Archives for category: Cardigans

One of my favorite things to do is watch the number of Baby Surprise Jackets crawl higher and higher into the thousands over on Ravelry. It stands as a testament to the timelessness and genius of this pattern. Whenever I’m finishing one, that annoying Lays Potato Chip slogan always comes into my mind, you know it – betcha can’t eat just one? Yeah. Now that I’ve defiled the glory of EZ by comparing her to greasy snack food, I think we should move onto the knitting.

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Today is a two for one – two handspunBSJ’s – and represents a few things: my new found knitting time with the official end of my semester (glory!), spring cleaning and the finishing of way too many WIPS (I’m taking them down all around me), and what may serve as a good segue back to knitting from all that spinning talk.

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There’s not much to say about the pattern that hasn’t already been said hundreds of times. If you’ve knit one, you know. If you haven’t, you should. The pattern can be found in Knitting Workshop and The Opinionated Knitter, and is also available as a stand-alone pattern from Schoolhouse Press as well as a DVD walkthrough with Meg Swansen.

BSJ II (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

These are BSJ #2 and #3 for me (Fall Version and Spring Version seem more appropriate titles). The first was made last year in early summer, and happened to be the first time I ever officially knit with handspun. Domino effect?

BSJ III (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

I think this pattern is a great match for handspun yarn – the self-striping nature of handspun accentuates the shaping of the garment and the slightly irregular texture suits garter stitch wonderfully. Not to mention you can knit a whole one using between 4-5 oz of yarn, and spinners usually have a lot of small batches of handspun lying around. They’re also great at classing up all your scraps. Very versatile.

BSJ II (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The Autumn (Red/Orange) Version was knit with merino fibers dyed at Spunky Eclectic. The colorway is Burning Bush and came out fantastic – it was a pleasure to both spin and knit. [Solo yarn shot here.] I actually knit this about 9 months ago. I remember because it was my portable knitting during that hellish move in September. I also remember channeling all my desperation for the onset of Fall into it. But alas, it sat completed and without buttons all of these months, until the other one came along and prompted me to get over to the button shop.

BSJ III (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

The spring version is fine shetland dyed by Krista atPigeonroof Studios. I actually ran out of yarn right at the buttonband and subbed in some leftover merino from a previous spin, which also turned out to be Pigeonroof. [Both yarns here and here].

BSJ II (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

Buttons were purchased at B.E. Yarn in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Everything was sewn up and photographed a couple of weeks ago. And I think that about exhausts these two for things that I can blather on about. Are you still with me?

BSJ III (by b r o o k l y n t w e e d)

As I said before, my schedule has taken a dramatic change this week, in favor of my knitting. I should have a normal life for a while, which means I can actually check e-mail (crazy, right?), read blogs, and best of all knit. I have a lot of catch-up to do, but things are looking up. Thanks to all of you for sticking with me through this sadly sparse year. Onward and upward.

Well, I’m officially on Spring Break and feel like I can actually take a nice deep breath, knit profusely, and talk about it. So today I get to share with you some of the knitting fun that has been sporadically plodding along behind the scenes.

The most exciting undertaking to have begun in the last couple of weeks is the second project in the ongoing process of project provocation that Adrian and I seem to continually dish out, or as we officially call it, our 2-Person-Knit-a-long.

I think we’ve probably been waxing poetic about Alice Starmore’s Na Craga [via Ravelry] pattern for well over a year. Armed with lots of wool (this thing is a beast) it’s a wonder that we’ve finally taken the plunge and started the knitting. I can’t tell you how good it feels to have tweedy cables back in my life.

Gimme The Good Stuff

We’re both heavily modifying it from its sack-like origins. Since the fabric is thick like a jacket, and I’m pre-disposed to being warm, this is undergoing a full cardiganization. I also have hopes of making it hooded, the thought of which makes me positively giddy, but this of course all depends on how much yarn I have. Yarn which, as naturally happens, is discontinued.

Twisted Ribbing

I’m dipping into my last sweaters-worth of the lovely Skye Tweed from Classic Elite (may she rest in peace). This will be my third sweater with this yarn… wow, maybe it’s good that I’m being forced to move on?

