Monday, July 06, 2015

Solja ~ es terminado!

Hi, Knitters,
The winner of the Shoplouleigh project bag is......

flogigknits on Ravelry! Congratulations to Florence. I have contacted both Leigh and Florence to let them know. Thanks for entering and I'll host another giveaway very soon.

As you can see I finished the Solja sweater by Anna Maltz. The pattern for Solja is found in a couple of places. Click here for Solja in Pom Pom Magazine (information via Ravelry) and click here for the individual pattern on Ravelry. I have the Pom Pom magazine and there are other things in here that I might knit. It is a good magazine.

I love my new sweater. It is knit from the bottom up starting with the body. The body is set aside and then the sleeves are knit and joined to the body. Then the yoke is knit with colorwork and decreases and it is finished with corrugated rib to match the cuffs on the sleeves and bottom border of the body. I made the second size, 37.5-inch bust measurement. It is supposed to have a couple of inches of positive ease and I am happy to report that it does. The fit is perfect. 

The photos of me in the sweater were taken by my son at dusk inside my house. The lighting wasn't the best but somehow I kind of like how they turned out. They look sort of grainy and vintage-y and it suits the sweater. 

So would I recommend this pattern? Yes. However, I had to finagle a bit on my own accord here and there so it is a cautious yes if you are a beginning sweater knitter. 

Here are the things I modified on my Solja:
1. I lengthened the body by adding an extra repeat of the lace chart. I like the length of body.

2. I significantly shortened the sleeves and frankly they are still a tiny bit too long after blocking. The pattern has only one sleeve length for all of the sizes. The length is 22-inches. I usually wear a 17 to 18-inch sleeve in my sweaters. Since there is a lace pattern and increasing going on, including adding in repeats as the increased number matches the chart repeat, I had to think about this one. On the underside of the arms the increases are are done in stockinette stitch. It wasn't hard to modify but it might be challenging for a beginner. The lace repeat has to end and match up to where you left off on the body because when you join back in you carry on in the chart.

3. I didn't bind off at the underarm on the sleeves and body. I kept the stitches live and used the kitchener stitch to join them after knitting for a bit on the yoke. I like to clean everything up as I go including weaving in ends and grafting under the arms. I never bind off under the arms and on the body for bottom up sweaters, I prefer to graft instead of a traditional seam.

 4. Most importantly, I added four short rows to the back of the neck. I have learned my lesson on this one. If knit as is in the pattern you will have a high and straight across neckline across the front of your neck. I have had other sweaters with the straight across neckline and I end up not wearing them at all. It really bothers me to have a high front neck. So I added the short rows to raise the back of the neckline up, making more of a scoop in the front. 
I did the short rows on the cream only rounds in the top of the yoke. I put two short rows in between the tan flowers and brown flowers and then two more short rows in between the brown flowers and the neck border. If you want to learn about short rows at the back of the neck pull out your Elizabeth Zimmermann books like Knitting Around, Knitting Without Tears and Knitting Workshop and look up the EPS formula.  Most all modern in the round, bottom-up sweaters with a yoke are based on this system/formula that was unvented by the one and only so many years ago. Elizabeth always included short rows in her necklines and at the lower back to alleviate any fit issues. It is a simple way to solve a problem in handknit sweaters using this bottom up formula.

Please click here to see Carol Sunday's genius short row technique and explanation and video tutorial! I am using this technique called Sunday Short Rows from now on and was introduced to it by Gudrun Johnston in the Ambrosia cardigan I recently completed. 

5. Instead of having colorwork rounds that included trapping or weaving in floats using three different colors at a time, I opted to leave out the flower center color changes. I knit those stitches in the cream color and then duplicate stitched them on after the fact. I am very pleased with the results and it really didn't take very long. I had to weave in ends but I don't really mind doing that kind of finishing work. 

