Hamlin Peak + Kestrel

One of my 1+1+1 Project goals for the second quarter was to finish my Hamlin Peak sweater. I’d bought the pattern & yarn — Quince & Co’s Kestrel — for the project a while back and I was really excited to have a nice linen sweater for summer. And then life happened and it didn’t quite get done in Q2. BUT I resolved to get it finished up in Q3 because — well — better late than never, right?! Also, I’m not great at letting things hibernate on the needles for long. I’m much more of a frog-or-finish within 6months type of girl.

As these things go, the longer it sat the more this project felt insurmountable. I was only a couple rows from separating the sleeves from the main body, but the thought of all that stockinette as the fronts perpetually increased was so daunting. Alas, I said I was going to do it and therefore, I was going to have to buckle down and get it done. After I got through the Tour de Fleece and I finished up my Pebble Beach Shawl, and finished up the last of my Summer Sock Club socks, I really had no more good reason to procrastinate, so I pulled the sweater out of hibernation and got to work.

It so happened that I had a couple good evenings including one power outage in which I was able to push through that main body of stockinette. I bound off — oh so relieved — and then I cast-on for the sleeves, working them 2-at-a-time on 2 circular needles.

img_4384They move slower this way, of course, but mentally it’s a little easier for me to work them together. Piece of mind that they will match is definitely a huge benefit to this method, too. I’ll admit that opting for full-length sleeves instead of the pattern’s three-quarter option was a little painful. Looking at the photos on the pattern and knowing I could be done, but was choosing to inflict a few more inches of sleeve knitting on myself , well, it felt like minor self-inflicted torture. But I got there.

Before I get to the FO photos, I thought I’d take just a minute to talk about working with Kestrel. It’s important to remember that working with linen is inherently different than working with wool. Kestrel is a linen spun into a ribbon structure, which mean the yarn is flat and really does not have a lot of elasticity. I’ve had people ask me how to deal with the flat, ribbon shaped yarn especially if it twists as you knit it. I always say, “Just knit it. Don’t overthink it.” If the yarn twists here and there, you don’t need to go in and ‘fix’ that. I promise it’ll even out nicely in the washing. img_2232You want to watch your gauge for sweaters and items that require a good fit as all linens has less stretch and are less forgiving than wool in that department. My gauge started just a smidge loose, which¬†was actually not a bad thing. I always need a little extra room in the shoulders and upper arms where I’m a little larger than most. Once I got to the main body, I wrapped the working yarn an extra time around my little finger going forward and that alone kept my stitches right on gauge from there on out.

I used a needle one size larger for all my bind-offs and I still bound off loosely to ensure I wouldn’t strangle the edges.

hamlin-peakYou can see the very tip naturally pulls up just a bit because the bottom edge is a bit looser than the neckline, but because of how the sweater is actually worn…

img_4642It actually looks just fine on.

You can see how much drape this yarn has — it really is phenomenal. Once all my ends were secured and woven in, I washed this sweater in the washing machine on a cold/delicate cycle and then I dried it in the dryer on low. It is absolutely 100% true that washing & drying in this manner softens this yarn. In fact, it transforms the fabric from one that is pretty stiff and almost scratchy to one that is undeniably soft. Perhaps my favorite part of knitting with linen is getting to witness this change because it is such a rewarding, happy shift. But now I’m just gushing –back to the sweater.

I really love how simple the neckline is.

hamlin-peak-detOh, and for the record, I did do the reinforcing stitches for the back the neck as recommended in the pattern.

img_4627It really does help it all lay nicely when you’re wearing it. I actually thought about adding the same type of stitching along the bottom edge, but after steam blocking it I decided against it. A good hearty steam convinced the edges to lie nice and flat along that bottom edge

img_4673Finishing a linen sweater just in time for autumn in Wisconsin is admittedly a little anticlimactic, but I certainly can use it for layering on the warmer days we have left this year. And I suppose — as with anything — it’s all about perspective. Am I 2 or 3 months late for this year, or 6 months early for next spring? Let’s go with the latter, shall we? Yes, let’s! What a fabulous sweater and with so much time to spare!

Veleta

Way back in March, I received some lovely yarn in the mail and an equally pretty pattern.

img_2464Louet’s pattern collections always contain such pretty ideas and their 2016 Spring Collection is no exception. Designed by the fantastic Susanna IC, Veleta is a simple sleeveless top knit in Louet’s wonderful Euroflax Sport.

