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Saturday, December 27, 2014

My second knitted skirt - the Bryn Mawr Skirt

Remember how I once said that fall/winter issues for knitting magazines are a 'gimme?' I was thinking of the Interweave Knits Fall 2011 issue, with its gorgeous cover and chunky yarn. When it first arrived in the mail I fell in love with the Bryn Mawr skirt and cast it on immediately.

But because I was, once again, between sizes, and because after my bad experience with the last skirt (which won't stay up) I was wary of the waist, I cast on the smaller size for the waist. I'd meant to increase it to the larger size once I finished the waistband ribbing but...I forgot. So I knit the whole damned thing, tried it on, and had a mini skirt. A very clingy mini skirt. Eeps.

Not what I wanted - at all.

So it sat in my 'to be fixed' pile for *hangs head in shame* years. Until this year when I saw that knitted skirts were 'in' again, and I remembered how much I loved the color, and I decided to rip it out and start over.

I didn't rip out the whole thing, just up to about four inches below the waist. Since it's knit in a chunky yarn it's a quick knit, and it took me about two weeks to fix. I ended up keeping the smallest size cast on for the waist and increasing even more to the third size up for the hip. I just wasn't getting the A-line shape pictured in the magazine.

It's important to note that the A-line shape really came out after blocking. When I'd finished knitting it I still wasn't happy, and considered ripping it out again, but I'm very glad that I didn't. I'm happy with how it looks now, though still figuring out how to style it.

One note: I did NOT love the yarn I was working with - a Knit Picks chunky. It didn't keep its twist at all and it split easily, which made it hard when I needed to rip out stitches and it's already halo-ing. I doubt I'll knit with it again.

- D

Review: Interweave Knits Winter 2015

If you read this blog at all regularly, you'd know that I haven't been happy with the new editor's pattern selection. At all. And I've been seriously debating whether or not to renew. While I don't think she's quite there yet, the Winter 2015 issue was the best yet and I will be renewing - but just for a year, not for my usual two.

It's the first issue that contained a pattern that I immediately cast on - the caterpillar cowl - and the yarn choices were more colorful than in past issues. I do still think that she needs to work on getting some variety into the pattern selection, and that too many of the patterns look similar to others in the issue, but there is some improvement.

The patterns in this issue were divided into two groupings, Outfitted and Mulberry Cottage. The first group, Outfitted, was heavy on the wraps, cowls and the three tie front cardigans. It was, to me, the least imaginative. Two of the tie front cardigans - the Moraine Jacket and the Quivira Coat - looked like almost the same pattern. In fact, when I flipped the page I thought it was another picture of the same pattern, until I realized that the Moraine Jacket has a different collar and the Quivira Coat has cables. On their own in a different collection the patterns might have stood out more, but grouped together and in too similar ivory/oatmeal colors they just look blah.

While the wraps are all pretty I can't think of a single occasion where I'd sling half a blanket around my shoulders and think I looked fashionable. The chevrons on the Muir wrap have potential but I'd want to see them in different colors.

I liked the reversible design on the Bear Lake Cowl, but again that boring oatmeal. Seriously, someone just remove the color from new editor's yarn palette, PLEASE. Flip the page and, oh look, more ivory/oatmeal. The color does help the chevron pattern on the Ozark Wrap stand out, but again I'd want to see it in another color before casting it on. I'm not even going to talk about the Zuni Cardigan, which looks like it crawled its way out of my 1985 closet, where it should have stayed put. I like the slouchy Bozeman Hat a lot, and I really like the double-knit brim detail. Those slouchy hats look so cool but are so impossible to keep on my head, and I think the double-knit brim will solve that problem. Here's the hat;

The trapper cowl at least manages to move up a decade from the Zuni Cardigan, to my 90's grunge flannels. So I guess there's that.

The second grouping, Mulberry Cottage, contains most of the patterns that I liked best in the issue. The Ice Rink pullover does, in fact, look like a sweater I wore to the rink in the 90's, complete with the bobbles.

The best pattern, by far, of the issue for me was the Siobhan blouse. The different neckline, the slight puff on the sleeve, and the cable work on the front all really stand out. And I love the color. I would omit the tassel because I have a toddler, and it's basically begging him to come pull on it constantly, and because I'm not a fan of home decor items on clothing. But that's just me.

Second favorite would be the caterpillar cowl, which is the pattern I knit immediately. It was a fun, quick knit that I've already received compliments on and worn twice. The Cocoa Cardigan has some gorgeous lacework on the shoulders that's just beautiful, though per usual I'd probably add two inches to the length.

