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Back in 2011, when I first started venturing into sweater knitting, I fell in love with a cover-girl sweater. It was the Briar Rose tunic, featured on the cover of  Interweave Knits Winter 2011:

Oh, you lovely thing, you.

I was enchanted by the delicate criss-crossing cables framing the simple v-neck. I was also hugely intimidated. Cables were still unfamiliar territory. And I loved this pattern so much that was afraid to try it and fail. To try it and ruin it.

Three years later, I’m finally ready. I look at this pattern and I don’t see something lovely and unattainable. I see something super cute and not that difficult. That cabled section will be finicky, but most of this sweater is easy peasey: acres of reverse stockinette with a few bands of ribbing detail. No sweat.

I’ve even mustered the courage to modify the pattern to suit my body shape. Hip-length sweaters are not my friends. So I’ve shortened the distance between cast-on and waist shaping to something more suitable. And I’ve decided to go up a size to allow for the use of a worsted weight yarn instead of an Aran weight yarn.

These changes may sound simple-Simon to all you veteran sweater knitters out there, but it’s a very big deal for me. I can’t help feeling a little proud.  This represents enormous growth for me as a knitter. It seems fitting that it should all come together for me with this pattern.

This morning, as I lay supine in the dental chair, I chatted with my hygienist about knitting. The ability to understand a dental patient mid-cleaning is some sort of hygienist superpower. I don’t know how she understood me, but she did.

While waiting for my appointment, I had been working on a pair of color work Squirrelly Mittens.

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit,” she said. “My mom and my grandmother always used to knit big blankets.”

I went into immediate knit-vocate mode.

“I bet you could learn to knit,” I declared. “Look at all those fine motor skills you have as a hygienist. Those would probably transfer to knitting.”

My hygienist looked thoughtful and we talked about fiber arts a bit more, before the conversation was arrested by a Today Show story on the overhead TV. (George Clooney had gotten married over the weekend. An NBC reporter lay in wait along a Venetian canal for the happy couple to float by on their way to an appointment at the registry office. I couldn’t help commenting that this sort of reporting was probably not the reason he had gone to journalism school.)

What do you think, readers? How transferable are other types of fine motor skills to knitting?

At the Minnesota Knitters Guild meeting last week I saw a knitter sitting in the front row wearing the Hitofude Cardigan. During our first break, I stopped by to congratulate her on her lovely KO. “You know what?” I told her, ” I have your cardigan on my needles right now.”

Later that night, one of the knitters shared a glorious Hitofude variation she had knit for the MN State Fair. This prompted other knitters from the audience to “testify” about their own Hitofudes.

From talking to other knitters, I get the feeling that everyone who’s knitting Hitofude is having experiences like this. No sooner do you cast on than you meet someone else who has knitted it. And three more people who have just started. It’s a yarn-based perpetual motion machine.

Here’s my finished cardigan.

I knitted it out of 2.25 hanks of Sun Valley MCN in the Frosted Pine colorway.

 

 

I really love this cardigan. It’s very flattering and wearable. I’ve heard people with a variety of body shapes say this too.

My experience knitting this cardigan was so positive, and I am so inspired by the glorious Hitofude variation I mentioned above. I may have to knit it again using a different lace pattern.

The yarn-based perpetual motion machine grinds on.

Once again, it’s time to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day, which takes place every year on September 19.  

What better way to do it than with a tribute to that most piratical of knitwear patterns: arrrrgyle.

As I mentioned in me last argyle post:

Origins of argyle

What’s a celebration of piratical knits without a mention of that most piractical-sounding of patterns, argyle. Argyle is a pattern made of diamonds, often including an overlay of intercrossing diagonal lines. It derives from the tartans of Clan Campbell in Scotland. When knitted, argyle is usually done in intarrrrrsia.  *Ahem.* Intarsia.

Bonnie, classy arrrgyle

This sort of arrrgyle will  never go out of fashion. That’s not an opinion, you understand. That’s a personal guarantee. Anyone I catch retirin’ this arrrgyle …well, they’s just askin’ fer a fight.

