New projects are nice

After thinking long and hard, I decided to start the Millefiori cardigan first.  I love the yarn, and I’m pretty certain on the sizing.

We went out of town over the weekend, followed by my usual 12 hour Sunday workday yesterday, so I didn’t get to work on it as much as I would have liked, but the ribbing is nearly finished! I will work on it during my break at work tonight, and hopefully later on as well.  The yarn (Ella Rae bamboo silk) is really very lovely.  Twisted ribbing is slow, but so much prettier than normal 1×1 would be in this inelastic yarn.

It’s still cold here (29 degrees currently, proving that I am no good as a weather forecaster) but I’m planing on wearing this sweater for easter, by which point it will hopefully have gotten above the freezing point!

Spring is springing (at 35 degrees)

Ok, so it’s sort of cold here, but at last I have some spring patterns to knit!

I bought all three of books/mags at my LYS today.  I haven’t knit a stitch in 5 days, I’ve been in such a funk about it still being winter and not having any new spring patterns to start on yet.  That is very unlike me, but now I’m finally feeling better!

I immediately dug through my stash and found yarn for as many projects as possible.

I may knit the Dimishing Rib cardigan first.  It’s knit in one piece, and it looks like a good transitional sweater.  I am puzzled by the lack of closure, but I am not bothered – I have a huge collection of vintage brooches, and one of them will look great closing the sweater (only at the neck.)  The yarn is Reynolds Cricket, a wool/tencel blend.  I bought it last fall, but the color was too springy for me to use in the dead of winter.  According to Ravelry it has been discontinued.  We will see how I like using it, but the gauge is perfect at least!

This is the Millefiore Cardigan.  I’m planning on using this bright green Ella Rae Bamboo Silk, which I love.  I should have enough for the smallest size, and since I expect bamboo to stretch I don’t mind that it’s a little small.  This is also a nice transitional piece.

At first I found the whisper cardigan puzzling – what is up with the wispy fronts?  But I really want to use up this yarn, and it looks easy.  I am unclear on the weight of the yarn used in the pattern, since I believe it is slightly thick/thin, but I’m using laceweight (knitpicks shadow… I think this color is discontinued?  I’ve had it for ages.)

This is my impractical knit of the season.  I have few occasions where I don’t need to be wearing sleeves (either because of a conservative workplace or because I’m always cold!) but I don’t care.  The construction (knitting the petals separately) looks tricky.  I don’t care.   I love the way this thing looks, and I’m making it out of this teal Rowan wool cotton even if I only wear it  once or twice a season.

This is Cari, from the Lenpur Lenin collection by Rowan.  All the designs are by Sarah Hatton.  I initially hesitated on buying the book, thinking she was the author of Vintage Knits, a book which I owned and really didn’t like, but it seems that was Sarah Dallas, whose designs for Rowan I also generally do not like.  I love Sarah Hatton’s designs, and there is a lot to recommend this book.  The designs are all wearable, and fashion forward without being over the top.  I prefer it to the new Rowan Magazine a whole bunch.  This is my favorite from the book, and I’m planning to use Ella Rae Silkience (as an aside, I really like Ella Rae yarns – great values for what you get, and more durable than you would think!)  The color is a medium brown, I know it’s hard to tell from the photo! The knit nook actually had the Lenpur linen yarn.  I think it’s overpriced (about $10 a ball) and that it feels very much like a cotton/tencel blend to me, which is why I’m going with this yarn (I think it contains Rayon, though I’m too lazy to check now, and all these fibers are very similar.)

Finally, I bought the Berroco book that is dedicated to Mica.  I’m going to knit this sweater using Debbie Bliss Cathay (in teal, a theme for me this year apparently.)  I felt Mica in the store, and I’m not sure what to think of it – it feels soft and slippery, but it is also textured.  It’s pricey, so I’m happy with my sub, though it is not textured and will look somewhat different.

Whew… that’s it for now!  I also like the tunic from the new IK and the Silk Cocoon Cardigan, but I don’t currently own yarn for either of those, and I’m not allowed to buy any more until I use up the yarn I just bought (for the Soap Bubble wrap.)  I did end up ordering the lion brand cotton bamboo – I ordered extra, in case I need to make a size up, and it was still super cheap.  I got cherry blossom, described as a “blush pink.”  I am firmly in the camp that redheads can wear pink, so I hope it’s a shade I like (I thought a pink cardigan sounded lovely for spring.)