I used Quince & Co. Lark for the corrugated rib edgings and for the yoke colorwork. The colors I used are Twig, Honey, Egret, Bark and Dogwood. The lace body and sleeves is Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted in Grey Heather N03W. These yarns really worked out well. The colors for the yoke are spot on. The sweater is quite economical and I used up stash yarns. Yay for that!

I used US size 7 needles throughout the sweater. The double-pointed needles in the photo are from Signature Needle Arts

It's funny how small the sweater looks when still in pieces. It is actually a good sized garment. The lace pattern was really simple and easy to do. Even a beginner could master the lace here.

The debate over colors for the yoke went on for quite awhile before I settled on this winning combination. I think the pink Dogwood color really sets off the heather grey lace of the body and sleeves and the creamy golds and browns of the yoke. 

You can try on a bottom up sweater as you are working. I do it all of the time. I wrapped the ends of my needles with rubber bands so the stitches wouldn't fall off when I was trying it on. It worked fine.

The colorwork involved a lot of trapping or weaving in floats and colors along the wrong side as you go. This is due to the bigger flower motifs. The bumpy fabric smoothed out beautifully with blocking. The band of brown that separates the lace from the colorwork is actually alternating knit stitches of honey and twig. It is subtle but I really like it. 

I soaked the garment in Soakwash for about 20 minutes using lukewarm water. I squeezed out the excess water by stepping on the sweater while it was rolled up in clean towels. Then I spread out the sweater on my blocking mats. I gave a good stretch to the yoke and the lace to get the wool to relax and show off the stitches better. I'm very pleased with the blocking.

The fit is extremely relaxed which I always love. Also, I love the roomy sleeves so much. I'd say I have 2 or 3 inches of positive ease over the entire sweater after the blocking. It's so comfortable. The sleeves grew a little too much but it's totally wearable and I really don't mind. I am talking about only maybe a half inch to an inch too long. I will probably like this length in the winter months. 

I will wear this with skirts and jeans in the colder months. It is really perfect in every way. Yay! It feels so good to get some new sweaters ready for my fall and winter wardrobe. It's very exciting and sweater knitting is definitely making me happy right now.

I am almost done with the body of Louise, my next cardigan. Oh, is this one fun. I am plotting and planning my button selection right now. I checked in with my favorite Wooly Moss Roots on Etsy to see if they could make something good for me. They said yes. I'll keep you posted.

I'll be back soon with more. I hope you are all having a good July and that you are finding time to knit in between all of the summer festivities.
xo ~ susan

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Good Stuff & a Shoplouleigh Giveaway!

Hi, Knitters,
I am blocking the beautiful Solja sweater by Anna Maltz. It is taking quite awhile to dry on these warm summer days. I am happy to say it fits great and I will admit to trying it on repeatedly while it's still damp. I can't resist. I kitchener stitched the underarms together and wove in all of the ends while I was working so all that's left to do is finish duplicate stitching the flower centers on the first and second rows of flowers. I think I will use pink centers on the middle row of flowers and honey centers on the top row of flowers. That should be good.

I'll do an entire blog post about Solja when it is truly done and maybe even a podcast so many more details will come on this one. I did do quite a bit of modifying along the way and I'll let you know about that soon. Anyway, I loved knitting Solja to no end and I think I will love wearing it as well.

I have a wonderful giveaway opportunity for you today. The generous Leigh from Driffield, England, is offering one lucky winner their bag of choice from her Etsy Shop called Shoplouleigh!

I have purchased two of Leigh's bags and can highly recommend them. They have quickly become some of my favorite project bags. Leigh uses a heavy cotton canvas or linen fabric that is sturdy and high quality. I love the natural overtones and the simple prints she selects. The drawstring bag construction is top-notch with an eye for details. The bag sits up nicely and the top can be rolled down to create a nice opening while working. 

Leigh adds a wristband on the side in a pretty contrasting print and I like the simple white lining. But best of all....

