So done Saturday!

I was in Madrid yesterday, which means I did not get the chance to post about my latest FO, which is a sweater. It’s an Alice Starmore design called “St. Enda”

I haven’t blocked it yet (meaning I haven’t washed it and laid it out flat to dry), so it isn’t “just so,” and I was in a hurry to take the darn photo so I didn’t fuss with getting the sleeves to sit exactly right on my arms, but here’s a general idea of how it looks on me (I love it!).

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I guess I kind of like the fact that the sleeves are turned out a bit so you can appreciate both the underside and “top” end of them. The background texture is just as beautiful as the cables, don’t you think?

This is the second time I’ve done a saddle shoulder, and I learned from my first experience. This time, I made the sleeves a bit longer so it the sweater doesn’t ride up on my shoulders and doesn’t give my sleeves that “high water” effect. I can raise my arms up in the air and still have enough sleeve to cover my arms without the whole jumper riding up. I imagine I can also wear a coat over it without having it ride up, either.

Of course, I didn’t follow the instructions for finishing (haha!). I didn’t bind off the stitches for the back or the front and I used garter stitch selvage on the ends of my rows. I did bind off the sleeve caps. Instead of sewing the saddles on I just knit them on using the live stitches at the shoulders. I crocheted the sleeve caps to the body (it looks totally invisible) and I mattress stitched the side seams for the body. One of these days I should make a tutorial for crocheting parts of sweaters together when you have bound off edges. It’s so much easier than “fake grafting” and looks a lot more invisible.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to have a look at all your crafting stuff. I’ve been behind on the blogging and the blog reading.

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Wearing Sweaters #5

I didn’t finish anything this week, so yet again I’m walking around on this blog wearing a handmade sweater.

This week the news in Spain has been talking about the polar freeze that has decided to camp out in our vicinity. It brings freezing temperatures and some chilly winds. In the north of the country it has even snowed! Here on the central meseta we just have lots of freezing cold air with clear skies. I appreciate the clear skies. Usually we have too much fog this time of year, so much that it becomes an icy mist. Anyway, it has been cold enough to wear wool sweaters indoors and outdoors. I decided to give my thick, heavy Alec XL a rest and try out another thick sweater I finished last summer and haven’t had the chance to wear, my green “Telegraph,” a most excellent crochet pattern.

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People have been asking me where I bought my sweater, so it looks like a store-bought item to some. I don’t know how I feel about this. Most knitters and crocheters feel flattered that people mistake their work for things that you can find at a retail store because it means it looks like a professionally made garment. I suppose this is, in fact, very true. If someone wants to know where they can buy my sweater, they’ve looked at it and thought it was a professionally produced item and not necessarily mass-produced. The downside of this is that when something looks handmade or homemade it doesn’t look professional to a lot of individuals. I don’t like this way of defining things. Professionally made and homemade / handmade need not be mutually exclusive.

The only conclusion we can draw from all of this is that there are a lot of handmade sweaters out there that people think are not suitable for wearing in public. That doesn’t make me feel very positive. I am 100% convinced that something can look like it was made with a pair of hands and some needles or hooks and still be beautiful as well as good enough to wear in public. This is why I don’t feel bad if someone asks me who made the sweater I’m wearing and other knitters and crocheters sometimes do. That’s my opportunity to say proudly, “I made it! I love it!”

Anyway, as I’ve been enjoying this very comfortable and shockingly stylish crochet sweater, I’ve been thinking about making another one in a different color. I already have one over-sized version in dark green, this normal-fitting one in a lighter shade of green, and now I think I “need” one in light gray. Yeah, that’s right, “need,” because I need another sweater like I need a hole in my head! Let’s not talk about all that yarn I have stashed away to make other sweaters I’m planning. We shall see! Maybe I’ll cave if I find a good sale on sport weight yearn.

Wearing Sweaters #4

I’ve got no FOs to share, so it’s time to continue the sweater parade.

This week started off really cold so I got to wear my Alec XL for the first time. I finished this in 2017. Like all my Alec XL sweaters I’ve made and will make in the future, the yarn of choice is Rowan Pure Wool Worsted. It’s a super wash yarn and holds up beautifully in the washing machine. Also, it’s worsted, which means if it isn’t cold enough outside you’ll get overheated in it quickly.