Tonight I will get to swatch after dinner (I’m making a nice mushroom pasta.)  This was a light Thursday for me – I had a staff meeting but no lessons, so I’m glad to be feeling better!  Sorry for anyone who I haven’t gotten back to lately – I’ve been super busy (we are now renting out our condo, and I spent a good portion of time lately showing it and then getting the lease details worked out,) plus I have been in sort of a funk.  Hopefully I’m better now!

The end of the doldrums?

I’ve been in the knitting doldrums for weeks now.  While I love the Blooming Cardigan, I just don’t want to work anymore on heavy wool this year.  I can’t wear a sweater that heavy if it’s over 40 degrees, and I would be surprised if we have any more extended cold weather this year… next two weeks look to be in the 40s and 50s, and by then it will be March.  So I’ve decided to put it away to finish late this summer, when I get my semi-annual doldrums again and long for wool.  It is a relief sometimes to admit that knitting is supposed to be fun, and it’s ok to put something away.  I am still knitting my socks, but right now I’m longing for sweaters!  I used to freak out if I had a few weeks where I didn’t want to knit, but over the years I have come to realize that this is normal for me, and I always come back once lovely new patterns and yarns tempt me!

Knitting Daily now has Connie’s Soap Bubble wrap up for free download (for a limited time) so you should go snag it!  I wanted to start this right away, but I’m debating on a yarn sub.  The yarn it calls for, Euroflax worsted, is discontinued.  To be honest, I don’t like knitting with 100% linen anyway, so I’m not sad about that.  The question is, what to sub?  I don’t want any significant wool content, because I see the sweater as light and airy, especially with the dolman sleeves (I love dolman sleeves, which I know is very 80s of me!)  It also uses over 1500 yards of worsted weight, which is more than I have of any yarn, and I would rather find an economical choice since I need so much.  I think I’ve decided on  Lion Brand Cotton Bamboo.   Bamboo is drapey, and the I like the green and pink colors. I have really wanted to order some of their new yarns that are only available online or at their store.  It is very lightweight – slightly smaller gauge than I need, but I don’t mind knitting loosely for a garment like this, which needs drape anyway.  Does anyone have any feedback on this yarn yet?  I may order some of the stainless to try as well…

I’m also looking at yarns for the other projects in the spring interweave.  I have yarn for many of them (yay for using up stash!) so I probably won’t have to buy much else soon, other than the new Rowan and  Berroco books that I want.

Happy Valentine’s day to everyone – I hope to have new projects soon!

Vintage pattern books: Monarch 93, Styles for Teenagers

I’ve been in a bit of a knitting funk of late… I cannot get any motivation to work on my sweater, and even my socks languish in a ziploc bag somewhere… a combination of nasty, weird weather and a longing for spring, combined with a truly busy schedule.  So what better to cheer me up than a trip through this book?

I remember my teenaged years.  I was not unpopular, but neither did I exactly fit in with the A crowd.  This may have been caused in part by my clothes – to put it simply, I dressed as though this pattern book were au courant.  And while in today’s vintage friendly culture this might be tolerated, let us do keep in mind that I went to high school at the height of the grunge period of fashion.  Something about traipsing about wearing a pencil skirt and pearls while all your peers are wearing couderoys and boiled wool clogs does not get you asked to the homecoming dance, is all I’m saying.  I, of course, only listened to classical music and musical theater of an earlier vintage, so I had no idea what this “grunge rock” thing was all about.  Needless to say, I wished I could have found a nice boy, willing to wear oddly patterned cardigans like the one above.

And perhaps take me out for a coke, where we would wear our coordinating argyle sweaters (and I would ignore the faux pas of his plaid pants!)  Of course, the next thing you know, the other girls have noticed his style!

The caption over this photo reads “IT’S SMART!… So Hand Knits Go Formal!”  I actually had to check, but the blouses are knitted, at about 8 st/in.  I love the gloves… it is impossible to wear gloves like that now without looking like you are just trying too hard, but oh how I wish we could!