I’ll be doing the standard seamless treatment on this one too, meaning lovely knitting done all in one piece, just the way I like it. Rather than steeking this time around, I’m knitting back and forth (all the cabling happens on even rows, so it’s nice and clean) with a buttonband worked in as I go.

Cables Everywhere

The cables in this thing are spectacular – those cheese-grater-like honeycombs not only run up the body, but also right up the center of the sleeves and flow into one of the best saddle-shoulders I think I’ve ever seen. The braided plait cables, while being the biggest hand-haters of any motif in the pattern, look so good I can’t complain (that much). And how about that twisted ribbing?! It really makes it.

Knitting a sweater like this is always an up and down saga, but so far we haven’t had any major snags, aside from sometimes being so brain dead at the end of the day that the thought of even looking at the thing sometimes seems outside of my human capacity. In these cases, it’s good to have a back up. To that end, I’m still plugging away on my ginormous garter stitch afghan which I can now safely use to keep me warm whilst I work on it – a huge bonus in my book.


I’m getting out of the city for the week and couldn’t be happier. For those of you who are lucky enough to get a break this week – I hope you enjoy! Tomorrow my knitting and I will be spending some quality time on a train speeding along the Hudson and away from Gotham. Have a great week!

I’m happy to finally share my most recent “real” sweater project with you. I’ve been knitting lace and other smaller woolies for so long that I’m getting pretty starved for sweater knitting. I’m devoting the rest of my vacation time to the Pi shawl but back in Brooklyn sweaters are gonna be back on center stage.

Big Blue

This sweater was a collaboration between knitter and recipient – we merged ideas and I imposed my Seamless tendencies on all possibilities that were presented. I knit the majority of this beast in the Fall but didn’t get around to choosing buttons (and sewing them on, my least favorite part of any cardigan) until a few weeks back. Brooklyn’s first snowfall prompted the photoshoot and the sweater has been in regular rotation for a few weeks already.

Big Blue

Pattern: My Own
Materials: Beaverslide McTaggart Tweed in “Big Sky Heather” (100% wool)
Amount: 8 skeins (1680 yards)
Needles: US9/5.5mm Addi Turbos
Gauge: 15 sts to 4 inches
Buttons: 7 Leather Cased Buttons from M & J Trimming

Started: July 2007
Finished: September 2007 (Knitting); December 2007 (Officially)


Big Blue

About the Pattern: The sweater is a cardigan knit in the round, back and forth (yes, I purled) with a shirt yoke (one of two seamless hybrid variations) a la Elizabeth Zimmermann. The yoke is my favorite part of the sweater – I wasn’t sure how it would work out with a chunky yarn, but it turned out just right. I’ve yet to find a pair of shoulders that this style of yoke doesn’t suit wonderfully. My first one is a fit-superstar in my sweater collection. I still marvel at how those shoulder stitches travel horizontally across the body – amazing!

Big Blue

The collar and button band were knit last, after body, sleeves and yoke. I picked up stitches around the collar opening and knitted straight for a few inches for the stand-up collar and the picked up and worked the buttonband in a 2×2 rib to finish everything off. For anyone thinking about a vertical ribbed buttonband, I love how it turned out – and don’t judge it until you block it, it will behave very nicely for you. I extended the 2×2 ribbing up the underarms to make the sweater a bit more fitted for the body type. It also adds a nice little design detail.

Big Blue

As for the yarn, I know I’ve said it before but this is one of my favorites – probably one of the best values out there. It’s the same stuff I knit my Tomten out of earlier this year and I’ll tell ya – it wears just as nice as it knits. Not only is there color palette unmatched for nature-tone lovers, but the yardage alone is unbelievable. For a thicker yarn, you won’t believe how light it feels. It blocks beautifully and can take some serious real-world wear and tear. Yes, Beaverslide has a big fat BT stamp of approval for anyone who is considering it.