There are three pockets on the inside! I miss pockets in my project bags and most of the smaller bags I have don't include pockets. Leigh uses a contrast linen fabric for the three-part pocket. I love this so much.

Leigh of Shoplouleigh on Etsy has offered the opportunity for one winner to receive a bag of choice from her shop! I see she only has a few bags up on her shop right now but I am sure she will work with you to select the bag of your choice. Check out the sold section of her shop to see some of her other bags.

To enter to win please leave a comment on this blog post. Please only leave one comment, be patient for your comment to appear and only click on Publish one time. Please include your Ravelry username or your email address so Leigh can get in touch with you if you win!

Another quick thing I am working on is switching out any worn out, fraying grosgrain ribbon or cord drawstrings on some of my all-time favorite and heavily used project bags. I am hard on my project bags, they travel with me and are thrown in cars, larger bags and crammed in all sorts of corners around the house. Some of them need a little freshening up. I am switching out the frayed ribbon and cording with twill printed measuring tape. I am turning both of the ends down about a 1/4 inch and sewing them down on my sewing machine so they won't fray.

I can't take credit for this super clever idea. A little less than a year ago I was really impressed by a beautiful little project bag that Helen of Curious Handmade had sewn. She used a natural and wide woven measuring tape as a drawstring and I never forgot what a charming touch this was to her project bag.

Click here to see Helen's project bag with a measuring tape drawstring! You can even see that I left a comment on Helen's bag at that time. I loved it then and I love it now. I don't believe Helen sells her bags, I think this was a gift for someone. 

I love the wider natural woven measuring tape more than the one I used. I wonder where she got hers? If you know of a good source please let me know!

My absolute favorite drawstrings are made of fabric like the ones Knit Spin Farm does on all of her bags and Lowland Originals does on some of her bags, for example. I know this takes extra work but it is a really nice finishing touch.

I know that Dianne of Suburban Stitcher on Etsy (and I love her podcast) actually sells bags with the measuring tape drawstrings. Check out Dianne's Etsy shop right here!

One last thing, I cast on for the Louise cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge. I am using Quince & Co. Osprey in the Belize, Kumlien's Gull and Honey colorways. I am using size 9 and 10 US needles. Those are Signature needles in the photo. I think this is going to be a very quick knit with the aran weight yarn on bigger needles. It's kind of exciting to start a new sweater. It never gets old.

Well, don't forget to leave a comment for a Shoplouleigh project bag of your choice! Good luck if you enter. I'll randomly select a winner and I will announce it in a few short days.

It is my 26th wedding anniversary this week. Time flies when you're having fun, as they say. It's also my daughter's 19th birthday this weekend and of course, it's the Fourth of July! So much to celebrate in so little time. I'm sure we'll find a way to have fun together. That never seems to be a problem.

Let the comments begin!
xo ~ susan
p.s. I put a new header on my blog that is a photo of my new shawl design that will be released right after the SSK Retreat that ends on July 18th. It is a fun knit and I can't wait to share it with you.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sale Time ~ Three New Patterns!

photo provided by Little Skein

Hi, Knitters,
Thanks for the huge response to Episode 16 of my podcast and for the double giveaway! Wow, you are generous with your comments and viewings. Thank you.

The winners of the fabulous prize packages from Episode 16 are.....
Michelle or walterbear on Ravelry wins the gift bag including the custom Quaere Madison Memories yarn and the Little Skein custom project bag (Pre-orders for your own bag are up right now! Click here to find out more.), the Dropcloth Sampler and so much more. Congratulations to Michelle!

Terri or terriglo on Ravelry wins the door prize package including the Lollipop Yarn, Tuft Woolens and Kookaburra soap and the Kreinik glitter thread. Congratulations to Terri!

Both winners have been contacted and need to pm me their mailing addresses so I can send out the prizes. Thanks again to everyone who participated. I will have another giveaway very soon.

