Finished: Cool Wool Serra Cardigan

Finally, a handknit cardigan to suit my natural grace:
handknit cardigan
I’m so bad at having my picture taken… I keep talking while posing.
Turns out I’m not a very gracious talker. (What word requires me to stick out my tongue??)

Anyway. Cardi done! 450 grams of sportsweight Lana Grossa Cool Wool, knitted on 2,75 mm needles (3 for the sleeves). 14420 meters. The blocking evened out the stitches nicely. I wonder how the collar will keep, it’s meant to roll a bit.

I’m glad with it. It was a fast knit, six weeks from start to finish! Not much thinking required, just follow the pattern. Ish.
handknit cardigan

When I knitted the collar I decreased in the neck and at the corners with the shoulders, so it would sit a bit more snug in the back of my neck:

At the upper half of the collar I did some shortrows so I have a bit more collar around my neck than I have at the midfronts:

The pattern starts with the shoulders and then stitches are picked up to knit the cardigan top down. The ends and beginnings of that picking up is not very beautiful:

Oh. Shh! Neighbours are watching. Better act as if I belong here. Fake your status woman! There, that’s better:
handknit cardigan

Alright, that lasted all of two seconds:
handknit cardigan
Can’t fool the neighbours I guess. We lost their respect anyway, the moment we painted that door red.

Cardigan-wise I’m not entirely happy with the back. It could have had more shaping and thusly flattering the small of my back:
handknit cardigan
Critiques the woman on felted flipflops and hacked off socks for leg warmers with a chopped up pullover for a cowl,  standing outside of her outrageously red front door in an otherwise respectable street.

Yeah. A more flattering back shaping would have certainly brought more glamour to my life.



Strong urge to knit a cardigan

Every Saturday evening when I’m at the cabin and mentally preparing for travelling to the city the next day, I have the strong urge to start a new cardigan. I don’t know why.

I do know I already have 4 cardigans on the needles….in various degrees of finishing. All I need to do is get them out of the wool cabinet in my living room in the city and start knitting on them again. But I don’t.

Instead I bring a bucket full of white wool for a bodice and my green bouclé handspun for a yoke to the city. Or all the Norwegian yarn I had. All the Irish yarn too.

Each Sunday I’ve brought yarn for a cardigan to the city. Haven’t casted on though. Yet, today, I’ve gathered up all the dark handspun. I even spend hours deciding upon a pattern…

This is 134-17 Mist by DROPS design:

Large needles, fast knit. Koffieboontjes! The vintage Dutch lock rib, my favourite.

But upon inspection this pattern is knitted bottom up and seamless, which means you need to have gauge spot on. Also: I never figured out how to incorporate sleeves when going bottom up, and closing for the shoulders.

I’m rewriting this top down. Also I prefer the look and shape of Colors of Kauai: set in sleeves. So basically I’m rewriting Colors of Kauai for needles 10 mm.
With the DROPS pattern look and its koffieboontjes, because I do like the look of it (apart from the decreases at the top). Top down also means I can make it as long as I want to. I want a work horse for winter wearing.

I’ve tried to knit with this yarn before. I did nearly a whole Wrenna cardigan but I really don’t like the lace stitches in this bulky yarn. Mine is not as beautiful as the pattern picture:

pattern Wrenna by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes:






There’s also Iceland by Stephanie White:

Which I once made into a more fitted cardigan called Sidewind:

The special thing is that the leaves run sideways on the sleeves in accordance to the front/back panel even though it’s not knitted as part of those panels. Here you can see it all started with a rectangle that I wrapped around myself, then I added a part consisting of a sleeve, a top yoke (shirt sewing terminology, not a knitted yoke) and the second sleeve:

I started the sleeve with a gusset and half a sleeve. Then I worked to the wrist cuff, turned and somehow added the back part of the sleeve, having the leaves run the other way.

I’d love to reknit this sweater. Solve that problem of flowing leaves without knitting half sleeves sideways. But better not with the bulky dark yarn. That just doesn’t look good in YO stitches.

Well what do you know, another Saturday evening gone and I didn’t knit a stitch.

I did remember that there’s this pattern in my bundle called Love to Make it One Day:

It’sConcrete by Nicole Feller-Johnson
Easy to make, gauge not important. Start a square until wide enough to think about arm sleeves. Think about a warm neck instead: make it a bit higher, perhaps add a few decreases so the collar won’t gape.

