Sunday, October 28, 2007

Perfect Paula -- the original and the copy

In a few comments, some of you wondered what the original vintage sweater on which I based Perfect Paula's cardigan looked like. The original, which was bought probably 30 years ago or more, is this tan one:

Below is the copy. You can see that I changed some of the cable patterns, making one snake cable into a honeycomb, and the leaves into diamond and bobbles. The original is more cropped and is blocked out a lot more so that it has a boxier shape, but in fact the measurements are pretty much the same, aside from longer armholes at the request of Paula:

Now that it's getting colder, it's fun to take lovely sweaters out of storage and look forward to wearing them!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mr. Pottah!

Imagine that title being spoken in a sinister (yet sexy) British accent.

Iteration 2 of my Gryffindor vest is on the needles and has taken priority over other knitting in the weeks before Halloween. Knitting worsted weight wool with circular needles is so fast, man! I worked for a few hours on this , and I'm already a few inches from the armholes.

After this vest is done, I must force myself to return to the fair isle yoke sweater. All of that fingering-weight stockinette... but I want to wear it! I have to keep reminding myself of that fact!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Just in time for Halloween, here's a pattern for you (I've been sitting on it for quite a while, but the publication I sent it to didn't pick it up):

Dante Alighieri is famous for writing the Divine Comedy, the story of his trip to Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, but he’s just as well known for his iconic headgear: every picture of Dante ever painted depicts him in a droopy medieval “sack hat” worn over a white skullcap with earflaps whose cords he lets dangle in a devil-may-care (pun intended!) attitude. Sometimes Dante is also shown with a poet’s laurel wreath atop this hat.

Since I couldn’t find a Dante hat for sale on a recent trip to Florence, I decided to make one of my own, complete with intarsia laurel wreath and dangling earflaps. Real medieval sack hats were just tubes of fabric drawn together at the end, but I gave mine a little shaping at the top so that it would lie the right way and not fall down over the eyes. Since the stranding and the addition of earflaps already added some bulk, I opted for attached i-cord ridges to imitate a folded-up brim without the doubled fabric weight. The result is, I think, not just a delightful costume element but also an attractive hat for everyday wear.

S [M, L] (shown in size S; sizes are extremely customizable). Size S fits teenage children and small-headed women; size M fits large-headed women and small-headed men; size L fits large-headed men.

Circumference: 18 [20, 22] inches
Length: 11.25 inches

Karabella Aurora 8 [100% merino wool; 98 yd/90 m per 50g skein];
[MC] #7223: Burgundy; 2 [2, 2] skeins
[A] #7767: Sage; 1 [1,1] skein
[B] #1364; Oatmeal; 1 [1,1]

1 set US #8/5 mm double-point needles
1 set US #8/5 mm straight needles (optional)
16 inch-length US #8/5 mm circular needle
24 inch-length US #8/5 mm circular needle

Stitch markers
Tapestry needle

16 sts/26 rows = 4" in stockinette stitch

Attached i-cord: tutorial can be found here.
Provisional cast-on: tutorial can be found here.
Three-needle bind-off: tutorial can be found here.
Sl1-k2tog-psso: slip one stitch, knit the next two stitches together, and pass slipped stitch over this stitch.

In MC, CO 17 st using provisional cast-on.
Row 1: k8, join yarn A and k1 with A, k8.

Laurel wreath pattern, first half:
In stockinette stitch, work the setup rows for the laurel wreath, following the chart. For size S, work 3.5 repeats of chart (there should be four leaves on each side of the wreath). For sizes M and L, work four full repeats of the chart (there should be four leaves on one side of the wreath and five on the other side). Finish laurel wreath with the appropriate branch tip, depending on which side of the wreath your final leaf is on.

Continue in stockinette stitch in MC for 5-10 more rows. This is where you can customize the size of your hat: work a few rows past laurel wreath pattern, then hold band up to your head or the head of the person for whom the hat is intended, stretching it somewhat for a close fit. When band seems to reach halfway around your head, count the number of rows past the laurel pattern, knit this same number of rows, and move on to the second half of the laurel wreath:

Laurel wreath pattern, second half:
Turn laurel wreath chart upside down. Join yarn A again and knit exactly the same wreath as the first half (including your appropriate branch tip), only going from leaf tips to stems, to create a mirror image of the first half.

