the finished piece for documentation’s sake, why not?

Scott Yoke in Progress

Here you see the yoke, knit just about halfway to the collar. The colors are great and the motifs equally so. No matter what happens, I’m enjoying myself thoroughly.

As my doubts grew about the future of Scott, I started some lace. One night I had the sudden urge for a lace-hit and I had this beautiful alpaca/merino/silk Queensland staring up at me from the floor needing some love. I think it must be the warmer weather, and maybe an unconscious response to the stranded bulk-fest of the sweater that spurned me into shawl territory.

Lacin' It Up

I also picked up my February EZ Baby Sweater from the dregs with hopes of finishing in the near future. I’ve been reading Knitter’s Almanac this week on my commute and enjoying it as ever. I usually read through it every few months because I find EZ’s writing that entertaining. Yes, commuter, I’m the guy sitting across from you on the A train laughing aloud to himself with a knitting book in my hands. What can I say, she can knit a mean baby jacket and write some sassy, intelligent prose.

Good luck getting over the hump, my sights are already set on the weekend. Happy knitting.

I know I’ve said it before, but there are some projects that I think I enjoy photographing even more than knitting (we’re splitting hairs here, but there it is). This scarf is surely one of them – and this post is so photo heavy, I doubt the text will be able to hold its own.

Noro Scarf X

Pattern: Generic 1×1 Ribbed Striped Scarf (See details below)
Materials: Noro Silk Garden; 45 silk | 45 kid mohair | 10 lambswool
Amount: 4 balls in total in Shades 201 (2 balls), 234, and 86; Approx. 440yds/200g
Needles: US 7/4.5 mm KnitPicks Options
Dimensions: Approximately 5.5 inches in width and just over 6 feet in length, unblocked

Start Date: 6 April 2007
Finish Date: 25 April 2007

Noro Scarf II

Manually striping Noro is a classic trick done by many a knitter before me – just check out all the beauties over on Flickr. I admit to spending a good amount of time appreciating all the interesting variations on the same theme for quite some time before taking the plunge myself. For full disclosure, this one sent me over the edge.

Noro Scarf V

I’ve gotten a lot of e-mails about this scarf so I thought I’d throw out all the details – if it’s too much for you, feel free to gloss over this section and rest your eyes on the hypnotic color changes. Noro is good like that.

The scarf is worked over an odd number of stitches in 1×1 ribbing which, in my opinion has two big benefits: the scarf is reversible and behaves very well (no curling) while also plumping up into a thick fabric that will look suspiciously like stockinette if you leave it unblocked. I cast on 39 stitches using US7/4.5mm needles to get a width of about 5.5 inches. On scarves of this nature I prefer to work a slipped stitch edging which adds a nice, polished touch and perfectly hides the working yarn as you carry it up the sides whilst striping to your heart’s content. I worked two-row stripes using two different colorways of Silk Garden, slipping (purlwise) the first and last stitch on the second row of every stripe.

Noro Scarf IV

Colorways: I can appreciate all the amazing colors that Noro hits out of the ballpark, but in general wouldn’t wear most of them. They’re pretty bold. Lucky for me, Noro makes a few colorways that are toned down a bit but retain their luscious, tasteful, saturated quality that the knitter in me is drawn to. Not to mention the texture, which will slay me every time.

I used a total of 4 balls of Silk Garden (which will land this scarf in the $40-45 price range if you buy full price retail. A bit pricey for a scarf but … so … beautiful… ) in three different shades.

Noro Scarf VI

Two of the four balls of yarn I used were shade #201 which is a nice mix of deep blue-blacks, marine blues, silvery greys with a little purple shock thrown in to keep things interesting. See them pre-knitting here. I striped 201 throughout the entire length of the scarf with Silk Garden #234 and #86, two colorways that to me are rather similar. Main colors in both are understated and elegant crimsons, golds and blues, with lots of cool and warm grey tones in between. In their current configuration you can scarcely tell that they’re from two different color families. Pre-knitted cakes of 234 here and 86 here.

Noro Scarf VIII Noro Scarf I Noro Scarf VII

I’m not sure there’s much else to say about the knitting – it feels a little like cheating working such an easy, mindless process and ending up with such a stunning result. The benefits of a quality fiber (and dye job) have never been more apparent.

Noro Scarf III

With spring upon us and summer approaching, I’ll take what few opportunities I can to throw this thing on, but for the next couple of months I’m happy to call it wall-art in my apartment.

Noro Scarf IX

Happy Monday, one and all.