I believe this book was published in the mid-late 1940s, though I cannot say for certain as it is not dated.  The book does have the dedication below:

An Inspiration: We are indebted to Brigadier W.W. Southam, DSO, ED, who, as a Canadian Prisoner of War in Germany following Dieppe, designed and knitted for his wife, the sleeveless pullover illustrated below, No 960.  The Monarch designer knit this garment in Monarch Speedway and wrote the directions appearing on page 4…

Really, isn’t that a lovely inscription?  Click here to read about the battle mentioned above.

One thing I love about these old books are the vintage fair isle and intarsia patterns… they are always charming and different (one day I will get to the book containing the “camel sweater” – just wait!)

There is also a fair amount of skiing going on usually, something you don’t see in modern books.  I do not ski, as I am very risk averse, but I’m sure many people still do!  The slippers, by the way, are called “After ski socks,” which I love.  I would like a pair, I think, though I would wear mine instead in our sub-arctic kitchen, where it is always cold.

Being a book about knitting for teenagers, naturally some accessory patterns are included.

Often vintage patterns still look fresh, but I cannot recommend making a “Knob pattern beanie.”  Was there a trend for this sort of hat, or was it a crazy invention of a Monarch designer?  I fancy that I have seen one before, but I could be wrong…

There is something sinister about the one on the left, don’t you think?

The back of the book.  Somehow I have a hard time imagining the knits from the book in colors, but look what a lovely range of shades Monarch carried in their “Dove” yarn!  This book is not my favorite, stylewise, but I think it is notable that books like this – aimed at teenagers – existed.  I own others aimed specifically at preteens.  I also enjoy the wholesome look at teenagers, whether true to life or not.

I leave you with this… off to school in a grand pullover, knit in the smart new shades of Monarch Yarns. We should all use the words “smart” and “grand” more often, don’t you think?

Cardigan love

I’ll have to go against the traditional knitter’s wisdom and name spring as my favorite season.  This is mostly because I hate cold weather, and I love cardigans.  Spring pattern books and magazines are always filled with great cardigans.  This Spring’s Interweave Knits is no exception.  Last Spring’s issue was my favorite ever, and after a few disappointing issues (I did like Winter pretty well) they are back to good form!

The first (the Millefiore cardi) is my favorite.  I have some Bamboo Silk that  might work for it (in green of course!) but I will have to swatch to see.  The diminishing rib cardigan is great as well (it’s the 3rd pictured, also the cover.)  I don’t understand the lack of closure, but I think a vintage cardigan clip would look really pretty.  I have a nice aqua tencel blend (Reynold’s Odyssey) that might work.  I love the two wrap sweaters, both by Connie, and might make one (the purple one is a better shape for me.)

There are also two sweaters that are more summery that I love.

Seriously, that tank is gorgeous.  I have some teal Rowan wool cotton that it would be lovely in.  Of course, I did say no tanks, but this is so, so lovely that I will not try to resist… besides, I have to use up that stash, right?  The tunic is very Kim Hargreaves-esque I think (I am a sucker for unneccessary buttons, I tell you!)  I do not have stash yarn that would work, but that’s ok!

It was 60 degrees here today, although the 4 inches of ice on our front steps continues to not melt.  Even so, I couldn’t face my woolie sweater in progress, so I distracted myself by going vintage shopping on my day off.  I got a pretty tray mirrored vanity tray from the 50s, and I saw a few old knitting magazines, but nothing I felt that I needed.

The blooming cardigan is slow going, I won’t lie to you… I am so ready for spring, it’s getting hard to touch tweedy wool, lovely though it is.  I’ll just have to buckle down and finish, and watch some quality tv shows!

New blog feature: A look at vintage

Over time I have gathered oodles of vintage pattern books, from the 1920s-1980s.  This past week I happened upon an enormous treasure trove of them at a thrift store (the results of a closed store in town) and thought I might like to start sharing them with you!  Most of these are easy to find on Ebay, should you feel an urge to knit any of the sweaters.

