FO Friday – The Lopi Sweater

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After many unplanned creative diversions, the sweater I started in November is finally finished**.  It’s entirely my own design.  It was a circuitous path but it was worth it.  It’s comfortable.  It fits well.  It’s close to what I had in mind when I started. Best of all, it looks good on!

The construction is both top down and bottom up.  The pieces met in the middle and were grafted together.  The body and sleeves were done bottom up and steeked.  The yoke is a top down raglan.  Not what I originally planned but it totally worked!

The yarn is Lett-Lopi, direct from Iceland!  It’s perfect for steeking!  I reinforced my stitches with a simple backstitch before cutting it open.  Picking up stitches for the button band is another layer of reinforcement.  That’s all I’m going to do to it.   Being a sticky wool, the loose ends are perfectly happy where they are.  I’m not worried about slipping or unraveling of any sort.  I’d certainly never attempt this with superwash.  No, this is Lopi in it’s glory.  This is what it excels at.

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You can see my reinforcing stitches on the right hand side…the little row of light green yarn.  And you can see my cut ends, just chilling there on the edge.  Before I added the button band this sweater kicked around for 2 weeks.  If it didn’t unravel then, it’s not going to unravel now.  Lopi is magic.  Plain and simple.

I thought about a decorative bit of ribbon to hide the mess but meh.  I don’t think it’s necessary.  The sweater hangs so well.  Nothing flips up or curls in where you don’t want it too.  I don’t think the inside will be seen often.  Everything lays perfect and flat.

Speaking of perfect and flat, check out this awesome button band…no puckering, no gaping, no unintentionally ruffles.

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And it only took one try!  It turns out, math totally works.  I’m just as amazed as you are!

I love the sleeves.  They’re long.  Worn cuffed, they’re long.  Worn with the cuff unrolled (thank you seed stitch for being lovely AND reversible!), the sleeves fall almost to the end of my fingertips…No need to carry fingerless gloves if you’ve got long sleeves!  This is the sort of personal touch that I love about knitting my own sweaters.

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The only thing I forgot to do was short row shaping at the back of the neck.  I wouldn’t mind a little bit more coverage at the back of my neck.  That’s a minor detail.  Maybe next time.

I have a feeling I’ve found my next favorite sweater!  Now…time to start plotting the next one!  It’s gonna be more green…


** My finish proclamation totally gets an asterisk.  The observant among you, and the OCD, may have noticed the stripes don’t match up.  D’oh!  My perfect button band apparently is not spaced evenly.  I put my buttons at regular intervals, not thinking to check if the stripes lined up.  Whoops.

As luck would have it, I was debating changing the buttons anyhow.  I think the antler buttons are too busy.  I should have gone with the wood buttons.  They’re birch branches from Iceland, they really belong on this sweater.  I bought they from a farmer on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.  Icelandic buttons definitely belong on an Icelandic Sweater.

So, this weekend, I’ll take the antler buttons off and put the birch buttons on and I’ll end make sure the stripes line up this time.  THEN, my sweater will be “done”.  In the meantime, I still plan to wear it…crooked stripes and all!

Work in Progress Wednesday!

Now, with actual progress!!

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Last you saw, I had hastily steeked my sweater, decided I didn’t like it and then cut it into even more pieces!   This weekend I set about to replace the circular yoke that was the deal breaker.

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The plan was to replace the bottom up circular yoke with a top down raglan and graft the pieces together in the middle.  Sounded easy enough, yes?

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As far as design choices, it took me a while but this is what I settled on.  Ultimately, it’s for the best.  I was throwing the kitchen sink at this sweater, at the risk of being too busy.   At least now it’s got one cohesive idea.  There’s still a lot going on with those stripes but less than before, and that’s a good thing!

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Ta-DA!  It looks like a sweater and I didn’t want to take it off once I put it on.  That’s the true sweater test for me.  It finally fits right!!

Now, about that button band…


An Impulse Steek

The beauty of steeking a sweater is the fast, no-purl cardigan that results.  Unfortunately, ripping & re-knitting slows the process incredibly.  After 3 tries at this circular yoke (and 3 failures), I couldn’t take it anymore.  Maybe cutting my sweater open would improve the fit?  (Ha!  Right!)

Yeah, I kinda knew I wasn’t solving my problem but I went ahead and did it anyhow.  I wanted forward momentum, even if I hit a snag.  Standing still gets nothing done and that’s where I’ve been with this sweater for weeks.