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When I finished this sweater I was slightly heavier than I am now and it doesn’t really matter, which is a shock for a raglan design. Usually, if the sweater is too big, you wind up with a glob of bunched-up fabric in the underarm. If it’s too small, you can’t get it past your shoulders. Over-sized, this sweater fits me like a modified drop crossed with a raglan. You can still see the raglan lines that trace the underarm, it’s just less dramatic. As a matter of fact, with a raglan fit, usually your eyes would be drawn to my underarm, but with more ease, like in the photo, it’s less glaringly attention-calling. It’s very comfortable.

On some of these very frigid winter evenings I’ve been able to fit a tee and long-sleeved button-down shirt under it and then just wear a light denim jacket over it, with or without a scarf. Sans scarf, I can roll up the collar and it protects my neck from the cold very well. Even though the color is a shade of brown (the color way is called “Oak”) it has a bit too many orange undertones for it to go with brighter blue colors, although with darker blue shades as well as less electric, light blues it works wonderfully.

This week there was no WIP Wednesday for me and, as is becoming a bad habit, no off-topic Monday, either. I am happy to say, though, that after working my rear off from Monday to Thursday I can have a nice three-day weekend to catch up with my on-going projects. I did find some time earlier this week to shop on line for cross stitch supplies, knit here and there on my St. Enda sweater, and cross stitch my Chinese dragon (he has a third claw!). It wasn’t blogging activity, but it sure was helpful to get me some energy to push through the rest of the week.

FO Friday: “Denim wash” Alec XL

This sweater is finished.

It’s all washed and ready for its wearer to enjoy it. The only thing is: it isn’t cold enough to wear it. Also, I’m glad I had an FO for Friday because the alternative would be to talk about the sweaters I’m wearing. I’m not wearing sweaters so I would not have a Friday post without this Alec XL.

This is the second year in a row I have finished a sweater in January. It’s pleasant to start the new year with a finished sweater.

Wednesday WIP: Another Alec XL

I’m actually here to talk about a WIP for a change, as my morning lessons are canceled. I’m a pretty fast knitter so I thought I could get one of partner’s sweaters started and finished in time for January 6, the day in Spain when people often exchange Christmas gifts and the Three Magi come to leave presents for children.

My partner picked out the color for this one, which is called “Blue Wash” by Rowan Pure Wool Superwash. It’s a quick knit, but I just need to get the second sleeve, the collar, and the buttons done.

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I’m definitely getting my $7 or so worth of sweaters out of this pattern. It’s so much fun to knit. I’ve already made two and plan to make more in the future. It’s also fun to wear. It’s very comfortable when it’s a little bit over-sized. Of course, it’s also very warm in winter.

The issue with sweater wearing this year is that it’s an unusually warm winter. The temperatures aren’t as extremely cold as usual.

St. Enda has been placed on the back burner until I get this semi-Christmas gift done for my partner. I made a lot of progress on it before I cast on this Alec XL. In fact, I’m 3/4 of way done with the back so all that will be left to do – soon enough – will be the sleeves, seaming, and the collar.

Wearing Sweaters #3 (and I can’t count to eight)

It’s FO Friday and I don’t have any FOs to showcase, so we shall have a look at what sweaters I’ve been wearing.

I’d also like to take a moment to let you know that I have recently discovered that I can’t count to eight. Browsing through my blog today and reflecting on the sweaters I’ve knit and crocheted this year, I realized that my post “Sweater #10” was totally wrong. In that post I said I had finished 10 sweaters this year. Totally wrong! In reality, this year I have finished eight. I counted ten because, first of all, I thought I finished my gray cabled sweater this year when in fact I actually finished it in December 2016. Also, I thought I finished two snowflake sweaters this year, one for me and another for my partner. That is so wrong! The other snowflake sweater was completed in 2016 in August. Whoops!