Big Blue

All told, I’m very happy with how it turned out – and it always sweetens the deal when you see a non-knitter wearing a handknit on a regular basis. As I mentioned before, revisiting this project has sparked my interest in going back for round 2 on any one of my multiple half-knit sweaters. Unfortunately they’re all about 3000 miles away. I’ll have to settle for lace and colorwork for another week… nothing to complain about I suppose.

Hope everyone is warm and relaxed with knitting nearby. Don’t feel bad about wrapping up an unfinished knit tomorrow morning – it still means a lot! Merry Christmas to all.

Here’s a Christmas present that was given early to my mom when she was visiting after Thanksgiving. New York is colder than Washington state, so we both agreed it was a good choice for early gifting.

It’s another classic Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern to add to the ever-growing collection I’ve started.


Pattern: Ribwarmer by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Source: Knitting Workshop
Yarn: Rowan Scottish Tweed Chunky in “Lobster”; 3 skeins
Needles: US 10.5/6.5mm KnitPicks Options Circulars
Buttons: 2 black marbled toggles from M&J Trimming

Started and Finished: Late last summer (planning ahead is rare, but awesome)


Ribwarmer Collar Detail

Modifications: The original pattern is written for worsted weight but I really had my heart set on using this chunky red tweed that I had in my stash. I did some pretty simple calculations to change the counts for a thicker yarn although in retrospect I think the vest would be pretty nice as-written with a chunkier yarn. My mom is a tiny little woman so this fit her perfectly, but I don’t think the modifications made a huge difference for the intended size since the chunky yarn needs more ease than worsted anyway.

Ribwarmer Collar Detail

I trimmed the whole thing with I-cord and tried invisible I-cord buttonholes a la EZ which are really fun. The vest is knit in two pieces – the right side and left side (this was the predecessor of Elizabeth’s “Rorschach Sweater”) and seamed up the back after knitting (see picture below). All shaping is done using short-row-style mitered corners and as usual its all garter stitch, which means no purls allowed.

Ribwarmer Collar Detail

This is a quick knit – great for gifts if you’ve already exhausted someone with hats or scarves over the years. Also, this piece technically fits in the sweater category… so you’ll get extra brownie points for that. In true EZ fashion the pattern is so clever that it’s sure to keep you interested all the way through, even on a deadline.


I have three days of trials left and then we’re hopping on a plane and flying far far away from The Big Apple. Here’s wishing you minimal stress over the next 10 days. I’m shooting to have one more sweater for you before Christmas – stay tuned!

My recent persistence with Elizabeth Zimmermann patterns and garter stitch in general have, in some way or another, all sprung from this inspiring wonder-project. Knitting the Adult Tomten was such a perfect balance of desirable knitting attributes, that I really miss working on it: mindless stitch pattern combined with interesting, architectural shaping, an amazing natural wool tweed which never got tiresome to look at or work with, a chunky enough yarn to consistently show progress no matter how short a time spent knitting, and above all, the idea of a comfy, thick, sproingy hooded jacket to envelop a wool-starved frame when the glorious cold finally comes back to us.

Tomten II

Pattern: Adult Tomten Jacket
By: Elizabeth Zimmermann
Source: The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting w/o Tears, and Knitting Workshop
Materials: Beaverslide Fisherman-Weight McTaggart Tweed
Amount: 8 skeins in ‘Mountain Mahogany’; 1 partial skein in ‘Autumn Dogwood’
Needles: 5.0mm/US8 Addi Turbos

Start Date: 29 May 2007
Finish Date: 25 June 2007
(Buttons added July 3, 2007)

Tomten III

First things first, a little background info on the Tomten. Elizabeth conceived and knit the first Tomten Jacket for her infant son in 1940. The pattern as we know it (more or less) was released in 1961 in Elizabeth’s 7th newsletter (reprinted with the rest of the collection in The Opinionated Knitter). The pattern has taken on variations over the years from both Elizabeth and Meg and made its way into two more classic publications: Knitting Without Tears, and Knitting Workshop. Tomten, the jacket’s namesake, is a small Swedish elf who specializes in good deeds. According to Elizabeth, “your child will resemble him strangely, if you put a Tomten jacket on him or her.” What do you think? Is it Elf-ish enough for you?