I feel so bad for the model in the Quadrille Pullover - it was like they decided to put her in the one sweater that would make her look squat, block-shaped and wide. The pullover actually has a lot of potential, interesting cables and yoke, but the combination of its tightness and length make it very unflattering. Loosen it up a bit, make it longer, and it could really work.

Mitts! I love mitts. With crossing latticework to frame bobbles, they're super cute if not hugely practical. The bobbles on the palms would bug me when driving, if I knit them I'd leave them off the palms. Oh look, another sweater IN IVORY/OATMEAL. YAWN. The variegated yarn used in the Modest Pullover is, however, gorgeous. I love the idea of using a pattern on the sleeve cap.

Something new I've decided to add to my magazine reviews are the average cost for yarn to make the patterns. I know I consider it helpful, and I do look at it when deciding whether or not to knit a pattern. But because that could get long, I'm going to put it in a separate post. Let me know if you think it's helpful, and if so, I'll keep it up.


Pattern breakdown

- 5 pullover sweaters

- 4 cowls

- 4 wraps

- 2 button up cardigans

- 3 tie close front cardigans

- 1 hat

- 1 mitts pattern

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cowls here, cowls there, cowls everywhere!

Okay, Interweave Knits won me back with the Winter issue (review to come), even though I think the new editor isn't quite there yet. This was the first one of her issues where I felt the need to immediately cast on one of the patterns. Shockingly, it was a cowl, the Caterpillar Cowl.

I've had the Dark Horse Fantasy yarn sitting around for years. I loved the variegated colors, I loved the feel of it, but I didn't know what to do with it. I didn't have enough yardage for a sweater, too much yardage for mitts or a hat, and the one scarf I knit with some of it turned out terribly. Despite extensive blocking the scarf rolled constantly and wouldn't lay flat. When I decided to knit the cowl I went hunting through my stash, re-discovered this yarn, and decided to rip out the scarf and re-use its yarn in the cowl. I'm glad that I did.

The cowl knit up quickly over Thanksgiving weekend and is super warm. The pattern on the lace ends was easy to memorize, and the stacked rows of purl/knit stitches in the body provide interest.

I will warn you, though, I'm used to reading lace patterns from right to right - ie, each pattern starts on the right side, you knit across, and then the next row starts at the right. I knit about two inches before I realized this was wrong and that you had to knit this chart back and forth.

Ripped out, started over reading the pattern back and forth and the work went quickly from there. Here it is, finished, around my neck this morning;

Super warm and comfy, I think I'm going to get a lot of use out of this one!

- Dena

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Venice Beach Tank - Self-Striping Yarn - Knitscene Summer 2013

What possessed me to start a summer tank at the end of August? I think I thought I'd get it done in time to still enjoy it, but boy was I wrong! Part of it was that I was working on other projects in between, but I also had to rip out and fix several things on the tank that I didn't like.

Remember how I said that I'm going to add an inch to the length of every project from Interweave that I knit from now on? Well, I think I'm also going to add a half inch to an inch to every armhole. I knit to the project's specifications, tried it on, and the armhole was waaaay too tight.

(Yes, that's a picture of my armpit, sorry).

It's a quirk of mine, but I really like a lot of movement in the armhole area. This also caused some puckering when I put it on, and was uncomfortable.

Then the neck came up too high, too. So I had to rip out down to the armhole and add an inch of depth, which also shifted the neckline down. Not a huge deal, but still a pain.

This pattern was knit from an i-cord edging which was joined in the round. Then the stitches were picked up from the bottom and knit up, with a typical increase/decrease pattern through the body. The same as the Ryann Tunic I also knit from this issue, actually. On the armholes you knit an i-cord edging and bind-off, which was my first time using that technique. I really like how it turned out and I think I'll be using it on my own projects in the future. On the neckline you pick up stitches and knit the border with the holes to braid the i-cords through, then you knit three i-cords and braid them through the openings.

So the actual knitting time wasn't a lot of work or bother, but the finishing definitely took longer. I'm pleased with how it turned out and I couldn't resist wearing it once despite the weather (with a cardigan over it for warmth!). Once I'd finished modifying it I think it turned out quite flattering.

Here's a view of the front;

Here's a view of the back;

And here's a close-up of the braided neckline, which I think looks really cool;

Though I'm still not a fan of all the yellow in the self-striping yarn, I think I can live with it. Now I just have to wait six months for spring to be able to wear it again!

- D