Better the second time

Aran_sleeve1 This is the second try. The first one had a couple of cables crossed the wrong way and I didn’t like how I spaced the increases.

One thing to note about this sleeve is that the saxon braid is not centered on the piece. There’s about 1cm more on the right side than the left. According to Jean the front part of the shoulder panel should sit  about 1cm more towards the front.  So with my Aran sleeve which has a 7cm panel, 4cm of it will be on the front and 3cm will be the back. Unfortunately my notes don’t say why we need to do this. I’ll ask when we have our next class.

Aran progress

Sophie couldn’t help herself … just had to be in the picture and attack my sweater. I had to pry it out of her paws after this photo.

This is the front. The back is about half done (and looks the same).

It’s coming along ok. When I hold it against my body it almost looks like a corset … very stiff.  The yarn should soften when washed, at least that’s what happened with the swatch.

After the sleeves are finished I’ll start the gansey swatch.

Paper dolls

Last weekend I had fun playing paper dolls in Sally Melville’s Knitting to Flatter and Fit class at Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat.

The half day class was packed with lots of information but what stuck with me the most was her emphasis on maintaining or tricking the eye into see a hour glass shape.

Sally illustrated her points by having us dress our 1/8 scale silhouette with various garments.

Here are some of my “paper dolls”.

Shaped long sweater:

She said that longer shaped sweaters look better than shorter ones.  This idea really runs contrary to what I’ve always believed.  I have a tendency to make most of my sweaters (shaped or unshaped) somewhere above the fullest part of my hips in an effort not to accentuate my hips. But Sally says, “the best way to make something look smaller is to cut it in half.”

Unshaped short sweater:
This is the length I normally make. But according to Sally a short unshaped sweater is not flattering with these type of pants. The hour glass shape is lost and the eye is drawn to the hips.
Unshaped short sweater with Palazzo pants:
I’ve never worn these type of pants. Not sure if I’d look good in them. Sally says unshaped short sweaters look much better with these pants because the fullness  of the pants helps the eye see an hour glass shape.
Unshaped short sweater over a long shaped shirt: Sally mentioned that a short top can be worn over a longer one to help maintain an hour glass shape.

So many interesting concepts. Sometimes I think this type of thing is more of an art than a science. Not all of us could see what she was seeing.  One thing I did see was that I really should make my shaped sweaters longer and cut my hips in half.

I look forward to seeing her new book that’s coming out next March.

And here’s what I have on the needles … a boxy Aran sweater.


Always playing catch up

Aran_swatch The last few weeks have been challenging. I’m  trying to keep up with my knitting projects/homework but other issues keep popping up. Finally, I have a few moments to post a picture of my Aran swatch.

The full saxon braid on the left will be the center of the sweater.  The smaller one on the far right will be on the center of the sleeve. The XO patterns between the saxon braids on the swatch will be on either side of the full saxon braid.  The sides will be filled in with double moss stitch.

I was going to make set-in sleeves but changed my mind after realizing that doing so would probably mean that the last one of the OX columns would get cut off if I didn’t make some adjustments. Instead of changing the stitch pattern configuration, I’ll go ahead and redraft the pattern to include  2cm to the upper body and modifying the sleeve to be a modified drop-shoulder.

And here’s my other homework.

Six swatches neatly blocked with various notes about the blocking process.

Also, for the other class, I have the outline of my body ready to go.

These two classes should be very interesting.

Cable shuffle

Got a really slow start on my Aran swatch due to a severe head cold that came with pounding headaches. I’m feeling much better today.

I charted all the stitch patterns onto a large graph before starting the huge swatch. After 14 rows  I could clearly see that my original cable arrangement really wouldn’t work very well so I ripped out my work and cut my neatly drawn graph into sections. Breaking the graph up into sections by cable pattern made it easier to rearrange until I hit upon a workable solution (I hope).

Aran_stitches_revised I started the latest swatch last night and can’t put it down.  I’m enjoying my Addi Clicks and this Magpie Tweed.

Too bad Magpie has been discontinued. I’ve been looking for a good substitute but I haven’t found one yet. Probably because I’m very picky. I want a yarn with three plies, tightly spun, about 150 yards per 100 grams and 100% wool. I think such a yarn just isn’t made these days or isn’t easily available. I’ve heard comments that it’s just to0 thick, creating a very warm sweater that can only be worn in the coldest climates, so there isn’t a market for it these days. I understand that, but then why do manufacturers still put out bulky and ultra bulky yarn? Wouldn’t those make even heavier sweaters?

By the way, here are the stitch pattern books I’ve been using.

  • 100 Aran Patterns (Japanese) ISBN 4-529-02293-5 (the book shown in the picture above)
  • Viking Patterns for Knitting by Elsebeth Lavold
  • The Cable Knitting Handbook by Annie Maloney

Productive weekend


The raglan pieces are waiting to be blocked before I can tick it off my homework list. Nothing fancy with this one.

Sophie loved all the loose strings and couldn’t resist getting into the picture with her mouse.

Yesterday I spent most of the day doing homework for the Knit to Flatter and Fit class that Sally Melville will be teaching at the MFA Winter Retreat this year. We’ve been asked to have someone take a straight-on  photo of us in close-fit lingerie. With that photo we need to make a 1/8 scale outline of our body. While very interesting it’s quite sobering to see ones body outline (got to get back to my marathon training soon). I wonder what we’ll be doing with it.


It’s time to start thinking about the next project … a traditional Aran sweater with saddle shoulders. Unlike most traditional Aran sweaters, mine will have set in sleeves.

Swatching will start tonight using this Magpie Tweed. Before diving into the large swatch that will included all the stitch patterns in the sweater I thought I’d make some individual ones first to really see if I like them.

I’m still not sure which stitch patterns I’ll use. I’ve copied several from my book collection.

Snow Knit day


The siding was finished a day before the snow started falling and the heat was reconnected.

Today I’m working on my homework, enjoying an unexpected extended weekend. Right now the bottom-up raglan is on the needles.

A new skin

HouseI’m sitting here in a cold house with my warmest sweater and fingerless gloves on. No heat for a few days while the house gets a new skin. Kind of a crazy thing to do in early winter! The cats are freaked out by all the noise but I think they’ll survive.

I’m making up lost time with my homework.

The bottom-up raglan is ready for class.

The puffy sleeves are about to be sewn on the body. Here’s a close up of the hem.  I took out the provisional cast on, knitted a few rows and then grafted the edge to the backside through the purl bumps.

The dolman is started (no photo) but not much progress. Getting going on that one is a bit daunting after reading all the questions posed by classmates on our Yahoo group. I don’t think I can concentrate on it without heat.

By the way, that book called “The Complete Book of Traditional Guernsey and Jersey Knitting” was written by Rae Compton. It’s a nice short read packed with tons of information about various ganseys from all over Britian and Scotland. It’s got me thinking about the one we’ll be knitting for class.

Perfect day for a run


I did it and survived, my first running event ever!

Actually it was tons of fun and a perfect day to celebrate weeks of training. The weather was fantastic – 50F, a bit foggy with light mist.

On the way to the starting line I caught up with some acquaintances, seasoned marathon runners, who answered my novice questions.  I hadn’t planned on starting with others but was glad to have the company.

I accomplished my two goals, run without stopping (no matter how slow) and cross the finish line within 3.5 hours.  The last mile was difficult but the inspiring view of the Space Needle and Memorial Stadium (finish line) kept me motivated.

Thanks to everyone that kept me going by asking about my training and the race.

Today I took the day off to recuperate and happened upon these finds at a local used bookstore.