Five things I learned knitting Bressay (and the finished article)

My Bressay is done. I thought I might never write that sentence! I began this sweater in … April 2019 as a knitalong with my pal Jenni. By the time Willa arrived on the scene in October, the plain portions of the body and sleeves were long done, but the colorwork (which starts before the sleeves and body are joined for the yoke) was nonexistent. And I figured it’d remain that way for quite some time. But I slowly chipped away at it and now, five months after Willa joined the family, the jumper is done. I’m calling that a win!

I’m pretty excited I’ve finished this sweater. Willa, less so.

In a minute, I’m going to tell you just how much I love this sweater. This is by far the biggest colorwork project I’ve done, with the most colors, so first I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned along the way.

1. There’s a better way to splice, and I’m using it on every colorwork project from here on out, forever and ever.

img_8003-1

This sweater is knit out of Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift, a 100% wool, woollen spun yarn … it’s practically begging to be spliced! But if I’m honest, splicing always causes me a bit of anxiety (ever since I had a splice come undone 6 inches back in a colorwork Lopi sweater). I often avoid it or think of it as a technique that’s really hard to get right. So when I began the colorwork sections, I was splicing when I could really focus on it — which was for maybe 1 in 5 color changes — and using the method I’d learned ages ago. And then I had another splicing tragedy — a splice came undone several 300+ stitch rounds back. At which point I paused, watched this AC Knitwear video and kicked myself for not doing it sooner. Jen’s method, which involved folding a ply from each yarn back on itself (which I had never done before) results, for me, in a much more secure join — and lots less splicing anxiety. I used it for the last portion of the yoke (you can see in the below photo there are almost no ends left to weave in the final section near the neck) — and I will never not splice again. Because life is too short to weave in this many ends if you can avoid it.

2. When you’re knitting a project that involves 11 shades, you should probably swatch …

This is pretty self explanatory. Bressay features ten contrast shades, in addition to the main color. I loved the original but wanted to try to pick my own colors (I had a lot of fun doing it with my lovely friend Jenni at Northern Yarn!) While I checked gauge in stockinette, I couldn’t bring myself to check my yoke colors … it just seemed like such a big undertaking! As a result, I got to the middle section of the yoke and ended up being unhappy with some choices … and belatedly doing a mini swatch! I probably would have saved myself some time if I’d just done a great big swatch to begin with!

3. … but if you don’t, it’ll probably be alright.

All that being said though, the decision to not swatch almost worked out fine. I used the first sleeve as a swatch and was prepared to rip back and tweak (which I did). When I started questioning some choices on the yoke, I did some quick duplicate stitching to test a minor color swap before I committed to reswatching and ripping out. The great thing about Spindrift is the beautiful heathered shades meld together really nicely, making choosing many colors to go together a bit less daunting!

4. Stitch markers are your (my) friends.

I kept getting to the end of majorly long rounds only to find I’d made a one stitch mistake that I’d then have to go hunting for. It should have occurred to me earlier, but using stitch markers to mark off the colorwork repeats made making mistakes a lot less likely, and finding them when they did happen much easier.

5. If you care about color dominance, you better keep some notes!

This is something else that is probably obvious, but I didn’t note which color I was keeping dominant in the charts when I started (because I would definitely remember, right?) As I carried on, it wasn’t always obvious to me what I’d done when it came time to repeat charts — small notes would have helped!

On a personal level, finishing this project has been a really lovely reminder that I can still complete bigger, more complex (for me at least!) knitting projects, it just might take a bit longer. I was worried I might never finish this jumper if I didn’t complete it before Willa came, and now it’s done … and I just adore it! All the dithering over colors, the tweaking, the stitches eked out here and there have been so worth it … this sweater just makes me so very, very happy!

Project details

Pattern: Bressay by Marie Wallin, from her book Shetland. (Side note: If you have the book, it’s worth emailing and asking for the digital copy — I did that and printed out enlarged charts, which I found really helpful).

Yarn: Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift. Pattern and yarn both from my lovely local, Northern Yarn. Kate’s got a fabulous range of Spindrift; it’s so nice to be able to go and play and choose colors in person, especially when so many are involved!

Modifications: I kept poor notes on my needle choices, but I went up one or two needle sizes for the colorwork sections, even though the pattern doesn’t advise it, as I know my colorwork knitting is always much tighter than plain stockinette. I also added a smidge of short row shaping after the completion of the colorwork yoke — I’m really happy with how they turned out. I swapped all the 1×1 ribbing for 2×2 ribbing. You can see all the colors I used and my rather paltry notes over on my Ravelry project page.

