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.

 

 

Labor of Love

It all started here.

Rambouillet Wool Roving - Hand Painted Spinning or Felting Fiber, Birds in the Holly
                                                  Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm.

A braid of ramboulliet fiber landed on my doorstep in late December, my January installment of the Top of the Month Club from Three Waters Farm. I had no idea exactly what to do with it, but I ordered an extra braid and then two of the coordinating braids as well. I just had a feeling about it. A couple months passed and somewhere in there I gifted the coordinating braids — a deliciously deep tonal green — to a friend who just got a wheel because I knew she’d love them. I stared at my 8oz of “Birds in the Holly” and wondered what I should do with it.

It was in late March or early April when I was corresponding with a friend who had woven an incredible scarf with the colorway, that I admitted that I kind of didn’t know where to start. I loved the colors, but I had no clear vision for it. She essentially said, “You just have to go for it.”

img_2776So I did. I prepped it into about a zillion little 1-3gram nests…

img_2787And I just started spinning.

img_2927It was gorgeous, really, every step of the way and the ramboulliet spun like a dream.

img_2968Within a couple of weeks I’d finished my singles, all 8oz of them.

And then they sat for about a month until I finally got to plying them.

img_3265And you know, like the steps of the process before, I just knew this was special.

img_3297The plying took more than a week (which is a long time for me).

And when I finally wound it into a skein, I realized why…

outside skeinIt was over 1100yards!

With so much yardage — I don’t think I’d ever done something quite on this scale with my spinning, I knew it just had to be a sweater. BUT, I was just a smidge shy on the yardage I wanted, so I asked around in the Three Waters Farm Ravelry group to see if anyone in the club would be interested in destashing a braid to me.

img_3723And someone very graciously did!

img_3993I spun up the third 4oz braid during the Tour de Fleece.

And then finally in October, I added it to my 1+1+1 list and found a window to cast-on and it happened.

img_4813My first ever handspun sweater was really & truly happening!

img_4827Maybe it was the thrill of seeing my handspun knit up so beautifully, or just the excitement of making this project happen, but I took this fingering weight sweater and I knit it in just over a month.

img_4885And every stitch, it was just pure love.

img_4919I knit the sleeves 2aat — still using the 1100yard original skein, unsure if it would hold out, but just going for it.

img_5128And you know what? It held out. Despite the fact that I extended the body to hit at my hip and made long sleeves instead of 3/4 length. When I made it to the cuffs, it was the first time I felt truly confident that I finish this project with enough yarn (even though I bought an extra 2braids of Birds in the Holly along the way just in case).

img_5161I used the extra skein for the neckband which I made the full & generous 3.5″ called for in the pattern.

Are you ready to see the final result?

Maybe?

neckband

I suppose I can also add that I made the neckband in garter instead of stockinette stitch so it would lay flat instead of curl.

detail-sleeveAnd for all my bound-off edges I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. I’m mildly concerned it’ll stretch too much, but I’d honestly have it too stretchy than not stretchy enough. I love the way the edges turned out.

fullWho am I kidding? I love the way the entire sweater turned out.

backI honestly cannot believe that this started as fiber in my hands. It seems a little impossible.

back-onAnd yet here it is…

front-onWith a proper fit and everything.

It was a labor of love from the first spin of my wheel to the last bound off stitch. And honestly, friends, I have no more words for this one.

The 1+1+1 Project: Q3 Wrap-Up & Q4 Plans

If you’ll remember, my Q2 goals for the 1+1+1 project were pretty much a bust. I did get a lot done, but I left my goals on the table. I was pretty committed to make Q3 happen though and I’m happy to share today that I did it!

Goal 1: Fun in the Tour de Fleece.

img_3992Done. And I made some fabulous yarn, too.

Goal 2: Knit up my 3 pairs of socks for the Feel Good Yarn Co Summer Sock Club.

img_3808One…

img_4104Two…

img_4415Three! What a blast, too!

And Goal 3: Finish the 2 projects from Q2 I totally whiffed on.

Hamlin Peak…

hamlin-peak-detDone.

And Swoop…

swoop-detDone.

I’m going to save most of the photos for next week when I can write a bit more in depth about each project — I hope you don’t mind!

So I did it! I managed all 3 of my third quarter goals! Whew-hoo!

There really is no rest for this crafter, so it’s time to square away what’s what for the fourth quarter, right? I’m trying to take into account that it’s a busy time of year — we got lots of birthdays and holidays happening, so here goes…

Goal 1: Knit a Featherweight Cardi in my Birds in the Holly handspun yarn.

featherweightYou’ll remember I spun the 8oz in late spring and then an additional 4oz during the Tour de Fleece. It is time this yarn becomes a sweater!