Reminds me a bit of Drops’ Eskimo Shrug that I knit into a Franken-eskimo-vest before and which has inspired me before to knit that other cardigan that started with a panel on the upper back:

Those weird things happening at the armpit… knitted lines towards the apex of my bust.
With the weird buttonholes not matching up with the front panels.

I only wear this one when at the cabin. But not because of the weird things. Because I’ve gone off this colour completely. Turquoise, mint, bluegreen, teal. Don’t want it.
It feels like orange to me. Bluegreen is the new orange and I don’t want it.

Time to wrap this up. My Saturday evening is spend, cats and husband are milling around the room, hinting they want to go upstairs.

So: skip rewriting Colors of Kauai in a ridiculous large gauge. Start a back panel in the round, like Concrete. Get to the front. Remember to make it high in the neck at the back. Add some sleeves. Make it a good length. Add buttonbands and let them have koffiboontje mock rib like the DROPS pattern up top.
Need to make up a name for it.

Oh! I haven’t even told you about the yarn. It’s an oldie but a goofie 😉
400 grams, 700 meters. Short stapled organic fleece, akin to Zwartbles. All spun in one weekend back in January 2010 when I was fairly new to Ravelry and spinning and participated in a spin-along.

I spun it semi long-draw ON A LOUET S10 and Lillepoes was very interested:

finishing Holle Cardigan, my sturdy eyelet button hole and updates on previous tops.

I spend some time carefully finishing Holle Cardi. It needed a good button hole to go with 1×1 ribbing. (*Ktbl, p* ribbing at that); an icord all around and blocking (after I pluck away all the cat hair it has attracted).

For a good button hole I searched Ravelry and found a thread asking this very question that was started 19 months ago.

The One Row Button Hole Tutorial by Neoknits was recommended. This feels like a very intuitive correct button hole so I’m trying it out. It’s really good! Another good one is the Tulips button hole by Techknitter. It specifically reinforces the sides and top.

For Holle Cardi I have itty bitty tiny buttons, they’re really more studs than buttons.
I tweaked the one row button hole a bit to make it even smaller, a sturdy eyelet button hole:

That’s a good button hole.
Bottom, sides and top are reinforced. It won’t “lubber”(… what’s that called in English? “grow loose and flappy”?)


  1. wrap p-stitch (slip it, don’t knit it)
  2. pick up strand and knit it
  3. put needle into next two stitches (one is twisted, on p stitch), knit them together right to left (this is a ssk manner I suppose, I’m doing continental so it works out differently for me)
  4. slip previous knitted stitch over
  5. This is the bottom of one hole doneOn the next row:
  6. turn work and from the right side: cable cast on 3 stitches
  7. take next stitch (don’t knit it, this is the wrapped but unknit p-stitch from the previous row) and slip last new stitch over this unknitted stitchOn the next row:
  8. adjust stitch count at each button hole: k first 2 stitches of the button hole top together.

In pictures:
WRAPPING THE P-stitch: slipping the stitch to and fro while wrapping the yarn around it.

PICKING UP THE STRAND after the wrapped p-stitch:


That’s the bottom of the button hole done.
I didn’t take pictures from the top part :s

But it goes like this: you knit the stitch before the wrapped p-stitch and you increase 3 stitches in that, cable cast on wise. (do this with the right side facing you for a neat looking result.) Then you take the third newly created stitch and slip it over that wrapped p-stitch from the previous row. Poor p-stitch, still not knitted!
That’s the top (almost) done.
On the next row you knit together that wrapped p-stitch with the second cable cast on stitch from the top part. It finally got knitted, pfew.



Holle Cardi I-CORD
I then gave the front and neck part an i-cord as per pattern (Colors of Kauai by Hanna Maciejewska, paid for pattern)
After that I continued it on one side of the button band and went back to the other one because I found the button bands looked better with an icord finish at the hem.


I’m still busy picking cat hairs away from the cardu but I hope to block it this weekend and then sew on my studs next week and show you my finished cardigan. But it already feels finished!

Updates on the other two garments that felt “finished” but weren’t: Petrie Shell and Pumpkin Ale.

Because I have to pace energy and the enduring of impulses carefully I couldn’t just go out last week and buy cross grain ribbon for Petrie Shell. But I did look around the house and found some curtain ribbon. That band that you can put hooks in. “Wrinkle band”? It’s wide enough and stiff enough:

I sewed it in, while closing the knitted edging with a three needle bindoff.
But the ribbon is white and it shines through the dark blue knitting. It looked aweful.
I took it out and resolved to go look for something dark at the next opportunity I had. Which was last Wednesday when I managed to walk into the city centre, to the market. There’s a notions stall there. They didn’t have cross grain ribbon but I found a bit of black stiff elastic band which will do fine I think.