Today’s magazine comes from 1979 – 101 Sweaters Vol 12, produced by Woman’s Day magazine.  My grandma was a subscriber to Woman’s day, so I have inherited tons of these.   I sometimes think that the 70s get a bad rap – after all, it wasn’t all rainbow striped ponchos and macrame.   I love 70s sitcoms such as the Bob Newhart show and Mary Tyler Moore, and I often admire the clothing worn by the female characters.  Also, I was born in 1979, so it can’t be all bad!

This is my favorite sweater from the issue – other than the slightly blouson waist, I think it looks just like something that would show up in a magazine today.  I love the cowl neckline.

This lady, wearing a crocheted pullover with knitted accents (ie the entire neckline) looks more of her time.  Isn’t that scarf snazzy?  I love it, and kind of wish this sort of thing could make an occasional comeback.  If this sweater were from the 80s it would have had enormous dolman sleeves.

I think this sweater looks very much as though it could be featured in Vogue’s inevitible colorwork story.  Actually, it looks less crazy than that section often does.  It also looks cozy, and I’m down with the color combo and the pockets.

Of course, this magazine isn’t all ladies patterns.  Sometimes the man in your life needs…

a sweatercoat!  I think more men in my life need sweatercoats, although I really want to reach into the magazine and button those buttons!  I suppose men don’t really wear sweatercoats anymore.  In fact, I know very few who would even wear a sweater, making the scenario below unlikely.

I have books from the 50s on showing whole families wearing their matching sweater ensembles.  As a knitter I can only imagine the boredom of knitting this sweater three times.  As a former child I can only imagine the embarrassment of being forced out in public like this – is there anything more dork-a-riffic than matching family sweaters and hats (Dad seems to have put his foot down on the hat issue.)

Children often get the worst of things.

This child seems to instinctively realize the pain of wearing a crocheted sack.

This baby is being eaten by his hooded blanket.  This is also the least safe looking crib (is it a crib?) that I have seen in some time.

There aren’t too many ads in this one, since it’s a special issue, but there is one of note to me.

The top says “Momcat and pals” and you can send away for a kit to make one.  Apparently they are based on a comic by B. Kilban.  I had one of these as a child (the one with a kiss on his face.)  I wonder if someone made him for me?  Must ask Mom… she used to sew a lot.  I named him Gary (also my Dad’s name) and carried him everywhere.  I would love to have one now!

This ad is in many magazines of the time, but I just love it (don’t use woolite though, it’s not that great for things.)

I’ll try to be back next week with another book – maybe one of my lovely 1940s ones?  I enjoy the excuse to go through them!

Crochet (and knitting)again

After our nasty weather this week, I think I am officially done with winter.  I may not be longing to knit tank tops, but it would be nice to knit with some nice cotton or bamboo yarn!

This is my haul from the Knit Nook Superbowl sale today.  I got enough Cathay to make a nice summer pullover or cardigan – mixed dyelots, but they look the same to me, and I can always stripe them in.  I also got a bunch of back issues of crochet today for $1 each.  I really like Crochet today, but I haven’t bought it in awhile – there are lots of cute patterns though, and I’m sure I’ll get my $1 worth!

As always with spring, my thoughts turn to crochet.  I’m really dying to make this asymmetrical cardigan, from the current IC.

I have the required yarn for the cardigan (EL Silky wool) in several colors – I’m thinking of lavender.  I also think this shawl is really beautiful – it reminds me of Icarus.

Rowan/RYC has also released their spring line of patterns.  I am not (to be honest) especially impressed with Rowan 45 – I like the Bloom section, but it’s nothing special, and I’ve come to realize that I do not knit fingering weight sweaters.  However, their special collections are wonderful!

These patterns are from RYC Classic Reminiscence and the Lenpur linen collection.  I probably like these two collections enough to buy them.  There is another new collection for milk cotton, and one for siena, but there are too many 4-ply patterns in those to be a good value for me.

I can’t wait for the spring IK, the Twist Collective, and a new book from Kim Hargreaves in March.  Looks like a great spring!

I’ve already planned my next socks: Lobster Pot socks by Chrissy Gardener.

I think the cable looks like hearts, and I’m planning to use my Madelinetosh in poprocks (hot pink!)