Knitting Notes, Project Ideas

A Tale of Two Sweaters and some other knitting notes

Despite that I’ve been seemingly knitting more slowly lately, I feel like I’ve been a very productive knitter and have had some marvelous revelations that I felt the need to share.

If you’re in and out of the shop, you may know that I recently completed a shop sample, the Mitchell poncho made of Shibui’s new yarn Vine.  Vine is a crisp blend of paper, cotton and silk.  I’ll be completely honest and admit that I did not love working with this yarn.  Like linen, it seemed to have a mind of its own.  I marched through the project, intent on completing it in time for the NJ Wool Walk.  Upon finishing it, I blocked it, tacked it and it was if it transformed.  I brought the sample to work and admitted to Patty that I am probably going to want to steal this one back some day.

That’s the thing about certain fibers or knitting projects.  Sometimes we enjoy the entire process, making it and wearing it (or gifting it to a very knit-worthy loved-one).  Sometimes we enjoy the knitting, but the finished product is underwhelming (I have a fair share of these experiences).  Sometimes (as with the Mitchell poncho) the knitting itself isn’t pure joy, but the finished product is so marvelous that it makes it all worth it.  I’m okay with these projects that don’t fulfill me completely from start to finish.  Oftentimes the most rewarding outcomes have the most challenging process – in knitting and life.  It’s a good exercise in knitting that can reinforce an appreciation for those rough patches.

Mariechen Progress
Isabell Kraemer’s new pattern Mariechen using Kokon Merino DK

Now I’m working on one of those projects that is pure delight.  I’m headed off on vacation next week, and I was pumped for some selfish knitting.  However, when an opportunity presented itself to make a sample with Kokon Merino DK, I jumped.  This delightful yarn comes from ethically raised sheep in South Africa, dyed in the Netherlands before it arrives at your favorite LYS.  Within 24 hours of receiving our shipment, Isabell Kraemer released a new pattern featuring this yarn: Mariechen, a seamless cardigan with a textured lace front.  The knitting universe was handing me a lay-up.

I started working on this project immediately and I am obsessed.  The yarn is round and has a ton of twist.  It reminds me of Arbor in its texture and that it brings me pure delight when I knit with it.  Like Arbor, it’s a breeze to knit with and seems to jump off your needles.  Unlike Vine, it’s a very obedient yarn and does just what it’s told.  Kokon Merino DK is hand-dyed, so unlike Arbor with it saturated hues, its incredible palette has a bit of depth and just a hint of texture to it.

Mariechen
Mariechen by Isabell Kraemer

Meanwhile, Mariechen is pure fun.  Its seamless top-down construction means that the beginning is the “tough part.”  I’m in the middle of raglan shaping and establishing the textured pattern chart, so I’m working raglan increases at the same time as working the front patterns.  The textured pattern is established quickly and its easy to read what comes next.  The cardigan fronts are the only part with patterns that require attention.  Therefore, I have smooth, easy knitting on the sleeves and back, and some rhythmic counting for the fronts.

In her knitting notes Kraemer says “…took me a while to listen to the yarn….but in the end it told me what to do….”  Clearly Kokon Merino DK is the perfect yarn for this project, but if you can’t get your hands on it, Brooklyn Tweed’s Arbor is your next best bet!

Ives by Jared Flood
Ives © Jared Flood/Brooklyn Tweed

My last knitting story of the day comes via Brooklyn Tweed.  Last year I knit up Ives in Brooklyn Tweed Loft.  I’d had my eye on the pattern for a long time, and I finally resolved to make it as it appeared to be a simple straightforward knit.  It’s a cowl-neck pullover with a high-low hem and dolman sleeves in stockinette.  It turned out to be quite complicated as it was worked side-to-side.  I had to keep extensive notes and keep careful track of the multiple sets of shaping that I worked simultaneously and at different rates.  I was delightfully immersed  in the project, but it was not a project I could do without the my knitting notebook.  I absolutely adore the finished piece.  I’m complimented on it often and I tend to caution knitters about the complexity of it.  It’s all worth it, but I don’t want to pretend it was easy.

Cottonwood by Tayler Harris
Tayler Harris’ Cottonwood Pullover

Fast-forward a year and I was gifted some beautiful yarn and I found a pattern, the Cottonwood pullover, that is aesthetically very similar to Ives. It doesn’t have a high-low hem and its neck is more like a turtleneck than a cowl.  However, it’s dolman sleeves and its shape is strikingly similar to Ives (and it’s worked at the same gauge).  Also, the Cottonwood pullover is effortless to knit.  The front and back of Cottonwood is worked from bottom-up.  The shaping is symmetrical and easy to follow.  The two pieces are seamed together, then the neck and sleeves are picked up and worked in 2×2 Ribbing.  It was a totally relaxing sweater to make, and a gift at a time when I was so busy.

As I finish up this post, I’m sitting here wearing my newly-finished/much-adored Cottonwood pullover. Before Mariechen was published, I had planned to make a shop sample of it using Kokon Merino DK – and it does happen be a lovely yarn choice for this project.  Given its similarity to Ives, I’m tempted to make it in Loft, just to show the similarities and differences of these two sweaters.  Seams will keep this sweater in check, so the world is your oyster when it comes to yarn choice.  Also consider Arbor, a Shibui combo like Lunar + Pebble, Criative DK, Dromedary, or Baby Alpaca.

I love that knitting gives us an opportunity to coast as often as it gives us an opportunity for challenge.  Pick your project based on what you need.  Your brain will thank you if you take a challenge, but sometimes we all need a little R&R.

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