The only thing is: when I tried the Petrie Shell on to see how the white ribbon would look I found that the fit didn’t please me. I’m not sure exactly how or what, I need to try it on again to see and think about solutions.
But overall, it just didn’t look sophisticated enough to wear in the city. The shoulders were too bare. The boat neck cut into my throat. There were some serious issues I didn’t feel like looking into at that time.
So Petrie Shell has been parked (in my wool closet in the city) and now that I have the black ribbon I can try it on and see what’s what. That’s planned for next week.

Previous weekend I’ve worn Pumpkin Ale to the Knitters’ party! Even though it was a scorching hot Summer’s Day and it still had massive holes in the pockets, I was wearing it and showing it to my friends. I got many compliments and I was very glad to because I was still a bit shy about the fit (with it’s short back and unpleasant arm holes and me butchering the yarn thickness and probably the pattern) but that’s all alright now. They said it looked good and I don’t think they were being polite.

My friends who know the pattern, the Wollmeise yarn and/or this specific colour where especially appreciative and that means a lot to me. One always learns so much from expert’s opinions.

This weekend I hope to raid my fabric stash and find some fabric for the lining of the pockets and hopefully sew them in too. (I could have knitted the rest of the pockets with the remaining yarn but I’d already set my mind on getting these cuffs in that yarn:

These are Keep Warm Wristwarmers by LondonLeo, a free pattern.

The cabling echos the cables of Pumpkin Ale Cardigan. Especially when you cross the center cable in the middle, which I did:

But at this point my shoulder started to protest and I once again resigned that I should not knit fiddly small things. No cables. No small objects on small needles.

I guess that means that the gloves that Tilly Trout podcasts makes me want to knit are out too? She made these last year, in self striping yarn, and they just make me smile and giggle inside 🙂

Tilly Trout’s Good old fashioned proper gloves in Opal sockyarn colour 8617 Cake pops.

I once made a pair like these and I’d really would like another pair. For smiles and inside giggles!
Have a look at my Party Paws:

That’s me, back in Winter 2009/2010 when I was really ill, mostly bed bound. My nose was cold all the time! I think this was New Year’s Eve and I had just knit that nose-cosy to go and have a look outside 🙂
The gloves are knit in some weird, fluffy, self striping sport weight:

Party paws indeed!
Knit in sportsweight, on fairly big needles, no cables. Surely not too fiddly for my shoulder to knit again?

I’ve put them on my list for next year, thinking about a pair like this already makes me smile. A nice invitation to buy some giggly selfstriping 6 ply yarn next time I’m in a wool shop. 🙂
Always plan ahead for the eventuality that you find yourself in a yarn shop.

Progress on Deco Cardi: a better diamond

I redesigned the way the diamonds stack together:

There’s a purl in there and the dominant line doesn’t cross over to the diamond below. In the next stack the other line will be dominant so as to alternate in each individual diamond.
It kind of works. It’s a bit hard to see by now because I’ve frogged this piece for 15 times now and the yarn at the purl stitch is getting a bit fuzzy. Fuzzy yarns conceal things.
But I’m ok with this, I’m working downwards now, I want to get this cardi in progress.

The hip increases have already been put in. I’m back at the total stitch count of 108 stitches now, the same that will go into the lower border.
I’ve also started two other stacks of diamonds. They will be two diamonds high. The one in the picture will be four high.

I’ve spend some days grubling about. (to gruble = Norwegian for pondering and I personally insert some muttering as well)
Because I was rather dumb when I positioned that first stack of diamonds. Its centre stitch is in line with the border I want to knit, it is at stitch number 39. Which is actually number 41 once the hip increases are in place. The border is *1k,3p* with extra k at the end. (and two edge stitches which I forgot and have to fudge once I approach the border.

But as I want the diamonds at the bottom in a particular rhythm of high and low diamonds I needed this stack to be anywhere but #41. At the moment it forces one side to have a high diamond and the other half a low one.
The two sides of the front panels will never mirror each other when it’s at #41. I tried and sketched and thought about other sizes diamonds and magically increasing some parts and end up with 112 stitches or even 120, just to make things work.

I could bore you with the mathematics but the summary is that I did it wrong and it’s never going to be right.
I don’t understand, I spend hours designing it and counting out stitches in the first place. How can I’ve made this mistake?