Willa’s unimpressed.

I made the second size, and I am so pleased with the easy fit of this. Loose, lightweight but warm (how I love the fabric that Spindrift creates!) … I think it’s going to be the perfect nearly year round sweater here in the northwest of England!

Finally a smile!

I’m not sure there’s much more to say about this, other than I love it, I think I’ll be wearing it tons, and it was a great learning experience! Oh and my adorable little assistant is wearing her lovely Antler Cardigan, a special gift from our lovely friend Jen — the pattern is by Tin Can Knits, and it was knit in ever-so-luxurious Something to Knit With Aran. Willa’s just grown into this, and I love putting her in it!

Hope wherever you are you are well, safe, and taking care … and have plenty of knitting to see you through whatever the next few weeks bring! Thanks as always for stopping by!

xo K

 

Continuing Threads

Our little one is four months old (how has that happened?!) and suffice it to say lots about our daily life has changed! Rare is the day, though, that I don’t manage at least a teeny bit of knitting, and even if my progress is much slower, I am really happy that there’s time for a few stitches (what will you think if I tell you that not being able to knit was one of my big anxieties prior to Miss W’s arrival?) Continue reading “Continuing Threads”

Yarnalong: Felix, The Familiars, and This Golden Fleece

Ahoy! I’m hoping to sweep out the cobwebs here (more on that in a later post) and get back to writing at least semi-regularly — and what better way to reenter than with a Yarnalong post!

Knitting: The Felix Cardigan by Amy Christoffers. My mom and I cast these on when she was visiting us and our new arrival a few weeks ago. Progress hasn’t been the fastest (see: new arrival + still working on other projects) but I divided for the sleeves last night and am looking forward to the shorter rows that will bring. I’m not used to using such big needles (knitting on a US 10/ 6 mm) and they’ve been a bit hard on my hands. But, left hand willing, I’m hoping to make enough progress to give this a quick try on today and make sure the fit in the shoulders is good!

I’m knitting this in the called for yarn, Green Mountain Spinnery’s Mountain Mohair, in shade Raven. I really like the deep charcoal and know it’ll be a great wardrobe staple. The single ply 75% wool 25% mohair blend makes a fabric that seems lofty but sturdy. I think it will make for a cardigan that’s warm but not as heavy as you might expect from a garment knit in worsted weight yarn.

Reading: I’ve got two books on the go at the moment. The first is This Golden Fleece, a really interesting combination of personal knitting memoir and Britain’s knitting and woolly history. I’m nearly halfway through, but with it being a hardback, I’m finding it easiest to read when I’m not holding or feeding a little babe — so progress is a bit slow. When I can catch time for a quick soak in the tub, reading a few more pages of this is a real treat!

The second book is The Familiars, historical fiction set in 17th-century Lancaster during the Pendle witch trials. Commemorations of the Pendle witches are everywhere around Lancaster, and I’m really enjoying reading something set where I live! I’m enjoying spending time with the first person narrator, even though the world she inhabits is a bit lonely and sad. Once I start reading it, it’s hard to put down … luckily, Mr N got me a Kindle for my birthday which makes it ever so much easier to read while breastfeeding!

Head on over the original Yarnalong to see what other knitters are working on and reading this week!

Finished Object: Southwell Cardigan

Hi friends, and happy weekend!  Today, I’m really happy to be sharing a finished object that’s been a long time in the making …. it’s my finished Southwell Cardigan!

2019-05-12 13.24.26.jpg

The Southwell Cardigan made it’s first appearance on the blog … let’s see … over 2 years ago! I was living in Philadelphia and had flown home to my parents for a little visit, and my mom and I cast these on together!

On and off progress continued on Southwell the following summer when I was in LA (including a bit of cardigan surgery), but by the time I arrived in Lancaster in late August, with temperatures already cool, I put the lightweight cardigan aside, thinking it wouldn’t be needed before the following spring.  And thus it was consigned to my heap of unfinished objects.

Then, spring did in fact come, and the cardi sat no nearer completion, I fished it out again, thinking what a great wardrobe staple it’d be through the British summer. I picked up collar stitches, I started a sleeve, I made plans to get the buttonband finished.  But once again, autumn came, the cardigan wasn’t done, and back to to the UFO bin it went.

Fast forward to this spring, a day or two before EYF.  My Threipmuir was fresh off the needles (yay!), and I found myself without a simple project to take for social knitting at EYF and remembered I was part way through a sleeve of my Southwell! So the cardigan came with me to the festival, and one sleeve got done. Then I packed it for my trip to the US and returned with only button bands to be done. By that point, not even my dislike of picking up stitches (or sewing on buttons) could stand in the way of finishing.

