Introducing Chum’s Pullover

Let’s start the new year off right with a new pattern release! This one has been a really long time coming so I’m over-the-moon thrilled to finally get it out there. Without further ado, let me introduce you to Chum’s Pullover…

Full Frontal

Chum’s Pullover is a stylish yet casual men’s sweater featuring a triangular-shaped placket and chunky buttons. The placket adds a touch of interest and style to the piece that is manly enough for even the toughest of men. It is knit in bulky yarn, making relatively short work of a man-sized garment. The piece would look great with a pair of jeans, battered and old or crisp and sleek. It would also pair well with a pop of colour like red denim, if that’s the way you roll.

Placket Detail

The sweater is worked in the round from the bottom to the underarm, then the left front, right front (including placket) and back are worked individually and joined at the shoulders with Kitchener stitch. The set-in sleeves are worked flat from the cuff up and then seamed and attached to the body of the sweater. The neck flap and high neckline are finished with a crocheted edge to give the piece a nice, clean look.

Open Collar

The sample shown in the picture is worn with zero ease, and that is how the pattern is written. For a little extra room, I recommend knitting the next size up.

From now until midnight MST on January 11th the pattern is available for 25% off.

Under the bridge

PS – Look how hot Chum looks! I’m a lucky lady!

Longest Project Ever Giveaway

I just finished a project I started 8 (yes, EIGHT) years ago. I’m not sure exactly when I started it, but I know where I was living when I was blocking it originally, and I haven’t lived there in a very long time. I also know I got the yarn from a store that doesn’t exist anymore.wholething

The project is the Perfect Turtleneck, from Patons Design Series. It’s a chunky cabled sweater with lots of ribbing and a giant turtleneck. The cables are quite pretty, and I recall it being a very straight-forward pattern. I’ve been looking for mistakes, but apparently my knitting was better back then than I thought it was.closeup

The reason it had hibernated for so long is that when I tried seaming all the pieces together the yarn would untwist and pull apart. I got so frustrated with it that I put it away and forgot about it. I mentioned this to someone in passing recently and they suggested using a different yarn in a matching colour.

After finishing all my Christmas knitting and not knowing what to start next, I resurrected this beast and got down to business. It took 3 evenings of work, but it’s finally done. Unfortunately, I have aged 8 years and gestated 2 children since I began this sweater and it just doesn’t work for me anymore.full shot

So, if you’d like to receive this sweater for free, leave a comment telling me about your Longest Project Ever (knitting or otherwise) and I’ll do a draw on January 11th (my birthday!). The sweater is a size small (fits a 34″ bust).

What a Mis-Steek!

Okay, this happened a few weeks ago but I’ve been unable to talk about it until now. The sweater in question has been sitting in a basket in a corner since I threw it there and stormed off. I think I have cooled down enough and my head is fully level again so it is time to revisit the disaster that was my first foray into steeking.

Steeking is a technique used when knitting stranded colour-work in the round. Since it can be difficult to purl while knitting with two colours, many knitters prefer to work in the round when doing stranded colour work. But, working in the round means you are making a tube when sometimes you’d rather have a flat piece. In the case of my sweater, I wanted to make a cardigan so I needed it to be flat. In order to turn this tube into a flat piece you do something very scary… you cut your knitting right down the middle! Oh the horrors!

Before you cut your work you reinforce the column of stitches on either side of where you are about to cut. This is where the people are a little divided, and where I guess I didn’t do enough research. In theory, if you use a true Shetland wool (which is traditional for this style of knitting) then the catchy wool can grab onto itself and not unravel when cut, even if you don’t reinforce it. Other kinds of grabby wool will be fine with a crocheted reinforcement, the crochet chain running down either side of the steek “hugs” the yarn and holds everything in place after it is cut. Other wools that are more slippery, like merinos and superwash, really need to be reinforced by a couple of lines of sewing machine stitching running down either side of the steek.

I went wrong was in thinking that my project would be okay with a crochet reinforcement. It was not okay. I also should have taken the time to test it out on my swatch before taking the scissors to my sweater, but I did not. This disaster was avoidable, which makes it all that much more horrific. I’m going to chalk these mistakes up to lessons learned and move on.

Since this was for a pattern I was designing, and I had planned on adding a little picture tutorial on steeking (yes, I appreciate the ridiculousness of that), I have thorough photo documentation of the disaster as it unfolded. Warning: the following pictures portray unwanted unraveling, viewer discretion is advised.