On to the topic at hand this morning. 

I have 3 new patterns being released to my Ravelry Pattern Shop this morning! To celebrate this fact I am having a 20% off pattern sale for the three new patterns. The patterns on sale include two shawls, Pioneer Girl and Come What May, and a bookmark/ornament pattern called the Half Pint Mittens. 

20% coupon code starts today, June 24, 2015 and ends June 30, 2015. Code: NEW

If you purchase all 3 of these new to my shop patterns using the 20% off coupon code NEW, you get the bundle of professionally tech-edited, designed and test knitted pdf patterns for only $12.40. You can purchase the patterns individually using the code NEW as well. 

Enjoy! Happy summer to you all.

Here are some photos and information for the three new downloadable patterns in my shop:

Size: Pioneer Girl has a 59” wingspan and is 12” deep, after a gentle blocking.
Yarn: Designed with 2 skeins of Plucky Knitter Primo Fingering. If you will be substituting yarn, you will need 550 to 600 yards of a similar fingering weight yarn.
Skills needed: This is a deceptively simple shawl. It looks complex, but requires only beginner-level knitting knowledge. There are both written and charted directions.
To knit Pioneer Girl, you will need to be able to:
  • Cast on, knit, purl, and bind off
  • Increase stitches with a YO
  • Decrease and/or join stitches with k2tog
photo provided by Little Skein

This bookmark or ornament is the perfect companion for any Little House loving person around or really any person around! The inspiration for this adorable pair of mittens on a string mittens is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s red wool mittens referred to in the book series.
The mittens take only 3 grams of fingering weight wool from start to finish.
Grab those tiny leftover scraps from shawls and socks and whip up some adorable gift-toppers, ornaments and bookmarks for kids, friends and family.
Needles: US size 1
Gauge: 8 sts per inch in stockinette stitch
Mitten = 2-inches in length each
Cord: 10-inches in length, perfectly sized to be used as a bookmark with the classic Little House on the Prairie books

Finished measurements: 48-inch wingspan, 28-inch depth after blocking.

Yarn: KnitCircus Opulence (80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon), 400 yards/100 grams. 
Sample knit in 1 skein of the gradient Come What May colorway.

Needles: US size 6, 32-inch or longer, circular needles or size to obtain gauge

Gauge: 5.5 sts per inch in stockinette stitch before blocking

Stitch markers
2 tubes of 6/0 beads, 24 grams, sample used crystal beads with silver lining
Crochet hook or flosser for placing beads

Have a great Wednesday. Don't forget to use the coupon code NEW for the 20% off discount.

I'll be back with more soon.
xo ~ susan

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Episode 16 ~ Gratitude Abounds & Giveaway Fun!

Hi, Knitters,
I'm back with a new podcast episode and giveaway today. There is so much to share with you but be sure to look at the end of the post for photos of today's giveaway opportunities, you won't want to miss it. Instructions to enter your name in the hat to win are at the end of the post as well. 

Let's dive right in. Here are some links for what I talk about knitting-wise:

The IBK Retreat after class at the University Club

I forgot to mention that at the retreat 34 hats were collected for donation to Halos of Hope! Thanks to Pat, plynn on Ravelry, for collecting and delivering the hats for the group. There is a thread in the Itty-Bitty Knits group for a monthly charity hosted by a member. There are always lots of charity knitting opportunities going on in the group if you are interested.

Thank you to everyone for coming to Madison for our retreat!

Here are the links for the lovely sponsors and donations for the gift bags and door prizes! You are all the best and I appreciate your generosity to no end. Everyone was thrilled and you all helped to make the retreat so special and memorable.

Please click away and visit these talented designers, dyers, artists, shop owners! Please pass on my regards if you purchase anything.

Yarn on the House YOTH Yarns

Rebecca Ringquist – Dropcloth Samplers

The University Club where we had class and lunch together.

Door prize mania!