2019-05-12 13.23.21.jpg

And I have to say, I’m so glad I did.  I’ve worn this cardigan nearly every day since I finished it. The pattern is Southwell Cardigan by Marie Green, knit in Sherwood Yarns Bluefaced Leicester Sock in shade Holly Blue.  I think it was easy to keep shoving this aside as I’d started to wonder whether I liked this color, and the knitting wasn’t particularly exciting.  But now that it’s done, I’m really enjoying having a simple lightweight cardigan in my handmade wardrobe and have also been pleasantly surprised with how well the color, which is a bit out of my normal palette, fits in with the rest of my wardrobe.

2019-05-12 13.23.34
The cardigan is a great fit around the shoulders, but the knot in my overalls is making a funny bulge in this picture! 

I knit size 36 of this cardigan, and ended up using less than three skeins of yarn.  I knit this top down, raglan cardigan pattern (from what I can remember) pretty much as written.  Since I picked it up and put it down over, ahem, two years, there was a certain amount of guesswork getting things like sleeves to match up. I did alter the button band slightly. Following advice from Jen Arnall-Culliford, I picked up every stitch of the button band on the first row, then decreased down as needed.  I found that the suggested pick up rate of 9 out of 10 stitches gave me a button band that flared out, so decreased to something between 3 out of every 4 or 4 out of every 5.

2019-05-12 13.23.40

Before I sign off, I just want to take a final moment to celebrate the little buttons that grace this cardigan. Before we left Los Angeles, Mr. N and I took a trip over to West Hollywood to The Button Store, without a doubt the most impressive button shop I’ve ever been in.  I had several projects that would need buttons in what I thought was the near future, including this cardi, and the formidable woman who ran the place came out with drawer upon drawer of buttons to fit the bill.  I chose these little milled Italian buttons, and while I had a bit of a shock when we rang up my button purchases (I’ve never before or since paid so much for buttons — and I hadn’t thought to ask the price!), I have to say I am so pleased with how they look on the cardigan.  If you find yourself in Los Angeles and on the hunt for very nice buttons, I definitely recommend a visit (just please don’t tell the owner I used yarn to sew these on — she categorically forbade me from doing it, but I lost the spool of coordinating thread I got on the same visit!)

2019-05-12 13.23.25.jpg

Thanks, as always, for stopping by, and I hope you have a lovely weekend with a bit of knitting planned!

xo K

 

Around here, lately

I’ve been absent from this space lately — work and travel have kept me busy — but, thankfully, knitting hasn’t been missing from my daily life.  Today, how about a little catch up on some highlights from the last few months.

I finished my Threipmuir and wore it to Edinburgh Yarn Fest!

2019-03-24 12.34.24
Twinning with my lovely friend Jenni  in Ysolda’s EYF stall.

At last year’s EYF, Jenni, Kate, and I had all bought some beautiful Birlinn Yarn Company yarn for Threipmuir.  Jenni and Kate knit their beautiful versions shortly after the festival but, in typical fashion, I didn’t get around to it right away.  Finishing in time to wear it to EYF was a near run thing … the jumper was just dry from blocking in time to pack it!

Since it’s first outing at EYF, Threipmuir has been in constant rotation — so constant in fact, that I’ve never gotten around to doing “proper” finished objects shots. The upside of this is that after two months of pretty solid wear (the vagaries of spring in the Northwest mean that, even this week, I was reaching for this very woolly sweater), I can report that it is, hands down, my favorite jumper.  I absolutely adore the Birlinn Yarn Company Hebridean 4ply from which it’s knit (in fact, I might have bought another sweater’s worth at this year’s festival). I love the colorwork yoke. I love the easeful fit.  I think it will be the jumper against which I measure all other jumpers from here on out — both literally (the sleeve length is perfect) and figuratively!

EYF itself was great — time spent with good friends, meeting new people, and plenty of yarn buying.  I didn’t take many pictures, and don’t really think I could do justice to the whole experience, so I’m not even going to try!  I’ll talk about the yarn that came home with me as and when I use it though 🙂

Right after EYF, it was off to Paris with Mr. N.  It was a short trip for work, but we did get a free day to do a bit of exploring. I worked on recently cast on Pebbles and Pathways Socks in a Parisian park (how’s that for a tongue twister) …

2019-03-30 12.34.28.jpg

And paid a quick visit to La Bien Aimee!