Goal 2: Spin some fun yarns for my daughter’s birthday with these fun mini-batts.

delia-battsMy girl is still bonkers for her Wee Weaver and we’re going to surprise her with a Placemat Weaver for her birthday so I’ve got to get her set with her favorite color yarns, right?!

batts-openI can’t wait to spin and then see her weave with these lovely textures!

Goal 3: Try Kool-Aid dyeing.kool-aidThe only dyeing I’ve ever undertaken did not turn out great, so when I got these Kraemer Natural Skeins in the mail I knew it was time to give it another go. I’ve got three different blends and a basic plan for each. A little research and I will be on my way!

I think my goals are mostly reasonable for this time of year. I suppose we shall see! What are your goals for the last 3 months of this year?

Riverbend + Quarry

Egged on by stunning photography and super stylish pattern collections, it’s hard to resist the temptation that is Brooklyn Tweed. Seeing all the pretty photos of Quarry that started popping up when the yarn launched last year I made the fateful click that took me to the BT website. When I realized I could knit a sweater with this new-to-me yarn for a relatively good price, I splurged and decided to knit the very relaxed Riverbend with Quarry in Slate.

It arrived and the color was gorgeous. I knew the basics of this yarn — the chunky relative of Loft & Shelter — and I’ve knit for many years with a lot of different types of yarns and I never thought to go in and read reviews of it before I started knitting. I dutifully knit & washed my swatch & checked my gauge.

And I started knitting, ecstatic that the tweedy colors were everything I hoped they would be.

img_2336And at this point, I went and looked for reviews.

The thing about Quarry is that its made to act & look like a single, but it is a barely spun 3ply meant to be reminiscent of ‘unspun’ yarns. In action, this means that if you tug on it it comes apart very easily. I, of course, learned this the hard way. Once it’s knit it seems pretty sturdy, but if you pull on your working yarn it will most likely break unless you are very careful. I read a number of reviews where knitters were very unhappy and frustrated with this attribute. I can imagine that any knitter that grips the yarn firmly or has a habit of pulling on their working yarn or knitting with a lot of tension on their yarn might really struggle with Quarry. To their credit, Brooklyn Tweed has provided a PDF with “tips for happy knitting with Quarry” and it did indeed help me to better understand the material with which I was working. It did, however, leave me pondering how I feel about yarn that needs special instructions for use. I’m certainly on the esoteric side of the yarn consumer scale, but even I am left questioning the larger implications of needing to explain a yarn.

But I digress.

img_2348I knit along, more easily now that I was equipped with more knowledge of the yarn and made my way through Riverbend which is a very well-done pattern. The fabric, a beautiful slate-y blue with gorgeous pops of tweedy goodness, I knew would be a wonderful addition to my wardrobe. It’s a color I love to wear. As it’s a bulky weight sweater, of course, the knitting really didn’t take long at all.

I washed and blocked and seamed (with a different yarn, as directed) and added the button bands. Then I found the backer buttons I needed to complete the project.

img_2552-1And I selected the ‘right side’ buttons which I ended up picking from Balwen Woodworks. I’ll admit I was a little pokey getting the buttons on for no better reason that I’m not a huge fan of sewing on buttons. It’s weird, I know, but that’s me.

Looking at the pretty finished fabric though…

stitch detailI finally got to it and got it done.

with buttonsI really love the finished look (please excuse the white spots — again — it’s snow!). You’ll notice, perhaps, that the buttonholes & buttons are opposite where they should be on a ladies’ sweater. Somehow, somewhere in the button band process I managed to confuse the RS/WS which landed the buttonholes on the wrong side. This has never happened to me before, so I’m not quite sure how I did it, but there it is. It really doesn’t matter, it still looks lovely. I just kind of look like a kindergartner trying to button this sweater and every time I do button it I have a renewed respect for lefties everywhere.

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Pardon my lack of head in this picture — it was cold and windy and snowy and I was too cold to retake them when I saw the weird faces I was making. I’d have left them in the photo, but I wanted you to be able to see the sweater and not just my ‘I’m freezing‘ and ‘What are you doing?‘ faces. In any case, I made the 39″ which gives me about 2.5-3″ of ease and it is really a very comfortable fit and a nice, cozy sweater. It’s great just casually thrown on over a t-shirt for around the house or for running errands. I think it looks nicest slouching off my shoulders a bit.