So, before I could stop to think about making a rash decision, I did it.  Reinforcing the steek was easy.  I went with a simple backstitch.  The yarn is Lett-Lopi, the classic Icelandic wool.  Lopi is, quite literally, made for steeking.  Reinforcing the stitches prior to the cut probably isn’t even necessary.  The backstitch, while not the most sturdy reinforcement, is more than enough in this case.

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Also, it’s very fast.  When making impulse decisions, fast execution is imperative.  No need to let logical and rational thought catch up. It only gets in the way.

Before I knew it, my reinforcing stitches were in place and my pullover-cardigan metamorphosis was complete.

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Sadly, my cardigan did not emerge as a beautiful butterfly but rather a lopsided moth.  It’s beautiful in its own way and it could lead a lovely life, for a moth, once it learned how to fly with lopsided wings.

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It doesn’t look too bad in the photo.  It’s got all the pieces we recognize a cardigan to have.  It’s still not quite right in the armpit though.  It’s simultaneously gaping and tight.  It’s not a comfortable sweater.   I’m blaming the circular yoke shaping.  It just doesn’t agree with me.

So, New Plan: save the sleeves & the steeked body, discard the circular yoke portion and replace it with a top down raglan portion, grafting the old pieces onto the new one.  BAM! Perfect cardigan!

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My deconstructed sweater

It’s almost like starting a new project…new cast on, new design choices to make! I predict a smashing success! (I also predict, my next sweater…I’ll just follow a pattern) (maybe) ;)


 

WIP Wednesday – One Sleeve

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It’s been a crazy couple of weeks!  I hardly know where to begin.  The new job is officially in full swing.  It’s definitely a ‘real’ job.  It’s taking the best hours of the day and most of my mental stamina.  Add in my teaching responsibilities and last weekend’s craft fair and I’ve had zero time for lounging and knitting.  It’s adulting on steroids around here.

The good news is…the efforts have paid off on all fronts.  The craft fair was successful!  I’m hoping to give you more details this weekend!  And, despite taking all my energy, there is some satisfaction in getting back to work.  I like feeling like a ‘productive’ part of society again, even if it requires getting dressed every. single. day.

And, there’s even been a tiny bit of knitting.

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Gone are the days of two day sleeves, instead I’ve got a two week sleeve.  But I’ve got a sleeve.  One more to go.  The beauty of bottom up sweaters is how quickly they come together in the end.  Once the sleeves are attached, the yoke practically knits itself!

Normally, this is the part where I would say something foolishly optimistic like ‘I can have this done in a week!’  Except, I also said I wouldn’t be christmas knitting.  I knew that was ridiculous the second I said it.  And so, this is happening as well…

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Fingers crossed that it’s only a momentary distraction!  I would love to be wearing my new sweater for Christmas dinner :)  That’s totally doable.  A full work schedule, classes to teach and a sleeve, a yoke, a steek and a button band…11 days.  I got this!

Progress, Knitting & Otherwise

In what should not come as a surprise and despite my best efforts to plan, I’m winging my sleeves.  It seems I design with needles in hand.  That’s just how I work.

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Since I’m so averse to planning, perhaps I’ll think of this as collecting data to inform a decision (that just happens to be made on the fly.)

So I colored a few sweater sleeve options to help me visualize.  I’ve been carrying it around asking knitters and non-knitters alike to weigh in.  It’s an interesting personality test.  I don’t know what it means, but I’m sure it’s deep and meaningful anyhow!

Despite loving the mismatched sleeve idea, I don’t think this is the project for it.  I’m going to go for color work in the yoke and don’t want things to be too busy.

I started with my one constant.  The sleeve cast on will be brown.

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Once I got started, a wide brown cuff to match the seed stitch on the bottom of the garment seemed natural.   From there I transitioned to stockinette and I’ve added my first stripe.  I think the next green stripe is approaching, I have yet to decide if it will be wider or stay skinny.  hhhmmm.

I’m being extra careful with these decisions because, starting tomorrow I’m back to being a full time chemist instead of a full time knitter.  My time is about to run very short.  Unlike this time when I got a job, or this time when I got a job, this is a real job.  Full time, with pay and benefits and an 8 am start time!  It’ll be my triumphant return to the chemistry lab.  Oddly enough, absence actually has made my heart grow fonder of the daily lab life so I’m looking forward to getting back to it.  It’s gonna be good.