2019-03-29 11.17.42.jpg

From Paris it was straight onto Virginia, where I spent a few lovely weeks with my mom. We took very few pictures, but cast on Olivias together:

2019-05-13 14.53.54.jpg
Olivia in progress, knit in Black Isle Yarns Shetland Sport from EYF 2018! 

And went through old knitting books in search of the pattern for this stunning cardigan, which my mom made shortly after she learned to knit:

2019-04-06 14.06.17.jpg

On my return, I had some lovely friends come to visit, then it was off to Brighton (another work trip), but that didn’t stop me needing something to knit!  Sleeves make such good travel knitting, that I, er, started another project … Bressay by Marie Wallin!

2019-05-13 14.52.34
I’m knitting the body in beautiful Jamieson of Shetland Spindrift, in the Paprika shade. 

Seeing it all written out, it’s no wonder I’ve not been blogging much (and, in the process managed to miss my three-year blogiversary!)  Though all the knits I’ve cast on during my travels remain, ahem, uncompleted, I did finish a longstanding WIP just last week … with any luck, I’ll have a finished object post to share later this week!

Until then, I better crack on with all these projects … especially as another trip to the US is coming up in just a few weeks!

Hope you had a great weekend — I’d love to hear what’s keeping you busy at the moment!

Yarnalong, January 2019: Waiting for Rain, Mondim Socks, and James Herriot

I’m in the midst of the last few days of our Australian holiday, so this will be short and sweet, but I wanted to pop in quickly for the first Yarnalong of 2019. 

Knitting: My knitting’s been coming along with me everywhere this trip. I finished my Doocot sweater the first week, so have been working on Waiting for Rain and some vanilla socks out of Mondim sock yarn ever since. It’s been a long time since I’ve not had a sweater actively on the go, and while I’m looking forward to getting back to garment knitting when we return to the UK, I’ve got to say, it’s been fun watching smaller projects grow quickly! I’m well into the second skein of my shawl, and my socks’ feet are nearly done. I’ve had a new idea for a little sock design, and I’m wondering if I should try it out on the leg or  keep them simple. 

Reading: I had high hopes for holiday reading, but most evenings I’ve nodded off before I can make much progress. But I’ve made a small start with James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small which I’m really enjoying. It’s funny and gentle and a perfect light read to see in the new year. 

Head over to the original Yarnalong post  to see what others are knitting and reading — what are you up to this week?

Goodbye 2018, Hello 2019

Hi friends!

Hope you’ve been having a happy and restful festive season.  I don’t tend to do big year-end round up posts of what I’ve made (I like to save that for my blogiversary).  But 2018 has been a big year, and I thought it’d be fun, as the new year dawns , to look back on some of the highlights of this year and make a few plans for the upcoming one!

Knitting-wise, 2018 was a year of firsts.  I massively enjoyed my first ever Edinburgh Yarn Festival, spending it with old and new friends.  I taught my first knitting classes. I occasionally helped out at my favorite local yarn shop, Northern Yarn. I also got to work my first knitting festival at Yarndale on the NY stand and received the most special wedding blanket from lovely friends while there! And I released my first ever knitting pattern  — something I never thought I’d do!

_DSC5226

Personally, it was a big year as well of course: settling into UK life, submitting my dissertation, and, most memorably, Mr. N and I tying the knot — and then celebrating throughout the rest of the year with our families and friends.

I’m looking forward to seeing what 2019 holds and sharing more crafty adventures here.  As ever, I’ve got a queue to knit that could see me through several years, but I’m also hoping to carve a bit of time out to learn to sew, do a bit more designing, and hopefully get into some more new fiber-y adventures!

But for now, I thought I’d start 2019 with my “Make Nine.”  Unlike last year, I’ve actually tried to pick just nine things, and I’ve included a few smaller projects in the hopes of making it achievable.  And there’s a blank spot in the grid to represent the designs I want to work on! IMG_5868.JPG

Top Row, from left: Threipmuir by Ysolda Teague (I’m looking forward to casting it on when I get home in Birlinn Yarn Company yarn from EYF 2018); Log Cabin Mitts by Karen Templer; and Flaum by Justyna Lorkowska (also to be knit in EYF 2018 yarn)

Middle: Houlland by Donna Smith; Còinneach by Kate Davies; Olivia by Julie Weisenberger.

Bottom: Fjer by Fiber Tales and Tettegouche by Virginia Sattler-Reimer.

It’ll all probably change, but I do love a bit of project planning! Do you already have any projects planned for the New Year?

Hope you’ve had a happy and peaceful festive season, with a bit of time for knitting.

xo K