Argyle Socks by Margie Dougherty, as seen on Ravelry

That said…

<yawn>

There’s got to be more excitin’ choices to be had. Somethin’ with a little more vim and verve to it.

Arrrgyle with some kick 

Now here’s some arrrgyle a  pirate can appreciate. Bold and daring colors, with a hint of my favorite hue: gold.

Endpaper Mitts by Eunny Jang, as seen on Ravelry

How about some sassy arrrgyle for the lassie waitin’ fer you at home?

Clingy and cute, with a sweet neckline. This pirate approves.

Phoebe’s Vest by Daniela Nii, as seen on Ravelry

Arrrgyle for restin’ yer arse

A pirate works hard all day, every day. The sailin’. The pillagin’. The boozin’. The duelin’. At the end of a long day, a pirate needs a soft place to rest his tired old arse. Me eyes appreciate the homelike charm. Me backside appreciates the plush stuffin’.

Argyle Pillow by Anne Berk, as seen on Ravelry

Socks to inspire fear

There’s nothin’ worse than cold, wet feet when you’re preparin’ to storm a dockyard or board a ship. A pirate needs a proper pair of thick, woolen socks.

Bonnie, sweet arrrgyle, like that green pair I showed you, are all very well in the middle of the sea where no one but your men can see you. But during a battle, a pirate needs to look a little more threatenin’. Green arrrgyle? They’d just laugh at me. Then shoot me.

For sock that inspire fear, look no further. You see all those skulls?  Each one represents an opponent who met an…unfortunate end.

Here are some truly fearsome socks. With socks like this, you’ll scare off foot fungus. Aargh! gyle Socks by Camille Chang.

So, mateys. How are you celebratin’ this magnificent holiday?

I’m so into stranded color work these days. No matter what, I’ve got to have at least one stranded project on the needles.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a simple stranded mitten pattern on Ravelry called January Mittens. I decided this project would provide a good opportunity for me to experiment with a fibery phenomenon called yarn dominance. 

A few notes about yarn dominance: When you knit stranded color work (let’s assume we’re talking about just two colors), one yarn is always coming from above and one is always coming from below. The yarn coming from above has to travel just a little farther than the yarn coming from below and, as result, that “above” strand is just a little bit tighter. This tightness makes that stitch smaller and the yarn recedes into the background. The lightly looser strand coming from the bottom does not recede; its larger stitches stand out, loud and proud in the foreground.

Playing around with yarn dominance can make a big visual impact in your stranded color work.

Like this:

I knitted one mitten with the dark gray yarn held dominant, and one mitten with white yarn held dominant. Can you tell which is which? It’s subtle but it’s definitely there.

*     *     *    Veering off topic   *     *     *

In stranded color work, if one yarn is playing the dominant role, what role does the other one play? Submissive?

That makes my knitting seem so much more outre and exciting.

*     *     *     Veering back on topic     *     *     *

I’m having trouble deciding which mitten I like better. I might actually like the one with white yarn held dominant. Some of the details in the pattern jump out more when they’re not drawn so strongly. Veeeerrry interesting. 

It’s going to be 80 in southern Minnesota today. The leaves are still firmly attached to the trees and stubbornly green. But in a few weeks all of that is going to change and I’m going to be ready.

Over Labor Day weekend, I finally finished weaving in the ends on my Plum Island Pullover.  It’s a simple, gansey style sweater, with a slouchy, comfortable shape. The pattern is by Alison Green.

The decided to knit this sweater during one of those rare moments of yarn-related serendipity. I had a pattern I wanted to knit and exactly the right yarn in my stash, the right yardage and everything.  How often does that happen?

I used Imperial Yarns Columbia in the Indigo Heather colorway.

 

 

I just can’t help myself. Right now I have to knit stranded colorwork mittens. I’m on my third pair in as many weeks.

Maybe this will be the knitted “thing” everyone gets for Christmas this year. Last year it was hats.

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