Cute name tag buttons for everyone made by Kriste.

My trunk show of toys.
The workshop was for the Mary, Millie & Morgan dolls. Many of the students ordered doll kits from Quince & Co. for class.  

Everyone settling in for class.

Kriste describing and handing out door prizes!

Madison Memories exclusive yarn from Quaere Fibre.

The group at the Farmers Market on the square.

Here is the Quaere Fibre Madison Memories 9 stripe sock I started with the coordinating heel.

Click here for the IBK Retreat Pre-order for the custom project bag on Little Skein! It looks like Anne is on vacation for a few days but I know she is taking pre-orders on the project bags so send her a message if you are interested.

Giveaway Prize #1 ~ My door prize package includes:
Sample from Tuft Woolens wool soap
Kookaburra Wool Wash
1 skein of Lollipop Yarn Rainbow Striping Sock Yarn
1 Spool of Kreinik tinsel thread

Giveaway Prize #2 includes:
Mini skeins of all sorts
Discount codes
Tuft Woolens Soap
Dyeabolical Row Counter Ring
Dropcloth Sampler from Rebecca Ringquist
Needle Gauge 
Kookaburra Wool Wash
Exclusive Project Bag from Little Skein
Quaere Fibre exclusive Madison Memories 9 stripe sock yarn skein!!!

Please leave one comment on this blog post to enter to win one of the giveaway prizes. 2 winners will be selected, one for each package. You must leave your contact information Ravelry name or email address in your comment. Please only click on Publish one time! There is a delay before you will see your comment appear on the blog. 

I will be back in a few days to select 2 random winners! This is going to be a big one so good luck to everyone. 

Thanks for joining me and love to you all!
xo ~ susan

Monday, June 15, 2015


Hi, Knitters,
I want to announce that I am hosting a giant giveaway later this week. About 10 days ago there was a retreat in Madison, my hometown, where almost 30 knitters from my Ravelry group spent a long weekend together. We had door prizes and retreat bags and yarn and gifts. Well, I have stockpiled a bunch of things, including the custom stripey sock yarn from Quaere Fibre, to share with you. I want to do a good job thanking all of the sponsors of the retreat and not rush through it so later this week that will happen. You won't want to miss this opportunity so be sure to stay tuned.

Now for today's big news. I finished a cardigan! It may not seem like big news but it has been a very long while since I knit a sweater of any sort so I am pretty excited about it. Has it been a couple of years? I can't remember. Well, the Ambrosia cardigan has been on my mind for several years. When Gudrun Johnston, the designer, released her book Knit with Me I immediately purchased the yarn to make Ambrosia, the cover cardigan. That was in 2012. Three years later in 2015 it feels good to finally get this project out of my stash and onto my shoulders.

Here is some information you might like to know:
Yarn: Quince & Co. Puffin in the Frank's Plum colorway

The pattern for Ambrosia is available for individual download and it is also in a book called, Knit with Me by Gudrun Johnston.  The book is wonderful and has many patterns I would like to knit and wear. In addition to the book there is a baby/toddler pattern for download called Wee Ambrosia which is in sizes 3 months to 3 years. I may have to knit this one at some point, too. It is super cute.

The Ambrosia cardigan is knit from the bottom up, starting with the body, then the arms are knit and attached to the body. The yoke slip stitch pattern is really fun to knit and is quite simple despite the complicated appearance. When something is easy but looks tricky that's always the best. The decreases for the shoulders are done after the stitch pattern section which keeps things simple again. The neck edge is bound off and then picked up for the hood. Since the yarn is a bulky weight and is heavy the bind off and picked up edge provides a seam of sorts for added structure for the garment. I liked the thoughtfulness that Gudrun ran throughout the design. It is designed for simplicity, function and aesthetics.

The hood is just the right size. It is not gigantic and heavy at all. There is some unique short row shaping on the sides of the hood which gives it a rounder shape and makes it not so pointy. I like that the hood doesn't cover the diamond slip stitch pattern on the back. It's all very clever and done with purpose.