In terms of solving this mistake I spend the last few days trying to make the numbers work nonetheless, but they won’t. Along the way I’ve given up on putting a pocket in there. That would require my last brain cell to overheat, I’m sure.
I seriously contemplated frogging it all and starting all over, placing the first diamond at a more appropriate number.
But having knit that part sixteen times already and having no guarantee my head will be good this time I decided against frogging. There we are. My left front panel won’t match my right and that’s the end of it. If the cardigan-police comes by and dares to comment I’ll refer them to my off-kilter Minty handspun Wintertrui 2014. It’s a design feature, darling!

But the head not working has me rather annoyed. It’s a real nuisance when you unexpectedly encounter bad mental capabilities.
I guess I better get used to it because it’ll probably progress with age. And I better be on alert whenever I’m under stress or relapse in ME because that’s when the head goes too. I’m still muttering a bit, all this reknitting and redesigning has cost me so much knitting time.

While grubling and grumbling and getting my head to work I did get a lot done on the Spring Brioche shawl though. Because once the thinking is out of the way the actual knitting is smooth sailing. Especially in quality yarns.

Finished: Wintertrui 2014!

It’s finished! It’s comfy! It’s handspun!  (Hmm? you think I buttoned my cardigan wrong? So did I. But I didn’t.)

How smart of us, that’s you and me dear reader, to figure there would not be enough blue wool for the whole cardigan. That we decided to use white wool for the back panel. And to see how far we’d get on for the sleeves but have the white wool standing by. The sleeves are long and cosy and we are champions in estimating meterage!

This is what’s left of the blue yarn.
Champions I say!

Champions who probably will wear their cardigan unbuttoned in 2015.

Now, while it’s still light outside, I’ll have a look at Peabody Sweater. Will I finish two garments on the last day of 2014? Update next year also known as tomorrow.

Cast on: Donegal Deco Cardi

For the longest time I’ve been wanting to knit a cardigan with Art Deco decoration.
Last year I looked at stranded knitting for that. Earlier this year I tried to start it in brioche stitch because that was easier on my shoulder. And recently I trawled the Ravelry pattern database and Pinterest for Art Deco garments and got so inspired!

And now, in the last days of 2014, I’ve actually cast on with a design all ready in my head and with gauge spot on!

Here’s a neck hole, shoulders, front and back panels and two sleeves all on one needle! And on one cat!

It’s a top down cardigan, in that blue Donegal Heather aran weight that magically appeared in my house around Saint Nicholas’ birthday. Needles are 4,5 mm and a gauge of 14 stitches to 10 cm (= 4 inches)

The pattern says to cast on with a provisional cast on but I was seated under the cat and did not have waste yarn within reach. I used Tillybuddy’s stretchy cast on and just picked up stitches. You can barely see! It’s at the small indentations on top of the shoulders.

The design will be plain on top (as to provide a stage for the sparkling details of shawls, jewellery and my face) and will feature that beautiful slipped stitch ribbing I used in February Sweater.

Leading up (down) to the ribbing will be some features as inspired Lauriel, from Ysolda Teague:

The beauty of this feature is threefold:

  1. it’s beautiful
  2. it’s worked top down
  3. it’s set in plain stockinette stitch. Usually features and cables are set in reverse stockinette stitch. Ysolda marks the outline of the feature with stitches through the back loop with make the stitches rotate a bit. Clever.

must change bottom of feature so it will line up with a single slipped stitch column.

The cardigan pattern I’m using is Viola: Short-sleeved cardigan by Kristeen Griffin-Grimes
It’s in the book French Girl Knits and has the same gauge I knit the Donegal in. I love it when I don’t have to think and can just follow instructions. My mind is then free to do other things such as listen to Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, read by Stephen Fry. Or think about the universe of Serenity.

It has a button band worked sideways so I can play a little with how roomy the cardigan will be. I’ll again use the slipped stitch ribbing which comes from the pattern Deco by Kate Davies:

One of the Art Deco patterns that provided inspiration.

And it’s showing a cardigan over a fun dress!
I love fun dresses, I’m trying to make some. I’ve just made one practise dress from the pattern I got at Saint Nicholaas’ birthday: Bleuet Dress by Deer & Doe. My dress is not good enough to show you but here’s the pattern. With a bow in the back!

Wintertrui 2014: can I start knitting already?