Tomten IV
Modifications: Although EZ provides ‘sizing’ for an adult version – it’s basically the same pattern worked in Sheepsdown, her superbulky weight wool (2-3sts/in). Despite wanting to knit a jacket in something a bit lighter than Sheepdown (I worked with fisherman weight wool), I knew I wanted to make some pretty major changes to the pattern to fit the proportions and shapes of an adult.

Elizabeth’s pattern is a modular piece (she’s nothing if not clever) – all numbers both vertical and horizontal are divisible by 4. This makes for intuitive and logical knitting… but also for a sort of boxy fit (great for the little ones!). Especially where armhole depth is concerned. Early on I decided to more or less throw the magic number out the window and knit to my measurements. Although I did choose to keep the signature ‘quarters’ for armholes and body/neck opening (detailed below), after all – it wouldn’t be a Tomten without those.

Adult Tomten Jacket - Buttonband Detail

The Tomten has DEEP armholes. When you reach the underarms, you basically divide the sweater into quarters: one quarter each for the armholes, leaving half of the sweater’s stitches left over the middle for working front and back of the body. After working body fronts and back to desired armhole depth, you join them again into the round and work straight on to form that wonderful hood. While the construction is rather genius, you may notice that it leaves quite a ginormous neck opening. Half of your body circumference to be exact. And a 21″ neck opening was just a tad much for me. Lets not even imagine the cavernous neck-openings on a men’s XL.

Adult Tomten Jacket - Hood Detail

Neck Opening & Hood Mods: To address the neck opening issue and prepare for a nice smooth hood transition I did a few things. First, I threw in some v-neck shaping about 6 inches before shoulder tops. Since I was planning a wide button band to encircle the entire outer length of the hood and body, a v-neck seemed the smartest way of smoothly feeding the band onto the hood with ease. And no mitering or lumpy corners! Next, to give it a bit of structure I added two short shoulder seams at the top – this was also a way of shaving off excess width at the neck. On either side of body front and back, instead of joining the whole thing into the round, I did a 3 needle bind off over 10 stitches on either side (5 sts from front, 5 sts from back). This alone took away 20 stitches from the neck opening which for me was 5 inches. That landed me right around my target neck opening of about 16″. To add a bit more sturdiness I chose to bind off at the neck as you would a regular pullover, rather than knitting directly the live neck opening stitches to form the hood. This creates a less stretchy neck opening. Combined with the small shoulder seams (3 needle bind-off makes a nice strong seam, even over 10 measly stitches) the structure at the shoulders and neck made something much more wearable, and durable to boot.

To make the hood then, I picked up stitches from the bound-off neck. I wanted a less trunk-ish hood that sort of hugged the neck a bit in the back. The first time I tried the hood I followed the pattern, increasing evenly over the first 14 rows until desired depth. After I finished it, however, I really didn’t like it. Still too wide at the base, even despite the neck decreases employed earlier. I ripped it and made some modifications to the second version that I like very much. The most important was a sharp decrease across the back of the hood about a half inch after picking up neck stitches. I really wanted it to fit the contour of an actual human neck, so pulling it in just above the shoulders worked like a charm. After three rows of garter, I decreased 10 stitches evenly across the back half of the hood in one row. With my new counts I worked even for about 4-5 inches before beginning the hood increases (I just measured my neck and head to see when to start increasing.) When I worked to my desired hood depth (about 13.5″), I short rowed the last 3 rows to curve the top point just a bit. In the end, I was really glad I ripped and re-knit (aren’t we always!?) because the 2nd hood fits great. Oh – and instead of a three-needle bind off, I did a garter stitch graft to join the top of the hood – you can’t even tell there’s a seam there! I love that graft.

