Obsessing over colorwork yokes

The last project I need to plan for Amsterdam shopping is a sweater for myself. I know that I want to make a long-sleeve pullover, and that I want it to incorporate a technique that will challenge me. Although there are quite a few tempting cables and boxy shapes on my radar, right now I (like everyone other knitter in the world) am all about the colorwork yoke. This sweater motif has been super popular lately, so there are a number of really exceptional patterns to choose from. As in the case with the lopapeysa for Bryan, since I haven’t made a garment like this before, I want to work from a pattern that is expertly constructed and widely crowdsourced for tips and pattern support (not having in-person access to a knitting community or LYS makes these considerations really important).

Right now I am crushing hard on all four of these designs:

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Top left: I love Ysolda’s patterns so much that I’m leaning towards Threipmuir mainly because I know it will be a joy to work (it’s also a striking, modern take on classic lopapeysa motifs).

Top right: Brooklyn Tweed recently released Voe, a Gudrun Johnsonon design. I really like the fit and deep yoke on this one. Like Threipmuir, this one is knit in fingeringweight. 

Bottom left: The uber-popular Birkin sweater originally published in  Laine magazine is on everyone’s needles and I think it’s gorgeous with that drapey fit. I’m just not sure if the florals are for me right now.

Bottom right: Treysta is another lovely design from Laine with a traditional yoke pattern. It can be made in sturdy Icelandic wool or in a softer worsted weight, so that’s interesting.

Picture: Someone just pick for me, ok.

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Man Sweaters

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It’s been a couple of years since I knit Bryan a sweater – and by a couple I mean that’s probably been at least four (Update: According to Ravelry, it’s been five!) Since I am planning ahead for my holiday shopping in Amsterdam, I’ve decided to pick up sweater supplies for both Bryan and me, as well as small amounts of a couple of specialty yarns for smaller projects, like socks and hats.

I picked out a few classic pullover sweaters to show Bryan, including two by Jared Flood and one from Pamela Wynne’s great new book, Handsome: Man Sweaters for Every Body. I threw in a couple of colorwork lopapeysa-style sweaters for fun. I kind of assumed he would want something tailored and basic, so I was pretty thrilled when he asked for Riddari by Védís Jónsdóttir. I love the look of this pattern, and another plus for me is that, since it is so popular, there is a wealth of good advice regarding pattern clarifications and modifications. Also, top down construction is just the best. Never mind, this thing is knit bottom up – oops! I’m going to pick the palette in store so I can really see colors, but Bryan and I both likes the grey combo of this one.

This will be the first time I’ve done a colorwork sweater, so it’s going to be a good learning experience for me. I’m also leaning towards a colorwork pattern for my own sweater – more on that soon.

Picture: Although if I want to use the original Istex yarn, I’m going to need to buy it online…

The Orange Thing is Done

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A few weeks ago I finally finished the orange thing. And guess what – I don’t hate it! The color is still mystifying me, but the garment itself is actually super wearable. I knew this was going to be a big piece of fabric since I both extended the stockinette body and added extra lace repeats. It blocked up to well over seven feet long, so it’s great for wearing in all sorts of drapey ways. Also, big style points for the geometric, structured lace without points.

I surprised myself by deciding to keep this for myself instead of giving as a gift – it’s a great weight and I don’t have anything like it in my wardrobe. I think I’ll do another shawl next year for my personal wardrobe, but that one going to be thick and warm – maybe an asymmetrical construction like Martina Behm’s much-loved Viajante or Brickless shawls on larger, cozier scale. 

Picture: The color may be questionable, but I really liked working with this modest yarn – Cascade Forest Hills. It blocked up really crisply and gives the lace a nice defined shape. 

Sister Knits

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My two favorite people to knit for are my sister and my husband – so it’s only right that both of them are at the top of my project list for winter. I usually make a couple of hats a year for my sister, at her request and often from wool that she has personally picked out for color or texture. I plan to make a hat to bring to her over New Year, but I’d also like to cast on something larger for her – right now I’m leaning towards an unconventional shawl or wrap. Right now these are leading my inspiration list:

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All of these patterns have distinct similarities, but I’m liking the idea of specialty yarns in lots of colors, interesting construction, and multiple textures. Any of these would be fun to knit and fit her style, so I think I’ll just have to let her pick her favorite.

Amsterdam Ahead

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I mentioned recently that we’ll be in Amsterdam for the New Year – I’m really looking forward to my first visit to this lovely city, even if the weather is almost certain to be quite cold and wet. The best part is that my sister and brother-in-law will be flying from the US to meet us there, and I’ll have a few wonderful days to spend with my sister checking out all the best fiber haunts in town. This trip is also likely to be the only time I’ll be in a high-end yarn store for the foreseeable future (since those don’t really exist in Ukraine yet), so I’m going armed with a proper shopping list.