The choosing of the pattern for the Wintertrui 2014 has to begin from scratch. Luckily the Ravelry pattern database is a very nifty tool for this. I’ve restricted myself to looking at aran patterns only.
And with any pattern I like I look at the projects people made from it, to get a feel for how aran knits look like in real life. How they drape on real people.

Furthermore I’ve restricted myself to patterns that are free or already in my library. Just to make things easy and cheaper for me.

Since I have to supplement my handspun with extra yarn and I chose Donegal Heather for this I had a look at my Bluebird Cardigan which took me 1000 m of Donegal Heather yarn. On needles 5,5 mm. With cables.

I’ve got 700 m of the minty handspun so I can guestimate that I’ll at least get a set of front panels and sleeves out of it.

Which means I could make Snowdrift cardigan, one of the patterns in my restricted list and a long time favourite of mine. I could make it with a white collar and cuffs and a white back.

pattern: Snowdrift Cardigan by Michele Rose Orne
This has plenty of Snow Winter Queen feel to it. And the white Donegal would really work for those cables. Albeit it’s not soft enough to cuddle into properly, with your cheeks for instance. But a small shawl worn around the neck would fix that.
Snowdrift Cardigan would be well warm, too!

It’s in the first book I ever bought for its patterns. (And I have yet to knit something from it.)

Another inspiration comes from the second book I bought for its patterns (and have yet to knit from): Little Red in the City by Ysolda Teague.

Pattern: Skelf by Ysolda Teague. Could do neckline in white. Would do the body in stockinette stitch. But I don’t like the placement of the bust darts in this book.
And how would I distribute the two colours? Blue body, white arms?

There’s also Collonade Jacket by Amy Miller:

This is in aran thickness! But it’s too etherial to my taste. And I’d want it closed at the front. Could work well with the colours though: blue body, white collar and cuffs (fudge it at the sleeves).

How about Leitmotif Cardigan by Carrol Feller:

Closing at the front. Enough panels to play around with the colours. Could do the cable panel in white and the collar in blue… The handcuffs and bottom edge in white (nice cables in round yarn!), the rest in blue. I like it.

But it’s knit sideways…
And quite holey with the lace:

I wouldn’t need to do the whole thing sideways. Then I wouldn’t have to know the gauge upfront.
A sideways knit back panel would have the advantage of beging able to knit-till-it-fits. No gauge neccessary. I’d pick up stitches at the bottom of the cabled panel and knit downwards.
I could diminish the holes. And those cables would look really good in the white Donegal.
I’d knit downwards in blue then.

And that collar is proper knit-till-it-fits: just pick up stitches and knit until you think it’s wide enough. Add some buttons.
hmm. I like. 🙂

There’s also another fairy tale knit in aran: Bella Paquita by Marnie MacLean:

A darling pattern, in aran weight yarn. The ribbing will make it fit all my tummy rolls and make it comfortable to wear. The V-shape flatters my body shape.
I could do clear colour blocks: top in blue, ribbed bottom in white. Or vice versa.
Or I could do the top in blue, the neck band in white, change midway in the sleeves.
It’s a free pattern 🙂

Ah. The gauge is 18 stitches to 10 cm. How do they get that? I’m at 12,5 stitches. So mine would look more butch than this lovely. Also I’d have to recalculate the pattern. That’s two times meh.

hmm. Most aran sweater patterns in de Ravelry database have a gauge of 18 stitches to 10 cm. Guess I better do a quick search on bulky yarns to see where it gets me.
a few hours later:

I’ve looked at things. Thought about things. With my gauge being so different from gauge in aran patterns I think I should definitely go with “frankenstein” patterns.

I’ve brought it down to

  1. the Eskimo Shrug with a nice panel on the back and frankensteining it as I go.
  2. Snowdrift Cardigan
  3. Leitmotiv Cardigan

After a walk outside I came back in and looked at these three patterns while holding a ball of mint yarn and a ball of white yarn in my hands For looking but also for feeling. Snowdrift Cardigan I’d rather have with a softer white collar so that one’s out.

Remains Eskimo Shrug and Leitmotiv Cardigan.

And that’s when I saw it: if you start the Shrug with a panel in white cabling and place it sideways, you’ve got Leitmotiv Cardigan.
And if you start Leitmotive Cardigan with just a panel at the top back then you’re basically knitting DROPS Shrug.