Anyway, I think was inspired to reflect on this because this week I’ve been wearing my HUGE snowflake sweater, or, if you like, the star motif sweater. This is a 1970s Leisure Arts knitting pattern and I love it. I loved it so much, in fact, that I made two, as mentioned above. Last year, when I knit it, I was a bit larger, so of course I made my sweater larger. This year, I’m smaller, so this sweater now fits me with a whopping 7 inches of ease! I don’t mind, though, because it’s so comfortable to wear. It’s an easy and quick knit, too, especially if you don’t follow the directions and knit the whole thing in the round instead of fussing with knitting the lower body and the sleeves flat.

snowflakesweater

I’ve been wearing this so much that I’ve wrinkled it just a little! I don’t care, it’s comfy and it keeps me very warm. I used Cascade 220 yarn for this and planned my snowflakes, or “stars” to be a faded color so that they appear and disappear, depending on what angle you see them at and the amount of lighting that shines on them. In the above photo they are very subtle. You can tell how huge this is on me by looking at my underarms. There’s lots of room to move around in this sweater! I could probably fit another person under it, or perhaps even shoplift if I were the shoplifting type.

I hope you’re wearing handmade sweaters this winter. I have no idea why, but it’s just fun to wear them.

Wearing sweaters 2

Still no FO! I’ll probably finish my Thanksgiving decorations tonight or tomorrow morning. So, I’ll talk about the sweater of the week, which is my “Unisex Zip.” Try not to notice that I need a haircut and a shave, OK?

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This pattern comes from the digital edition of The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters” and is used as an example to show you how to design your own knitwear using the numbers from the “blank” pattern for a basic modified drop shoulder sweater. You can find information about it here.

I love wearing this sweater for many reasons.

First of all, it’s a wardrobe basic. There are no cables, no fancy color designs. The pattern calls for a multi-colored yarn, which means it goes well with lots of other clothes. The stitch pattern breaks up the stripes of color very nicely so you don’t get big, dominant pools of color. If you wear a long-sleeved tee under it, as photographed here, and put on a pair of jeans, it acquires a casual look. However, you can also wear a button-down shirt with a collar and some khakis to look more dressed up.

Another benefit is the stitch pattern. It’s a ribbing, but with slipped stitches. I don’t know if anyone reading this has actually tried to wear a truly ribbed sweater. I find them uncomfortable because they cling so much. This ribbing clings, but not to the point of strangulation, which makes it very comfortable. The modified drop shape adds enough contour to the chest without outlining it too much.

Also, this is a light wool sweater. The yarn weight is sport, so it’s warm, but not too warm for Fall weather. The pattern calls for a camouflage color way from Briar Rose. Unfortunately, this yarn is now discontinued, so I had to look for a substitute.

Which brings me to the last reason why this is a favorite: THE YARN. Briar Rose discontinued their sport weight line, so I needed a different merino wool. I got really lucky here. I live on continental Europe, where merino wool is just everywhere. As a matter of fact, if I travel 15 minutes outside the city I can easily find a flock of merino sheep roaming about in a field. I bought my spun-and-dyed-in-Spain merino wool from Tejo lo que Hilo. The name of the company translates to English as “I knit what I spin.” They have beautiful hand-dyed wool, which you can see knit up in the photo. This little company also sells equipment for spinning along with yarn you can dye at home. The quality of this merino wool far outdoes that of a more “trendy” and pricey brand, such as Madelintosh, which will pill even before the knitting is completed. I finished knitting this sweater in May 2016 and it still hasn’t produced any annoying fuzzies. Last year I wore the living heck out of it and this year I plan to do the same. So yes, good-quality, reasonably priced merino is sometimes better than the big name brands that cost more money. Sturdy merino wool exists, and some of it is grown, spun, and dyed right here in Spain. This sweater, for me, is a wardrobe staple and a special souvenir from my favorite country to live in, representing a way of life and a language I love.

Wearing a hand-knit sweater, when it’s properly made to fit well, is such a luxury, especially when it’s made of soft merino wool. It’s also cool to know that my hours of knitting won’t turn into a sweater with ugly balls of fuzz sticking out any time soon. It will eventually happen, but the material I chose has slowed down the process very nicely.