After the hood is finished, the front bands and hood edging are picked up and knit in one long row from bottom edge to bottom edge. The buttonholes are placed by the knitter with general instructions, not specific placement. This is fine because you can try the garment on at before knitting the buttonholes to figure out the best placement for the toggles. There is a reference for buttonhole placement using the stitch pattern section as a rough guide, one at the top, middle and lower edge of that section. Using the patterned section as a guide made it easy.

I originally had only 8 skeins of Puffin in Frank's Plum. The size I wanted to make calls for 10 skeins. I thought I had better order a couple more skeins so I didn't run out so I went ahead and purchased two more skeins. Guess how many skeins I used..... 8. Now I have two more skeins of Puffin added to my stash. But that's alright, I'll make a hat or mittens or something from the extras along the way. 

Here are some in-progress shots for you.

Here I am trying on the fresh off the needles Ambrosia to see where I wanted to add pockets on the fronts. Pockets are not included in the pattern but I really couldn't envision my Ambrosia without pockets. I am planning to wear this as a layering jacket in the fall and winter and I know that pockets will come in handy for warming my hands, holding car keys, or for storing other odds and ends. I bet a ball of sock yarn will fit nicely in these pockets. Yes to that.

In 2012 when I bought the book and yarn for Ambrosia I immediately started searching for toggles. One of my favorite button shops on Etsy is Wooly Moss Roots. I have used these buttons on many garments in the past and they are beautifully handcrafted every time. Wooly Moss Roots uses different types of wood branches for their buttons and they are so beautiful. 

I love the rustic look of the reclaimed sassafras wood used in the three toggles on my cardigan. I love that the bark is still on the toggles. They are sanded down just enough so the surface is smooth and will not snag on the buttonhole. The ends and back are smooth as well. 

I used purple thread to stitch on the toggles and they work and look perfect.

For the added pockets I picked up stitches using the knit fabric as a guide. I wrote out the directions on an Instagram post if you are interested in looking there for my photos. I am using the hashtag #projectsweaterchest for my sweater photos which stemmed from my sweater chest videos last fall. There are over 1,200 posts in #projectsweaterchest already. Use this on Instagram if you are doing some sweater knitting of your own so we can all see what you're up to.

Here are my general notes on what I did to make the pockets:

~ I picked up stitches by inserting the tip of the needle under the right leg of 16 consecutive stitches, added in the yarn leaving an 8 inch end, and knit directly onto to the cardigan. 

~ I picked up the stitches on the fourth row up from the border and 8 sts over from the front bands on each side.

~ 16 sts wide measures about 5-inches 

~ I worked 18 rows in stockinette stitch

~ Work 6 rows of garter stitch at the top edge 

~ I used the ends to stitch down the sides of the pockets. 

~ The pockets are about a 5-inch square which is a good size for pockets in general. 

I washed the finished cardigan in Soakwash in warm water and laid it flat to dry. 

I am thrilled with the squishy, cozy results of Ambrosia! It fits great and I love it. I made the 37.5 inch size. I usually wear a 36 inch size but I wanted it to be a little oversized. The sleeves are long-ish so I can turn up the cuff or if my hands and wrists need extra warmth I can wear them down. There is plenty of positive ease, at least a couple of inches which is perfect for a layering piece. I wouldn't want it to be fitted or snug.

Ambrosia is the epitome of comfy and cozy knitwear. I highly recommend Gudrun's lovely, well-written pattern. This is a fun and practical one to add to your wardrobe. Definitely check it out.

After Ambrosia flew off my needles I cast on another sweater called Solja by Anna Maltz

I'll fill you in on all of the Solja details very soon! 

Don't forget the giant giveaway coming later in the week. I hope your summer if off to a wonderful and sunny start.
xo ~ susan