First you crochet a chain through the column of stitches to one side of the steek.
Then do the same to the column on the other side of the steek.
Then you cut down the steek column between the two reinforced columns. Remember, you spent countless hours knitting the piece up to this point.
And then, if you’re yarn is too slippery, it will pull out of its crochet “hug” and unravel when you try to pick up stitches for the button band.

So the moral of the story is, always machine reinforce your steeks or you could end up with unwanted unraveling. I think I have a solution to the problem so stay tuned for updates on the steeking saga.

The Knit That Keeps on Giving

About 2.5 years ago I knit a very cute sweater for A. The pattern was Owlet by Kate Davies, and I chose a deep red colour of King Cole Merino Aran. I had a lot of fun knitting it and it worked up very quickly. The owls’ eyes are supposed to be buttons but at that time I hadn’t found Suzy Q’s (my favorite vintage button shop) so I used wood beads instead. A wore that sweater until last fall (my kids grow very slowly) and got quite a lot of use out of it. Now that it is getting downright cold again here, I dug it out to try on P. Sure enough, it fits her perfectly and the red colour is fine for a girl too. Since both kids will have worn the sweater it has now probably secured it’s place as a family heirloom and the classic design will probably still work for the grandkids someday.

A Little History and Clarity

Since I started this blog I have had a lot of friends and family ask me what it is all about. The general consensus is that they really enjoy reading it, they love the projects, but don’t really understand what I am doing. So this post is going to answer some of those questions and give a little bit of back story

I was taught to knit a few times when I was younger, mostly by my grandmother, if my terrible memory serves me correctly. It never really stuck though as I would knit for a bit, make a mistake, not know how to fix it and get frustrated. This girl has a lot of give-up in her, so when I’m not really good at something right away, I usually don’t push on. Unfortunately I see that trait in A, I’ll have to figure out how to get him to try a little harder than his mom does.

The first time I started knitting and actually stuck with it was in my final year of university in Fredericton. I was living with my friend Tamara in a freezing cold house, and we were broke. The funds had pretty much dried up over our extended stay at school, though somehow we always managed to scrape together enough money to keep our White Russian supplies replenished. That Christmas we decided to make presents for our families, a cross-stitch for her mom, and a scarf for mine. When I made a mistake Tamara would show me how to fix it, or I would call my mom and she would talk me through it. I eventually finished the scarf, though I’m not sure I’ve ever seen her wear it.

There were a few more hits and misses over the next few years of knitting: a beautiful cabled sweater that is still in pieces in my basement; a hat for a boyfriend that caused me to burst out laughing when he put it on; a false-start on a uterus when I couldn’t quite get the hang of doing i-cords. But eventually I discovered the joys of, Ravelry and the gauge swatch and things improved from then on.

Fast-forward about 10 years. I wanted to knit a little hoodie for P, nothing fancy, just a plain hoodie that she could wear over her shirts on cool Calgary mornings. I searched through available patterns on Ravelry (an online knitting world, aka my happy place) but couldn’t find anything that fit what I was looking for. It occurred to me that I could probably figure out how to make one without a pattern, and I had just found a hole in the market that I could probably fill. Fast forward another 6 months or so and you have the Everyday Hoodie pattern I just released.

So what does that mean anyway? I took my idea, did a lot of math and trial and error, and wrote the pattern and instructions for other knitters to make the sweater. I uploaded it onto Ravelry where knitters can find it and buy it if they are interested. I get paid through PayPal and Ravelry distributes the pattern to the buyer. If someone finds the pattern on my blog, they can click the “buy now” button, which will take them to Ravelry where they can buy it even if they are not a Ravelry user.

A lot of people are also asking if I am selling my knitting. While I am flattered, and very willing to do it, the fact is that there is a huge amount of time involved in hand-knitting things. While a pair of booties takes anywhere from 8 to 12 hours, an adult sweater can take up to a month of working in all my spare time. The going-rate for production knitting is 15 to 20 cents per meter of yarn used, plus the cost of yarn, which can work out to as little as $25 for the Boot Cuffs, but $125 for P’s hoodie. A person who understands what goes into the process and values the quality of a hand-made item will generally be willing to pay that price, but others may be offended.

So, to make a long story long, that’s the gist of what I am doing. The blog is here for entertainment, community and advertising purposes, with the added benefit that I seem to be reconnecting with people I haven’t talked to in years, and meeting new people every day. I hope you all continue reading as it truly makes me happy.