I could have started knitting Wintertrui two days ago!

pockets! Love me some pockets. These are brilliant:

pattern: Buds and Blooms by Alana Dakos

Old Town cardigan: great pattern for the brain fogged

Old Town cardigan, it’s amazing how well this pattern by Carol Sunday is! As long as I don’t try to outsmart it and just do what it says it comes out great. It’s a great knit for when I’m brainfogged or distracted by a movie or outdoor scenery.

It’s top down and I’ve already separated for the sleeves. I’m doing those first because after that I can knit the body until I run out of yarn.

I had a little bit worries about the first sleeve. I started it in the round, as is my custom. And on a needle bigger than I’m knitting the body because I knit small tubes more tight then large tubes.
But it showed a ladder where I had the magic loop:

I want this to be a Smart Lady Cardigan. One I can meet my Serious Grown Ups in and not give away that Little Mrs. Gnome is my secret identity.

So I frogged it back and decided to work the sleeves flat. As the pattern suggests in the first place. I went back to the original needle size which is way smaller than most people use because I’m such a loose knitter. I get gauge though. One car ride further and it was going marvelous, I’m already down to the elbow!

Then I got a bit worried because although I get stitch gauge on this small needle, I probably do not get row gauge. Which would mean I was decreasing faster than the pattern wanted. Resulting in too tight a sleeve.

So I took a bit of yarn and sewed up the sleeve I had worked so far. Tried it on:

It’s ok. It will relax a bit more with blocking and even more because this is superwash yarn, which relaxes way more than regular yarn. I’m golden.
To be more acurate: this pattern is golden.
Excellent for “just fiddling thumbs time” and yielding such a beautiful result!

I’ve already planned to make another one. In red. With “koffieboontje” stitch for the lace part. And one in green. With leaves. Also with leaves at the back panel, fanning out.

Oooh yes, I finally get to scratch that cardigan itch without having to do all this thinking and swatching and redesigning and frogging.

my projectpage is here
I’m using regular sockyarn and needles 2,75mm to get gauge at 24 st/10 cm

When it’s not “just fiddle your thumbs time” I do the “requires thinking knitting”: the Devonshire Cream Hat and the designing of the Woodland Sweater. Yesterday I spend the afternoon in bed researching the increase rate for the yoke and which animal would like to be involved in it.

Designing Woodland sweater: overall feel and style

These days I have the Woodland cardi on my mind all the time. The yarn lies on the table, talking to me about colours and contrasts. I’ve been surfing the net and learning about Fair Isle and steeks. I’ve collected pictures of styles and charts I like. By now I have an idea of where I want this to go and in this post I’ll show you, using this structure:

  • the yarn: yardage and contrasts
  • stranded knitting: design restraints and consequences
  • fair isle: what I don’t like, what I do like
  • sweater design: dated looks, timeless patterns
  • killing my darlings…
  • Woodland sweater

This is my yarn:

All Shetland type yarn, 100% wool. 2 ply, to be knit on needles 3 or 3,5 mm (fingering weight). The big skeins are from a small spinning factory in Estonia. They’ve been in business for nearly a 100 years. They used to spin the yarn known as Evilla. That name has been sold and they now spin the same quality yarn under a different name: Wool&Yarn.

  The pictures of the old mill are broken on their site, perhaps they will be repaired one day so I’m keeping them here. Here’s what google streetview of the plant looks like:


It’s lovely to support a small business connected to the long and rich knitting traditions of that region.

… while finding their website for you I may have ordered yarn with them for three more cardigans…
… because, you see, shipping costs get lower when you order more than 8 skeins…
… and I really crave green…

(what?! that’s not the right green!)

In my opinion there are two kinds of stranded sweaters: one with a yoke and one that’s stranded throughout. I’d like the whole cardigan to be stranded, not just the yoke. For warmth.


The circle yoke sweater Helsinki and stranded all over cardigan Norwegian Rose, both by FeralKnitter who really knows how to play with colours and yarn. She sells kits, patterns and workshops in the Fair Isle technique.

I looked at a lot of projects from people on Ravelry -isn’t that a lovely way to spend an afternoon? Looking at projects, getting inspired, picking up technical tips!- to find out about meterage (yardage). I looked at long sleeved projects worked on needles 2,75mm-3,25mm (light fingering and fingering yarn weight) which is what my project will be like.

It seems that a sweater with a coloured yoke needs about 1100-1300 m of the main colour and about 300 m of the contrasting colour.

For a full stranded sweater the numbers seem to be: 800-1000 for the main colour with 600-800 of the contrast colour. It does depend a bit on which colour you use for the borders and cuffs.