Adult Tomten Jacket - Sleeve Cap Detail

Armhole & Sleeve Mods: The armhole and sleeve cap modification is probably the most major change I made to the pattern. I explained in some detail the process here, if you’d like to review. Basically, I worked the deep armholes back and forth until I was about two-inches from consuming all armhole stitches (more or less I left underarm stitches to equal 8% of body circumference on a holder while working the sleeve caps, following a standard EPS seamless). I then began working a top-down set-in sleeve a la Barbara Walker in her masterpiece, starting with a third of the armhole stitches and working short rows back and forth, consuming an additional armhole stitch at the end of each row. It’s really a genius little technique – I’m happy I got another chance to work it here. Of course because of the unique row gauge of garter stitch, I had to employ a decreasing scheme to work whilst doing the short rows on the cap. It was a bit like a knitting circus act, but in the end it worked out perfect. I’m really happy with how they fit. The picture above gives a nice little visual to the construction

Adult Tomten Jacket - Buttons

Details and Trimmings: The buttons called to me – so I ignored their price tag. They’re medium sized horn carved buttons, a deep warmish brown with lighter brown marbling. I’m really happy how they turned out. Toggles were a contender, but traditional buttons won out in the end.

Adult Tomten Jacket - Cuff Detail

Among the many reasons for which I love this pattern, I really like the options you have for trimming with a contrast color. The ‘suspender’ strips are a unique feature made possible by those deep, square armholes – I couldn’t pass them up. I snagged a contrast color when I placed my order for the wool and just sort of developed the accents as I went. I like the idea of trimming the sleeve cuffs for a little definition. Since the whole thing is in garter, the nice visual weight of cuff ribbing or textured stitches that we usually have when knitting a stockinette sweater wasn’t really an option. Contrasting cuffs worked just fine though. I also liked the idea of trimming the entire hood and body with one continuous, thin strip of the contrast color. This is probably my favorite accent of all. I went back and forth on whether or not I thought an I-cord bind-off fit in with the sweater’s look. In the end I decided to mimic an I-Cord bind off by working one ridge of garter stitch around the entire body/hood area in the contrast color, then bind off in purl from the RS. I’m really loving how it looks.

The last little accent I wanted to mention are the ‘reverse seams.’ On the tops of sleeves and ‘seams’ of the body, I threw in a vertical strip of Slip Stitch Stockinette. In other words, on every WS row I slipped the seam stitch with the yarn forward. This is what creates those neat little ridges running over the shoulder and down to the cuff. Some versions of the Tomten in The Opinionated Knitter have this detail, although I couldn’t find it written in any version of the pattern.

Tomten I

My longest post ever? Probably. There’s so much to say about this sweater, I’m impressed if you made it through and I’m sure I’ve forgotten something. Overall, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I turn the A/C on in the apartment just to wear it. It seems I’ve been meaning to make a hooded sweater for years – I guess I don’t need to feel bad about that any longer!

Big thanks to Adrian of HelloYarn for mutually spurning this project into motion (keep your eye on her, she’s bound to drop her stunning version on us one of these days soon) as well as to my big bro for modeling the sweater during our Oregon Coast camping trip (the outdoor shots). For those of you wanting to make Tomten your own, feel free to e-mail me with questions. E-mail works better than comments (don’t you just love Blogger?). I set up a gallery full of my Tomten pictures here, because there are so many of them! – feel free to peruse. This sweater really is priceless to me at this point so I’d be happy to watch the Adult Tomten Ministry spread!

Onward and upward.

Among the numerous and frequent moments of epiphany, gratitude and sheer awe inspired in each knitter by Elizabeth Zimmermann, none, I believe, is as poignant as the one experienced when you fold together your first BSJ.

Baby Surprise Jacket

Pattern: (the infamous) Baby Surprise Jacket
Author: Elizabeth Zimmermann
Source: The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Workshop
Gauge: 5 sts per inch
Materials: Hello Yarn Handspun 2-Ply
Colors: “Trodden” and “Hunkered
Amount: 5.3 ounces/306 yds
Buttons: 5 Iridescent Shell buttons from M&J Trimming in midtown Manhattan; Five


Finished Measurements: 18.5″ Chest (Buttoned), 19″ from cuff to cuff, 11.5″ Height

Started: 7 June 2007
Finished: 9 June 2007
(Buttons Added 17 June 2007)


Baby Surprise Jacket (Back Detail)

I did this one pretty much exactly by the book – no modifications. I familiarized myself as best I could with just exactly what is going on with this pattern, and while I felt I was able to grasp the concept well enough – you really don’t get it until you do it. And do it again. This one is addictive!