But, as I’ve said many times, funemployment has been pretty awesome for me.  I’ll miss it and remember it fondly!  For now, I’m going out to enjoy my last day of mid-afternoon shenanigans!!!

 

There’s always a but.

Last we spoke, I was pleased with my progress.  I was patting myself on the back for a job well done (despite my lack of clear vision.)  It was all working out.  Everything was falling into place nicely but…

(there’s always a but…)

Somehow, my swatch and my actual knitting were drastically different, to the tune of 20″ of extra fabric in my sweater.  Apparently denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.  I knit a significant portion of the body before acknowledging that it was huge.

My inner process knitter was so excited to be let loose on a whole sweater of stockinette in the round, I just ignored the fact that I could barely keep my stitches on a 40″ needle.

Until about 2 am, when reality came knocking and I frogged the whole thing.  D’oh!

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Oh well.  I cast right back on and got started.  Nothing else has changed, I just made a really big swatch, that’s all!  Today I’m working on my second green stripe.

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I’m not loving it yet but I’m sure I will soon enough.  It’s just so hard to gauge a whole color block from two little rows.  One thing I am certain of…the wind has picked up a chill, this sweater can’t get here soon enough!

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As always, and in spite of the previous flaws, I’m still pleased with it.  You can see my color change here and I’ve done a bit of waist shaping.  I’m not doing any math (I’d mess it up anyhow.), I’m just sort of eyeballing the last marker and deciding it’s time to do a decrease.  Or not.  I think I’m done with those decreases.

In the seed stitch edge you can see a stockinette stripe, that’s to mark the steek placement.  And you can also see evidence of my short row shaping.

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The hem isn’t uneven because it’s hanging crooked.  I’ve intentionally added extra length to the back of the sweater with a series of short rows.  I love it.  It’s a tiny little bit of personalization.  I don’t want a sweater that rides up in the back.  DONE!  I can check that box!

Still haven’t decided about the sleeves though.  I may even be contemplating some colorwork in the yoke, that might be too much though.  Edit. Edit. Edit.  I don’t have to put all the ideas into one garment.   Sometimes I need to remind myself.


 

A New Sweater

A little less conversation, a little more action.

My new sweater is finally on the needles.

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After considering many options, I did what I always do and failed to make a decision.  It’s one thing to say I want to knit a sweater.  It’s something entirely different to have a pattern and matching yarn in hand and say I want to knit this sweater!  So how did I get stitches on the needle?

I started with the only known variable in this equation…Lopi!  Since my amazing Icelandic adventure, I’ve had a giant stash of Lett Lopi, the traditional Icelandic wool.  I’m a wool person.  I call it rustic (never scratchy).  It’s light weight and warm and it comes in approximately one zillion colors…What’s not to like about that?

Deciding on a color palate was challenging.  So many possibilities.  I made lots of piles, took lots of pictures, did the black and white photo contrast evaluation, lather, rinse, repeat.

Here’s the final decision.

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Mostly.  (I reserve the right to change my mind!)

I couldn’t decide on a traditional Icelandic pattern.  I am going to use the traditional construction method though.  Bottom up, in the round, yoke neck, steeked cardigan.  That still doesn’t get stitches on the needle though.

Gauge swatch.  Easy enough.  A little math later, I had some basic numbers.  It’s still a bit of a blank canvas though.

I really want to do a crazy stripe lopi cardigan but that’s not this one.  This one is going to be more color block than stripe.  It’s still pretty plain though.

It’s gonna be cozy, so how do I up the cozy factor?  Add texture, add length, add a bit of shaping.  I started off with a wide seed stitch band.

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And a beer.  Perfect.

Somehow along the way, I decided short rows needed to happen.  Way off in the future, when I shape the neck but also, here, near the beginning.  It’ll create a bit of extra length in the back and give it a lovely rounded sort of shape.

One at a time, I’m putting all sorts of little details together.

So far, I’m pleased.

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Color change #1 is rapidly approaching.  I really hope I still like it after that!

I’m not worrying about it though.  I’m worrying about the sleeves.  What the heck do I do with them?  One solid color?  Do I match the body?  This is the downfall of bottom up.  The Sleeves need to be ready to go pre-yoke.  I haven’t ruled out the possibility of colorwork in the yoke.  That decision definitely effects the sleeves.  ACK!!  So many more decisions…if only I’d been able to make one single decision (pick a pattern), all this work would be done already.  D’oh!

The allure of my second sock is real, those decisions are all made.  And it’s the weekend, so anything could happen!  Hope you have a good one!  :)