Knowing that the season will be frosty and some stores will have holiday closings, I’m trying to map out some of the places on my list ahead of time in order to make travel through the city as pleasant and easy as possible. Topping the list, of course, is Stephen & Penelope, the destination yarn store that is de rigueur as knitting tourism goes. I plan to do the bulk of my yarn-buying here, and it will be really nice to see some very popular yarns in person for the first time – including lines from Hedgehog Fibres and Undercover Otter. In fact, Malia from Stephen & Penelope recently published a Knitter’s Guide to Amsterdam for Pom Pom Magazine. It’s quite a helpful little guide, and I’ll be taking her suggestions as I sketch out a list of activities.

Although I am going to Amsterdam with a yarn-buying mission, I’m really not much of a shopper in general terms anymore (living abroad with two suitcases to your name will do that to you). What I’m looking forward to the most is finding cozy little cafes where my sister and I can hole up and knit away the long winter afternoons.

Picture: Stephen & Penelope, via Pom Pom Magazine. 

Clearing the Queue

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One of my favorite knitting podcasts is Felicia Lo Wong’s delightful Sweet Georgia Show. It’s beautifully produced, and I always really appreciate Felicia’s lens of intentionality and process-driven creativity. She’s recently branched out into a YouTube vlog called Taking Back Friday, and her episode from this week really got me thinking. Tellingly titled “I deleted my Ravelry Queue”, this episode has Felicia talking about deleting her entire Ravelry queue and then building a criteria for what and how patterns should be added from now on. Do you want patterns that make you grow your skills? That fill a gap in your wardrobe? That challenge you?

I found this really thought-provoking and freeing. A quick scan of my own queue shows that, despite some clearing-out a few months ago, I still had over a hundred patterns in there, some going back as far as 2010. Now I don’t know about you, but I think I can say for myself that it it’s taken me almost eight years to get around to a project, I just don’t really want to make it enough. I’ve got projects on there that were intended for particular yarns I had in my stash at some point, and patterns that were just there for the sake of comparison. In fact, I’ve got so much stuff on there that it’s not really that useful as a project management tool anymore. So (you saw this coming, right?) – I cleared it out!

I’m now down to a modest 20 patterns – 20 patterns that I am totally excited about and can actually see myself making in the near future. It was surprisingly refreshing to give myself permission to start fresh, but I guess I needed someone else to give me permission to even consider it. Earlier this year I changed all of my social media handles, all of which had been around for at least six or seven years – or more. Just like clearing the queue, it felt refreshing, like taking off clothes that didn’t fit quite right anymore. Clearing the way for more growth (and, now, lots of bolder, more challenging projects, too).

Picture: Also this week I made some doilies and potholders for the house, but they are too boring to write a post about! 

knitting (mitts) in public

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I spend a lot of time on trains. And by a lot of time, I mean a volume of hours as well as frequency: from my western city, just a simple trip to the capital city of Kyiv is twelve hours or more. Happily, I’m far from the first knitter to observe that public transportation can be a great time to catch up on small, portable projects. This past week saw me travelling both to our beautiful neighboring “big” city, Lviv, for time with friends and shopping, and then out into the nearby Carpathian Mountains for a conference. I took advantage of my train time by working on a pair of Lovisa Armwarmers.

All fall I’ve been planning to make mitts out of the two skeins of soft but durable Classic Elite Inca Alpaca that I brought from the US. I’m actually quite anxious to have these items in my wardrobe since my office is quite cold – I need something that is warm but fitted enough to stay out the way while I’m working, and my only exiting pair of handknit mitts are too bulky for comfortable typing.

I originally thought that I would make another pair of the beautiful Travelling Cable Handwarmers, which I first made last winter, in white, for one of my sisters. I also kicked around a couple of different cabled mitts, but then on a whim I decided to try out the Lovisa pattern, which is an older pattern I had never come across before. I haven’t done any colorwork recently so this was a fun departure, and it turns out that I have just about enough leftover grey worsted weight in my stash to knit the contrast sections. I’m going to play around with this pattern a little to get a customized fit, since I want it to hug my wrist and my gauge is a little larger than called for. I think there’s a good chance I’ll have enough leftover alpaca to make a set of cabled mitts as well – not a bad thing, since I’m going to be wearing these on the daily for the next few months.

Pictured: Knitting in public – be it buses, trains, coffee shops, or park benches – is pretty unusual in Ukraine. Taking pictures of yourself knitting in public is even stranger.