Baby Surprise Jacket

Aside from the inspired pattern, joining it with such a special yarn really made this experience priceless. I knit this on the train ride up to Rhinebeck a few weekends ago. With the Hudson gliding by outside my window, I had one of those elevated knitting moments where everything comes together a little too well.

Baby Surprise Jacket (Button Detail)

The buttons were a perfect match – they’re shell buttons that reflect all the blues and purples of Adrian’s handspun. I originally planned on something a little more earthy, but when I saw these I changed my mind. I default to wood buttons too often anyway.

Baby Surprise Jacket

I’m stating the obvious, but this one gets a big, fat stamp of approval from me. I’ve already started scheming future versions from some of my more exciting stash bits.

We’re headed out to the Oregon Coast to camp for the next few days (!!!) so I’ll be away from e-mail. Despite being on vacation, I did recognize that this morning is Monday, which is usually not fun at all – I hope this little BSJ Offering rounds out the edges of the week jolting you back into reality. Happy Knitting!

Coming to you live from Portland with the first of two miniature EZ garments. There has been a whole lotta crazy surrounding this project – I had to dig into my archives to review its evolution from skein to sweater. Who knew something so tiny could brew for so long?

February Baby Sweater

Pattern: February Baby Sweater, aka Baby Sweater on 2 Needles
Source: Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Sundara Yarn Worsted Merino Semi-Solid
Color: Pine over Yellow
Amount: 137g/240 yards worsted weight
Needles: US 8/5mm Addi Turbos
Buttons: marbled plastic, 5 purchased from M&J Trimming in midtown



I started the first version of this sweater last Fall but ran out of yarn sometime in October. Sundara gave me a generous fill-up in December, and I chose to restart the project on bigger needles (I was using US 6′s) in the new, slightly different dye lot. (There was a little snafu on the skein winder at this point) By February, I had two of these little things on my needles (fitting month for this, no?) and was on my way. I ended up finishing the knitting in March, showing you the almost finished item in May and finally got around to buying buttons and sewing them on last week. How’s that for long winded?

February Baby Sweater/Baby Sweater on 2 Needles (EZ)

Mods: I modified the ‘virtually seamless’ pattern into a completely seamless pattern using circular needles (rather than the suggested straights) thusly: Once you’ve reached the divide for the armholes, work the sleeves first from the top down, casting on underarm stitches and joining sleeves into the round (EZ has you work them flat). After sleeve knitting, begin again working the body from where you left it, picking up underarm stitches from the sleeve tubes when you get to them (rather than casting on underarm stitches on the body). No seams in the end (not even the tiny little underarm openings)! Other than that, everything was by the book.

Add this one to the ever-growing ranks of this wonderful pattern. I never tire seeing this little number popping up all over our knitting blog landscape.

Some Baby Things

Another EZ sweater is comin’ atcha in a couple of days. For now, it’s back to coffee and the dog on this beautiful summery day in PDX.

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.

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)


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!)


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.

Well it has indeed been an eventful month on my needles.I must say that this has positively been the most exclusive I think I’ve ever been with my knitting.In retrospect I think that is probably the result of a rare combination of things: just the right balance of freedom and interest from the pattern, an available amount of time for some serious knitting (a luxury!) and a heavy love for the wool involved.Either way, here she is, already for you…

Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan 1

Pattern: Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan by Elizabeth Zimmermann/Meg Swansen
Source: Wool Gathering #63 (School House Press)
Materials: Classic Elite Skye Tweed in Spruce Green/1215.
Amount: Twelve and a half 50gm balls.Approximately 550 gms/1300 yards worsted weight
Needles: US8 Circular 32″ Addi Turbos.US 7 for sleeve cuffs and garter band at base of sweater

Start Date: 10 March 2007
Finish Date: 9 April 2007

Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan 5

Modifications: When it comes to knitting with Elizabeth Zimmermann, I guess everything is a modification in some sense.Although I guess the word ‘modification’ implies the presences of a fixed starting point, which we don’t have here in Wool Gathering. What we do have, though i a few pages of solid good sense and enough structural advice to get your creative juices flowing.