My main colour is the darkish warm brown, I have about 945 m of it. This is not enough meters to ensure a relaxing knit without fear of running out…
For contrast I have 764 m of the white and lots of skeins in accompagnying browns and orange.

I’ll need to be smart. Halfway I could change the main colour: below the waist white will become the main colour.

So the red brown and the white are the stars of the show. They have plenty of contrast! But not so much as hard black has with hard white. This is good because my face doesn’t have that stark contrast either, I’m more an antracite+pearl kinda gal. So these colours will work for me, even if the brown has a warm tone and I am cool.

Other colour combinations that give good contrast are the white with anything; the orange handspun with anything and the darkest handspun with the white or orange. I have arranged the skeins so at the bottom are the high contrast colours -good for clear patterning (think contour and lines)- and at the top are the more harmonious colours -good for enhancing an already established pattern (think shading)-.


  1. each row has to have two colours at most. (otherwise: yarn spaghetti + not enough index fingers to keep them apart)(I know knitters can knit with up to 10 colours in one row. But I donwanna)
  2. one colour needs to be knit no more than 4 or 5 stitches at a time. (otherwise the other colour forms a long strand at the back of the work and you easily snag on it when you put on the garment. Also: tension troubles.)

Fair Isle is the traditional knitwear from the Fair Isles off the coast of Scotland. It consists of stranded colourwork where in each row two colours are alternated every few stitches. Between rows the colours you use can change but not ín the row you are working on.

This is the typical traditional Fair Isle look:

FairisleJumperGreen.jpg pic by Scott Tankard

Modern interpretations play with colour and motives. Still clearly with the stacking of horizontal bands and the use of just two colours in any given row.

Yfsnow’s Ivy League Vest by Eunny Jang and PoofyBirdy’s wonderful vegetable interpretation of the same design.

The geometric repetition in horizontal bands is part of the tradition. I’ll probably wander away from this a bit as I’m not a fan of repeating geometrical designs, especially organized in horizontal stripes. Therefor I technically shouldn’t call it Fair Isle anymore. “Stranded knitting” would be better.

You can do a stranded pattern without obvious horizontal bands. Usually a Fair Isle pattern chooses one pattern and keeps repeating it all around the sweater for a few rows. But you don’t have to. You can change the pattern depending on where you are in the sweater:

Saint Olav and His Men Cardigan (ravelry pattern page) by Cynthia Wasner. Not particular my style… but you get the idea.

Or you can use a large overall pattern:

Rauma baby 054-5 by Rauma Designs
(this would look unflattering on a grown woman who has curves and who moves during the day, I feel)

Or you can use small shapes and scatter them around freestyle:

I like this, this is a fun way of knitting!

(But this will mix the colours visually, dampening them both. Imagine a sweater full of these crawlies…it would be both tiresome and colourwise boring to look at.)

Another idea is to use some overall pattern and put different content in each slot:
pattern Squirrel Sweater for Baby (model 11) by Tone Takle and Lise Kolstad. This red knitting and the photo are by PhairIsle
(A whole sweater full of this would look childish on me but as an idea it works)

I like this design for overall structure:

Kyllene by Kirsten M. Jensen
It has some of that timeless style feel to it. I could easily fill some of the slots with a stylized squirrel instead of a stylized tree.
But a body full of diamond shapes?…. I’m not convinced but will keep it in mind.

This is going to be a Woodland sweater. I want squirrels! And owls. Hedgehogs. Oak leaves.
But I don’t want a childish cardigan. It has to be mature, adult and stylish. No Bill Cosby sweater for me please. Or a notorious x-mas sweaters:

Go look at that Bill Cosby link, it’s a fun site, with all his sweaters identified!!

I want a timeless design. So I thought I’d look at the Art Deco era for inspiration, to find that overall structure. It provides stylistic interpretations of the highly recognizable (and thus dated) patterns of the Jugendstil/ Art Nouveau era.

When you google images for “art deco patterns” lots of horizontal organizes pattern pop up. Be it wall paper, decals or fabric. Waves, fans, circles, swirls. Enough to plop in a stylized squirrel or two.

But I don’t want a stamp repeated all over the body of this cardigan. I think it doesn’t look good.What I want is an overall pattern with some variation in it, without repetition.

I have found two nice examples of what I mean:

I think this one is by Adolphe Mouron Cassandre, a famous designer from the very era. He designed the YSL logo. I got the picture from c20thgraphicdesign

The other one I found is this one:
This is a bronze tile by Arizona Hot Dots

Both have a vertical alinement. With horizontal accents, placed randomly. These accents could be substituted for woodland creatures.

