The Accidental Year of Large Projects

Somehow I’ve started 2019 off with some good progress working my way through sweater quantities in my stash. Honestly, that’s not what I necessarily set out to do, but after the good start with my Weekender sweater I started labeling my handspun and realized I needed to free up some room on my shelves  for this new handspun yarn.

What’s the quickest way to make space on shelves? Knit a lot of yarn. More specifically, knit a lot of heavier weight yarn! And there’s not quicker way to free up space on the shelves that to knit heavier weight sweaters. Enter my Milliken knit!

It was probably a year ago at about this time that I saw the pattern and thought about how nice it would be to have a cozy knitted vest for hiking. There are so many days in the shoulder seasons when just keeping my core warm is enough and in spring especially, it is so freeing after a winter trapped in a parka. I have a knit sweater made from Quince & Co Ibis, their newly discontinued Bulky weight wool/mohair blend, and it’s super warm. I don’t mean to tempt fate as we’ve seen some pretty COLD temps this year, but that sweater is almost too warm for more than the chilliest days. Yes, a vest made out of Ibis would do nicely, I thought. Somewhere during the year I acquired the yarn and then once my Weekender was done, I cast on.img_5702

This is the only in-progress photo that I have I think. That’s probably because it barely took me two weeks to complete it. The pattern is simple and fun and the yarn is as scrummy as I remember it (I’m more than a little bummed it’s disco’ed!). I followed the directions for the body, going a bit generous in the main body for a slightly longer vest, but not a ton. I knew this yarn would block out on the generous side so I didn’t want to overdo it, but I also needed to go beyond the “hits at wearer’s waist” element because that length definitely cuts my body type in an unflattering way. That’s not even considering the cold drafts I’d encounter with a shorter length — I definitely did not want any drafts interrupting my coziness! Minor length adjustment made, I’m very pleased with the results!

img_6333I would definitely recommend this knit for anyone in need of a bulky vest. It’s a quick, easy knit and I think the finished garment has really lovely designs elements. From that garter + slip stitch patterning on the front…

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To the garter side detail and little split hem.

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And the cozy cowl neck.

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There was some disagreement in my house as to whether or not I should add the cowl on to the neck. It’s an add-on after the rest of the vest is completed, so it’s one of those elements you can add or leave off very easily. Mr. Knitting Sarah was solidly anti-cowl neck, but in the end I opted to put it on and see what it looked like knowing it would be easy to rip back out if I didn’t like it.

I picked up my stitches and got to knitting on the cowl. As I knit on it, I realized I really did not want the shaping in the pattern and wondered, what would this look like if I just left the shaping out? I was a little nervous it would be unwieldy or ginormous, but again, what’s the harm in trying? This led to questions about how long to knit on it, if I was not shaping it. Oh, so many questions. I knit on. I ended up using up most of one skein of yarn and a stretchy bind-off. The stretchy bind-off was another roll of the dice because I didn’t want the collar to be crazy, but I didn’t want to be choked by my cowl neck. It worked great! Hooray for improvising as you go and always buying an extra skein of yarn for garments!

I’ve got another sweater on the drying rack already, but I’ve taken a few days off of sweater knitting while I finish up a pair of socks for my hubby and darn a few pairs, too. It seems all his socks are failing at the same time, so I need to get him sorted out before my next large project gets underway. I’m very excited to get going on it though — I’ve got three sweaters picked out already — French Braid Cardigan, Seaboard Sweater, and Cassis — and I’m happy to report they will all be knit from stash yarn! I’m hoping to make headway on them before the weather gets too warm, but I also want to get into my linen sweater quantities this summer so I’ll play it all out by ear depending on how far I get.

Suffice to say though, I’m focused and really enjoying these big projects! It’s really kind of thrilling to take these yarns I’ve been sort of hoarding for the *perfect* moment and just knitting the heck out of them and creating the garments of my dreams. The accidental year of large projects? I’m all in!

 

 

Fairbanks, Finished

On the first of the year, I started a sweater. It seemed fitting that I was knitting a bulky sweater since I was leaping into 2018 in a wood-heated one-room cabin during the coldest week of the year with temps rarely getting above 0ºF. At the very least, my Fairbanks in Quince & Co Ibis was nice and cozy to knit on!

As bulky sweaters have a habit of doing, this one flew off my needles. I probably would have finished it in under a week, but instead I set it aside right around this spot…

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It was for a good reason though, as I set it aside to finish off my Find Your Fade shawl which had been languishing unfinished for much too long. But you know how things go  — you set a project aside for a specific reason and then you get distracted and it takes you a while to circle back to it. I finished the Find Your Fade, 2 pairs of socks, some mittens, and then finally — after a friend shared a photo of a sweater she was knitting — I was reminded that I really need to pick up my Fairbanks again.

Inspired, I did just. In just a couple house I’d finished off the body and by the next evening I was knitting on the sleeves.

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I almost always knit sleeves 2-at-a-time magic loop. It’s not a method for the faint of heart as it is awkward getting going and then just kind of gets less manageable as you go. Never one to do things the easy way, I actually really like it. If you can get over the graceless set-up, it’s a super easy way to achieve matching sleeves. Personally, I would rather deal with a clumsy set-up and an inelegant method than take notes while I knit, so 2-at-a-time sleeves and I get along very well indeed.

Day 2 or 3 back at it, I finished the sleeves and added the simple neckline and I was finished. Ironically, I finished my beautiful bulky sweater on the first official day of spring. The sweater has since been sitting on the chair in my bedroom…

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This chair right here. Oh, and look at that lovely Jensen Tina 2 next to the chair where the sweater sat for a couple weeks. It’s currently out of commission for a bit while the flyer and one of the bobbins are going back “home” to visit Jerry Jensen. I’m getting a new flyer made as well as some spare bobbins and who better to get these things from than the original source! Isn’t the wheel lovely, though, and doesn’t it match weirdly well with the other furniture? Seriously. I just can’t get over the perfection here.

But what was I talking about again? Oh yes, a sweater.

Realizing that photos of me modeling this sweater were not going to happen anytime soon, I opted this morning to get some photos on the dress form. And ta-da!

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Here it is! Are you looking at my stash? Focus people! The sweater! It’s the roomiest, coziest sweater. It looks very blah on the model, but I just love the fit — it’s the perfect curl up and watch the snow fall kind of sweater.

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The hem curves down in the back thanks to some simple short rows, a detail I love as it provides full coverage of my backside when I’m on the trail in running tights. Plus, it just ups the cozy factor for around the house!

I really adore the simplicity of this design with its basic raglan sleeves…

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And elegant, straightforward garter neckline.

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Fairbanks is a very easy to follow pattern with just that little short row section to keep you on your toes and provide that lovely hem design element to really set it apart from your basic raglan. I knitted mine with about 5″ of positive ease and would definitely recommend the 4-5″ range of positive ease for a loose, comfy fit. This sweater is meant to be roomy and especially considering this sweater is bulky weight and mighty warm, I think the generous fit is important. As I mentioned early, I used the recommend yarn — Quince & Co’s Ibis — that is 50% Texas super kid mohair & 50% superfine merino. It’s soft and a joy to work with. I’m guessing there will be some pilling with wear, but nothing my Gleener can’t handle!

All in all, I found Fairbanks to be a quick & fun sweater to knit. It’s just such a classic design that I have zero doubt that I’ll wear it for years to come. And while we’re quickly marching toward weather that is too warm for this snug sweater, I know it’ll get loads of wear. It’s the perfect answer to cold weather — an expert at chasing away all the chill on even the coldest days winter have to offer.