At the base of this pattern is, of course, EZ’s seamless recipe for a saddle shoulder pullover.I’ve worked many a Zimmermann seamless, but this is the first time I’ve conquered an official Saddle-Shoulder in its pure form.The fit alone has made me a believer – its a perfect match for those square-shouldered lanky types… ahem.

Of course, it’s more than your simple seamless saddle, with a spattering of many a beautiful cable panel and the excitement of that steekall things that intrigued me to the very end.

Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan 3

I primarily stuck with the cable advice suggested in the pattern – the Sheepsfold Cables (the ribbon-like traveling stitch panel) and the Fishbone Cables are such classic EZ features that I couldn’t resist.Not to mention all the garter.Garter glutton here, and proud to admit it.As for the back panel, it’s a slight modification that I ripped off from the magnificent Na Craga pattern by Alice Starmore (the combination of these two knitting gurus was enough to make me all aflutter in the designing stages, it’s true).It’s a basic horseshoe cable ascending up the center with smaller horseshoe cables mirrored on either side and facing the opposite vertical direction.I really love how it turned out (see below).The underarm panels are a combination of the fishbone and the smaller horseshoe. All these panels together with a bunch of twisted stitch (ktbl) dividers strewn about came together in a great way.

Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan 2

A word on the construction sequence: I did your standard formula of body first, two sleeves, unite at underarms and shape yoke until bind off at collar.The Saddle Shoulder formula leaves a rather square-ish neck, I played this down a bit by shaping the back neck with shortrows.This was totally a freeform operation but did serve well to raise the back neck an inch or so, which was exactly what I needed.After I had the major part of knitting out of the way, I wet blocked the whole thing then cut it into its cardigan form (and rambled non-stop about it. Just check my March archives).After all this I went back and picked up stitches along the base of the sweater with a smaller needle (US7) and worked a 2 inch garter stitch band.Rather than start with this way back at the beginning of the sweater, I liked the idea of picking up stitches after blocking (also I was slightly worried about running out of yarn.The garter stitch base was an option I kept open for that reason). Finally, I worked the button band and collar altogether in garter stitch, mitering the corners at the neck. I wet blocked again just for posterity before sewing the buttons on. To answer some of your questions about the facings – I do plan on sewing them down, solely for the sake of a thorough finish, although I haven’t done so yet. The photos you see here feature unsewn facings (not pictured, as they’re on the inside of the piece).

Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan 4

I really dig doing the buttonband this way.I like changing things up a little with a vertical garter stitch band, and its integration with the collar I think also is a unique quality.Working the buttonband vertically also makes it possible to place the buttonholes exactly where they should go, evenly spaced and all, since you know exactly how many total stitches there are from the very first row.Speaking of buttonholes, have you ever tried EZ’s one-row buttonhole (explained in KA and KwoT, and I’m sure others)?This is my first time using this method and I’m completely sold.It’s brilliant! (Are you surprised, though? really?)

Saddle Shoulder Aran Cardigan 6

In closing, I felt I should mention that the completion of this sweater has been met with such a mixed bag of feelings for me.Accomplishment and satisfaction surely are first and foremost… but to be honest I sort of feel like someone died.This is the unfortunate curse that plagues the process knitters of the world I guess – but I am acutely aware of the absence of this sweater in my day-to-day routine now. At this point, on such an involved project I would usually be shouting to the hills in excitement for the freedom to move on. There’s some sort of postpartum wool withdrawal happening. I guess when you’re really in the zone with Elizabeth and Meg, this is par for the course.

Shout Out to Liz


I guess all I can do is go back to the source… give me some more of the good stuff, Liz!