Looking now at the Fair Isle technique again I’m certain I don’t want the small, fiddly repetition designs. I prefer a novel interpretation of the colour shapes you can make with this technique. I love bolder shapes but the no-more-than-5-stitches-in-1-colour demands some serious designing inventiveness to make that happen. That small cats pattern is one example of italbeit a bit too fiddly.
This is where my love for blockprinting comes in handy. Designing with only two colours and suggesting shapes and silhouettes using contrasts, without drawing the actual lines, that’s all printing fun, baby!

Knitwear designers know this fun too:

Autumn Fire Mittens by Jouni Riihelä and Leena Riihelä. I have this very kit!

These are modern Finnish mitten designs by Riihivilla, a small one woman company, which sells yarn and mitten kits with yarn and pattern. All yarn is Finnsheep, one of my all time favourite European breeds. All colours come from plants and fungi and Leena shares her knowledge and experience about these freely. These colours have much more depth then factory dyes. Again a fellow wool woman very much deserving of our cheer. Visit her shop here: Riihivilla.

I love how the dark and the light colours are arranged in horizontal bands while the overall design flows on, vertically. You see the trees even though the stem internally changes from the darkest to the lightest colour. There’s some cunning use of contrast going on here! Worth studying.

Another inspiration is this design by Angela McHardy from etsyshop Clovaknits:

She alternates the colours in broad bands and uses the background colours in smart ways. The coloured zigzags lie on top of the white background. But in the coloured bands it’s the black that lies on top.
I particularly like how the black ventures out a bit into the first white band that borders it, at the owl’s “toes”. This could be used more, letting the lines of the animal get into the second main colour. (My main colours are white and dark red brown. The other colours will be the accents.)
This is really intelligent stranded knitting design, I am wildly inspired by it! By the designing methods that is, the design of the cushion itself runs the risk of being dated in a couple of years I think.

So that’s what’s all been in my head, milling around… I’ve noted some of my preferences: that Art Deco pattern for overall organization…. bold shapes to suggest woodland creatures….

I toyed with the yarn… I scribbled and doodled…

Although I can’t wait to explore the colour design lessons from the Riihivilla mittens and Clovaknits cushion I think I should not put them in my cardigan. I’ve come to the conclusion that focusing on this part of the design will probably make it impossible for it to be a timeless design. A lot (all?) of the charts I’ve seen for woodland creatures are firmly rooted in this era: the first two decades of this century. They are modern, with clean lines, a bit cartoonsy, a lot of cutesy, borrowing shapes and styles from ’50s and ’60s patterns. It would be nearly impossible to design one that isn’t akin to this…

Therefor a woodland creatures combination should not be the main thing in my cardigan.

The overall structure should be the main thing.

So I’ve decided to split the two. I’ll play with funny creatures and bold shapes and broad colourbands in a separate piece of knitting. A shawl or a blanket perhaps. Still stranded, still with a steek and still using the yarn in the top picture.  I’ll have such fun trying to make a funny design while trying to keep floats to a minimum! I’ve already worn my Owl Sweater around my neck to determine if this yarn is suitable for next to neck wear…

yoke sweater with owls and coloured bands? soooo 2012.


My Woodland cardigan will be build upon the feel of Kyllene, using the pattern by Cassandre, in white and dark brown,  adding two or three creatures somewhere.


Can you see what I plan to do? I’ll have the random leaves that grow from the stalks somewhere low on the cardigan but upwards they will be just random lines, not trees at all.

Except somewhere high up on my back, there one stripe will bend sideways and an owl will be sitting on it. Two or three leaves at the end.

There could be a squirrel twirled around a stalk somewhere else… perhaps on a sleeve.

Near the bottom end of the cardi the leaves could be stacked in one place , with a little hedgehog poking its nose through.

But I’ll keep the animals too a minimum, they are details. Cutesy details.

Finished: Bluebird Cardigan!

I’m proud!
And a little tilted.

Can’t tell if it’s me or wether the cardigan has hung on the chair askew but it sits right when I stand up straight and pull it a bit down on one side. As it was knitted in the round it has exactly the same rows left and right. Must’ve been the chair then.

It sits perfect! The cables gather exactly at my waist. The collar is nice and high. Sleeves are long enough.

It only used 1000m of yarn, 2,5 skeins of that wonderful Donegal Yarns Irish Heather 1.16 nm
I used needles 5,5 mm