Leave live stitches on your needle and pick CO stitches from provisional CO with another needle. With a third needle, BO beginning and end stitches with 3-needle bind-off, making sure the middle “stem” stitch of laurel wreath is lined up on each side.

With MC and 24-inch circular needle, pick up 3 stitches in every 4 rows along one (long) side of your band. Work applied i-cord along these stitches. Repeat with the other side of the band. Use dangling yarn ends to weave together the ends of the i-cord at the seam of the band.

Hat body
With MC and 16-inch circular needle, starting at the seam, pick up the same number of stitches along one side of band. Place a marker (pm) at the first stitch.
Round 1: k half of the stitches, pm, work to end of round.
Round 2: k to 22st before middle marker, k2tog, pm, k to 7 st before middle marker, k2tog, pm, k to middle marker, remove marker, k5, pm, ssk, k14, pm, ssk, work to end of round.
Round 3: k, slipping markers.
Round 4: k to 2 st before first marker, k2tog, sl marker, k to 2 st before second marker, kttog, sl marker, k to third marker, sl marker, ssk, k to fourth marker, ssk, work to end of round.
Repeat previous two rounds three more times.
Round 11: k to end of round, removing all markers but the one at the seam.
Knit 12 more rounds.
Before starting round 23, count your stitches. The final shaping requires a multiple of seven stitches. If you don’t have a multiple of seven, use the next round to decrease by the remainder, spacing your decreases evenly around the round (for example, if I had 73 stitches, I would decrease by three stitches now).
Round 24: divide your stitches into seven equal increments. *Knit one increment, pm, repeat from * to end of round.
Round 25 and subsequent odd rows: *k to 2 st before marker, k2tog, sl marker, repeat from *.
Round 26 and subsequent even rows: k, slipping markers.
When there are only 2 stitches left between each marker, break yarn, leaving a 6-inch tail, and use a tapestry needle to draw yarn through remaining stitches. Pull needle through to WS, pull tight to draw up stitches, and knot yarn.

Put hat on your head and use your finger or a pin to mark a spot about an inch behind your right ear. Using yarn C, start at this point at the seam where you picked up stitches for your bottom edge i-cord, and pick up 19 stitches, working toward the front of the hat.
Row 1 (WS): k1, p1, k1, pm, p13, pm, k1, p1, k1.
Row 2: k1, p1, k1, slip marker, k13, slip marker, k1, p1, k1.
Work three more rows as established, with seed stitch at edges and stockinette between markers.
Row 6: work seed st to marker, slip marker, k2tog, work stockinette to marker, k2tog, slip marker, work seed st to end.
Row 7: work seed stitch to marker, slip marker, work stockinette to marker, work seed st to end.
Repeat these two rows until five stitches remain.
Next row (RS): k1, s1-k2tog-psso, k1.
Next row: begin making i-cord with these three stitches. Make i-cord for about 7 inches, or until long enough to tie under chin.

Repeat this process on the other side of the hat for the left ear.

Weave in ends. The hat must be carefully wet-blocked to make sure that the brim does not curl up and the i-cord is all lying evenly.

The Recipient looking very much like the D-Man himself!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A visit with Andrew E. H. B.

The esteemed Mr. Andrew E. H. B. paid me a visit today, and of course I had to get him to model some clothes. First, the baby sheep sweater, which is not for Andrew (he already has one) but looks awful cute on him:

Then his Halloween costume, which is a dinosaur hood from Moth Heaven:

It was hard to get him to hold still and not look at the camera while I got a profile shot (he already knows how to model, the little diva...):

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan Pattern

3/29/08 note: this pattern is also available as a free PDF from Ravelry. Click here to download it if you'd rather have it in that format!

4/8/10: cliquez ici pour la version française de ce patron (PDF), traduit par Louise Robert pour Biscotte & Cie.

Here is the pattern for my sheep-yoke baby cardigan, which was inspired by a sweater "recipe" in Gibson-Roberts and Robson's Knitting in the Old Way. My version has a much simplified yoke pattern and is sized for a baby.

Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan

General pattern note: as with my other patterns, I have given directions for two sizes using different size needles. Doing so means that the stitch counts and fair isle patterns can stay the same across sweater sizes. Make sure you choose the size needle that will give you the proper gauge! Since babies grow so fast, however, it's really not particularly important to make a sweater in an exact size.