Both the front & back of this pattern are worked identically and it’s really an excellent ‘autopilot’ knit.

img_2590I did a very large portion of this knitting while supervising my kiddos during our little waterpark adventure in March.

img_2778The non-waterpark portions of this knit were mostly just little breaks here and there throughout my day.

Before I get to the FO, I want to talk just a bit about my experience knitting with linen. One question I heard a number of times from other knitters during the course of knitting this project was concerning their stitches being too uneven when working in linen. It’s totally understandable because wool has that natural spring and energy. Stitches kind of just even themselves out a fair bit while we knit with wool. Linen is different. Linen really doesn’t have that spring and your stitches will sometimes kind of look wonky and you may be compelled to try to even things out ‘manually.’ I’m here to say that barring major, major discrepancies you really don’t need to do so.

Note my somewhat uneven stitches while knitting.

img_2590

And my nice even stitches after it’s been through the wash.

stitch detailI did nothing beyond run it through the delicate cycle in my washing machine & lay it flat to dry and my stitches looks nice and neat now.

Another question I got was how to handle the actual knitting with linen. Without the bounce and elasticity of wool, it can be easy to tax your hands when knitting with linen. I’m here to say, just relax. Relax your wrists & your hands and embrace the character of this wonderul yarn. It’ll be a joy when you do!

OK, I digress. On to the FO!

img_2971I really enjoyed the simple lace edge as much (or more) than the stockinette sections. Alas, I have a lot of pictures that look like this — my beautiful top folded and draping beautifully. I’ve had it finished for a couple weeks now, but couldn’t bring myself to model it in the chilly weather we’ve been having. Finally, yesterday I had my chance. I cornered my son and got those proper FO photos.

outtakeJust kidding! In case it isn’t obvious, this is an outtake. I discovered on this ‘photo shoot’ that if I make a lot of funny faces and do a bunch of weird poses that it makes my son laugh. Thank goodness for digital photography.

side view on 2Oh hey! Now I don’t look like I’m in pain. Isn’t the top cute?

front onI love it, I really do!

flatIt’s just such a simple, pretty piece to throw on over a camisole.

edge detailAnd again, I just love this detail.

I’ve machine washed it twice now and it’s nice and soft and drapey and it will only continue to become more soft and drapey with each wash.  I do so love Euroflax Sport — it’s great to work with & seriously washes up so nicely. And now I’ve got this fabulous top in a super comfy yarn to layer with this summer. Veleta is truly a little piece of summery perfection!

Lida + Sparrow

According to my Ravelry project page, I finished my Lida Shawl by Bristol Ivy on June 21st. I am a little behind on posting about it. And yes, you can call me Captain Obvious for that observation.

I will say it is not for lack of enthusiasm for this project. I bought the yarn — 3 skeins of Quince & Co Sparrow in the Juniper colorway — from Cream City Yarn back in March during our staycation with the idea that I would make the newly released Sans Kerchief. When time came to cast-on, however, as often is the case I changed my mind. While I love the simplicity of the Sans Kerchief, I was mildly concerned that since I’d be working on socks that are quite often cruise-control knitting that I would stall out on the stockinette of this pattern. The Lida Shawl promised a repetitive lace pattern, simple enough to not be all-consuming, but involved enough to stay interesting. I went for it and cast-on for the Lida Shawl.

lida1And it was simply a joy to knit. For lace, it is a very accessible, easy to follow, and fun pattern to knit with an excellent rhythm — I highly recommend it!

lida2A gorgeous slate-y green, this shawl is a wonderful addition to my wardrobe. The yarn is soft and its drape is the perfect compliment to the lace.

lida Quince & Co’s Sparrow is my all-time favorite linen to knit with — not at all splitty and very, very soft even before the first washing. I don’t know what they do differently with their linen yarn, but they need to keep doing it!

Why did it take me so long to show you my beautiful Lida Shawl? I don’t know. But I do know that this shawl is just perfect for late summer. Just warm enough to chase the chill of the a/c, but cool enough to be worn in the heat of summer. The best combination of pretty lace & summer yarn, this project is a more than welcome addition to my summer wardrobe. If you’re looking for a little special late summer treat, look no further. Lida + Sparrow are it!