All in all, this project turned out wonderfully. I’ve already been wearing my Riverbend quite a bit and as I said it is very comfy & cozy. I’ve warmed to the entity that is Quarry, too, but I certainly think about the fragility of the yarn every time I put the sweater on. Considering its quirks when being knit, it’s hard to not wonder how it will hold up to the test of time. Since I always buy an extra skein when I’m planning on a sweater, I do have some leftovers. The yarn is pretty enough that I’ll definitely knit up a hat or something with it to use it up and it most likely won’t sit in my stash for long. And that’s the key for Quarry – I think it’s a good fit for accessories and light-wear items. Along with a lovely sweater, my takeaway from this project is that one should select a good pattern, approach it with a gentle hand and patience and Quarry will be good to you.

Agnes: The Ultimate in Big, Cozy, Warm Sweaters

img_1834The Agnes Sweater in Quince & Co. Puffin was one of my 1+1+1 Project goals for this quarter and just before departing for our Yellowstone trip last month, I decided to cast on for this sweater. Not a lightweight, compact sweater that would travel easily, but a bulky weight sweater. Yes, knowing full well I’d be driving halfway across the country in a compact car with 4 people, one large dog, and a whole lot of cold weather gear, I thought, “Yeah, a bulky sweater for the trip. Perfect.”

I won’t lie, the size aspect was less than desirable. It made me a little more smooshed than I had to be and complicated getting in and out of the car, but the knitting itself could not have been better.

img_1881I started a couple days before we left so that I was past the raglan increases by the time we hit the road.

img_1884The stockinette body was perfect for the road and before the end of the day I was already at the ribbing on the bottom hem.

I spun for the better part of my free time during the vacation, but the sleeves were pretty quick…

img_2104And they were finished a day before we would get home. It was at this point that I paused. All I had left were the pockets, but I had sizing concerns. Unfortunately, this pattern did not include guidance on the ease. You know, when patterns will say something like, “sample shown in size 36″ with 4″ positive ease” or whatever the case may be — this pattern did not include that info, so there was a bit of guesswork on my part. I wanted a relaxed fit so the questions was exactly how much positive ease to give myself.

To further complicate things, I’ve lost 3″ off my circumference in the past few months, forcing me to kind of reacquaint myself with how to size sweaters for myself properly. When I started the sweater, my bust measurement was around 38″ and I worried that the 40.5″ size would be a little more snug than the big cozy sweater I wanted, so I opted to err on the side of caution with the 44″ and allow myself to knit with a slightly tighter gauge. I’ve dropped a little over 20lbs overall, but that’s slowed considerably as I’ve neared my goal and started to shift focus more on fitness and less on weight loss. I thought the  +/- 6″ ease would be right about where I wanted it.

And then I lost another inch. Whoops! Talk about great problems to have! In any case, I got home and tried it on and looked at it in the full-length mirror and asked Mr. Knitting Sarah for his thoughts and I decided to just add the pockets and call it a wrap.

This was just going to be a nice big, roomy, cozy sweater.

on2And that’s exactly what I have. As you can see I overshot a bit with the sleeves, too. This is something I often do just because there’s nothing I dislike more than sleeves that are just a tiny bit short. I like my wrists covered when I’m making winter sweaters. Plus, this way I have the option of having them partially cover my hands when I’m chilly or fold them back I’m warmer. I wore this sweater last week on a field day with the kiddos which involved a short hike and a tour of the State Historical Museum. It was warmish outside, so I just layered this sweater with my light raincoat to keep the wind out and I was perfectly comfortable.

agnes close upThe pockets — which I knit in Quince & Co. Osprey in the Bird’s Egg colorway — are a really cute detail, but I’ll admit that they are on the small side when it comes to actual utilitarian quality. I wouldn’t change them because you don’t really want pockets that can be weighed down on the front of your nice cozy sweater anyway, but I also am under no illusion that they’ll be super handy in day to day use.

I found the pattern was written very well. Easy to understand and simple in design, especially when you consider the bulky weight  I think it would lend itself well to newbie sweater knitters or those who are just looking for a quick, easy sweater. It was my first time working with Quince & Co.’s Puffin and I will admit that I really enjoyed it. It’s exquisitely soft and quite strong for a single. I will definitely be using it again. In fact, thanks to the fact that I always buy extra when I purchase sweater quantities, I think I have just enough to make Pam Allen’s State Street Cowl with my leftovers. My next Puffin project is already set!

This sweater not only traveled many miles with me — literally — it’s been quite the journey just in how it came to be. I’m happy to say, however, that with all the twists, turns, and doubts that went into this sweater, now that it’s 100% complete and officially in my wardrobe, it’s a certainly a new favorite, a staple. The ultimate in big, cozy, warm sweaters — Agnes, I’m so happy to have you!