Size: 6-9 months or 9-12 months
Yarn: DK weight superwash wool (I used Knitpicks Swish DK) in tan (220-250 yards); blue, green and cream (60-90 yards); black (less than 20 yards); for girl's version, pink (less than 60 yards).
Needles: size 5 (smaller size), size 6 (larger size) straigh or circular needles.
Gauge: 6 stitches and 9 rows = 1 inch (smaller needles); 5.5 stitches and 8 rows = 1 inch (larger needles)
Shown in size 9-12 months.

With tan yarn (MC), CO 70 stitches. Work 7 rows of k2, p2 rib. Work 1 row of purl. Break yarn and join blue.

Begin working Sheep Yoke Chart. The row marked "setup row" is the purl row you have just worked. Chart guidelines:

  • Be sure to repeat each bracketed section four times as you work across the rows, and be sure also to space increases across each section without lining them up vertically -- lining increases up along the red "fault lines" of the pattern will result in ugly and obvious increase "seams." You can pretty much put the increases wherever you want in each section -- some knitters have complained that they have to do math to get the increases evenly spaced, but you don't have to -- if you just make sure that you work the right number of increases anywhere you feel like it in each section, they'll end up spaced pretty evenly across the yoke. Seriously!
  • The black wedges on the chart indicate "no stitches." Just jump across these areas to the next stitch in the row.
  • Only work the pink flowers if you are making the girl's version. For the boy's version, just work these two rows in blue.
  • For the flower pattern ONLY, do not repeat each bracketed section exactly as pictured. Rather, keep the eight-stitch repeat of the flowers continuous across these two rows. You will also need to work in the required increases as you do so, so be careful!
  • For the rest of the chart, you can work the repeats exactly as pictured.
  • If you are making the boy's version, use blue yarn for the checkerboard pattern. If you are making the girl's version, use pink yarn. I have shown both on the chart for a visual aid.
After you have completed row 34 of the chart (206 st), divide for the sleeves as follows:
K29, place 44 st. on a holder or piece of scrap yarn, k60, place 44 st. on a holder or piece of scrap yarn, k29.

Work straight in stockinette with MC until piece measures 10.5" [12.5"]. Then, work 2 rows with blue (boy's version) or pink (girl's version). Work one more row with MC, then work 7 rows k2, p2 rib and BO.

With black yarn, duplicate-stitch heads and legs to sheep as charted in the Duplicate Stitch Chart (sheep should be facing toward the button band on each side). Use blue yarn to make french-knot eyes for the forward-facing sheep in the center back.

Return stitches from one arm to needles and join MC. Work 9 rows stockinette. In the next row, decrease by one stitch at each edge. Repeat these ten rows two more times (38 st). Work 7 more rows, then join pink or blue and work two rows with this color, then work 1 more row with MC. Work 7 rows k2, p2 rib and BO. Repeat with other arm.

With MC, pick up 3 stitches for every 4 rows along the right front edge. Work 8 rows k2, p2 rib and BO. Check out your button band and decide how many buttons you would like and where you would like to put them. Pick up the same number of stitches along the left front edge. Work 3 rows k2, p2 rib, then work a row of buttonholes as follows: work 4 stitches in rib, *YO, k2tog, work in rib to place you'd like the next buttonhole, rep. from * until 6 stitches from end, k2tog, YO, work 4 stitches in rib. Work 4 more rows of k2, p2 rib and BO.

Seam arms, weave in ends, and block. Sew buttons to button band to match buttonholes.

Notes and suggestions for modifying:
  • I stranded my sheep, but you may find it easier to use intarsia.
  • If you are averse to knitting it flat, you can certainly feel free to knit in the round and steek. If you’re using superwash wool, the best way to reinforce would be with a sewing machine.
  • If you are a little nervous about the garter stitch sheep, there is no reason why you could not knit them in stockinette. This will only affect the texture detail. If you want to try other ways of adding texture, you could try bouclĂ© yarn or something fuzzy like angora. If you wanted lots of texture, you could add some bobbles! I’ve also fantasized about making one – or all – of the sheep black (doesn’t every flock need a black sheep?

It's finished!! I am totally pleased with everything about this sweater -- the yarn is nice and soft (and the right colors now), the pattern was modified to be as easy as possible, and there are no seams at all!

Stay tuned for the pattern.