Little Wave

So the story goes that in September of 2013 at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival I splurged on a sweater quantity of Green Mountain Spinnery Weekend Wool.

green mountain There was nothing I was not in love with here. The color, the wool, the spin — everything was perfect.

Then a year slipped away. You know how that happens. The nice thing is that even yarn that gets stashed for a time, I rarely lose enthusiasm for it. I don’t mess about with yarn for which I’m not totally head over heels in love. Anyways, as August rolled around, I thought, “Hey, I should knit that sweater before the next Sheep & Wool Festival.” At the beginning of August 2014, I cast-on, but of course with a different pattern, Gudrun Johnson’s Little Wave.

The knitting was great, the yarn was fantastic, and I was right on time to have it finished by the festival. It was kind of like my version of a Rhinebeck sweater, as I attempted to finish it before that first weekend in September. As I knit away, it became pretty apparent that I would not finish, not because of timing, but because I was going to run out of yarn.

full sweater pre blockAnd so I did. my beautiful sweater done, save the pockets for which I had no yarn. I decided to go to the festival & either pick up the same color or a contrast, depending on the closeness of the dye lots. There was no way, after all, that I would be able to pick up the same dye lot a year later.

IMG_6309When I got to the Green Mountain Spinnery booth, there were two skeins of Weekend Wool in my Blue Jay colorway. I got them home and compared tags. Sure enough; they were the same dye lot as the skeins I bought last year. So miracles do happen! I feel like I should contact religious authority to share this parable with them for teaching purposes. I mean, this just doesn’t happen!

In any case, miracle experienced, I got back to knitting and finished this sweater the last week of September. And then I wore it a lot and kept forgetting to take pictures. Or, more frequently, I would be wearing it in the most beautiful landscape while out hiking and remember I needed pictures, but would not take them. Let me share something less than flattering about me as to why that would be the case. When we go hiking, I’m not usually really dressed for photographs. Generally speaking my husband is raring to go early, so I don’t shower or put on make-up (not that I really wear it frequently anyway) and I’m generally lucky if I get my teeth brushed, let alone a comb through my hair. Once, we visited my friend who works at The Marsh after one of our hikes and she literally pulled a feather out of my hair from my feather pillow. Yeah, it’s not great. I promise, I do have good hygiene practices, it’s just usually after hiking that that all happens.

So finally a week or so ago, we were outside and despite some serious hat hair, my hubby snapped a couple photos of me in my finished Little Wave.

IMG_6781 The buttons are rosewood and I got them from my favorite shop for simple wooden buttons, Anthony’s Woodshop on Etsy. I can’t say enough great things about the work he does — the buttons are always superb — and these match the feel of this sweater perfectly.

One of my favorite parts of this sweater is that garter detail at the side.

littlewave sideviewI just love how it looks and how it adds to the overall super comfy fit.

littlewavepocketAnd, of course, I love the pockets. The undulations match perfectly with the sweater — a detail for which I tip my hat to the designer. I get lots of compliments on that, especially from other knitters.

little wave backAnd really, how do you not love this? So beautiful and in the blue — I don’t know about you, but I think it’s breathtaking.

And here I am again.  You can see this sweater is just a smidge on the big side in the shoulders and it is overall a roomier fit than I usually make. You can see it in the shoulders when I wear just a light tee underneath, but I did want the extra room so I could wear it in winter — to throw over other layers when I run out to get the mail or take the dog out. Or just to stay super snug when it was cold outside. In truth, I love it just the way it is.

IMG_6789It is the perfect trail sweater. The perfect bird watching sweater. The perfect house sweater.

IMG_6847And the perfect jumping in leaves sweater. As you can see, I’m not kidding that I wear this sweater all the time and it’s tardiness being shared here is a direct indication of just how much I love it and wear it.

I thought the pattern was very well written — clear and easy to follow as well as very manageable for any intermediate knitter and up. Actually, an ambitious, committed advanced beginner could hand this one, too. The yarn-pattern combination is fantastic, too — they suit each other very nicely.  In fact, I was so impressed with the Weekend Wool that I picked up another sweater quantity from Green Mountain Spinnery at this year’s WI Sheep & Wool Festival. This time, I picked up Mewesic in the Norwegian Wood colorway and having learned my lesson I bought more than I thought I’d need. I got lucky with my miracle this year, so I don’t want to push my luck. I have some ideas as to what I want to knit with it, but let’s be honest, there’s a fair chance I might not get to it until August. And there’s a good chance I’ll change my mind. One thing’s for certain though, with this yarn it’s going to be one darn nice sweater.

For more information on my Little Wave sweater, please see my Ravelry project page here.