Posted in Machine Knitting

Vintage Varsity Letterman Sweater

I love the Tweed Rides and Seersucker Socials that take place in Washington DC. Participants dress in vintage inspired clothing and ride bicycles around Washington. It’s the ultimate hipster American thing and despite not having gone for a few years, I kind of love everything about it. When I first met Jordan I asked if he’d ever go with me and he gave a flat ‘no’. But, when I showed him a now discontinued Abercrombie University of Michigan varsity style sweater, he said if he had that, he’d go.

Well, grab your craft beer and vanity monocle, Jordan. Because we’re going on a hipster bike ride.
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I decided to knit this sweater for Jordan’s birthday. The cardigan is drafted to his measurements using Garment Designer (which drafts for both sewing and knitting). I have found GD to have more ease than I prefer so I used the minimum ease option and tapered sleeves in the design.  I think the fit through the torso is okay. And, I’m very happy with the length of the bodice. Where I failed, is that I’ve never made a sloper for Jordan from the program like I did for myself. I just assumed since mine fit so well off the bat his would be the same.

I can’t say that’s true. I found the sleeves on this to be about two inches too wide and three inches too long.** ETA: It looks like I added length to the ‘long’ sleeve. When I can pin him down, I’ll remeasure his bicep.

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The back neck also gaped pretty badly. So much so I that I machine sewed in two darts. This is a guess as I’ve never done this before: But, I think the neckbands are usually done in ribbing which has a lot of stretch and would pull the neckline in to the body. The plain stockinette bands should probably have been shortrowed  around the back to add curvature. And / or I should have wet blocked some shaping in to them prior to applying them to the cardigan.  If I were to make a stockinette neckband the same way, I would short row around the neck to snug up the fit. But, if you have other ideas, I’m all ears!

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Speaking of the neckband, I didn’t knit in buttonholes. I didn’t know what buttons I was going to use and wasn’t sure about placement since I was just knitting a doublewide band to length. So, I decided to machine sew the buttonholes after I bought buttons locally.

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I think the shoulders hit about the the right place too. Maybe move them in 1/4 inch. The back waist is a little large, but nothing some short rows (darts) couldn’t fix in the future. I also made a machine knit hem. Which I’ve actually never done before! But, when I looked up vintage style sweaters online, I saw they used hems rather than ribbing for the bottom.

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Now, the yarn… oy. The yarn. I first bought the Cascade 220 Superwash. I read reviews for it online after purchasing and the reviews weren’t great. I thought I can make this work! I couldn’t. The yarn haloed (got fuzzy) and had a weird feel. I had to frog the first piece of sweater I knit and the yarn got super ratty and wouldn’t easily unravel. I decided life was too short and I could make hats from the leftover blue. So, I ditched that yarn  for a lambswool from Colourmart and kept the daffodil color from Cascade fro the Michigan Maize.

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I ordered the Michigan M  and the ’13 (the year he graduated law school) from Sunshine Chenille on Etsy.  The M is perfect, I love the quality of the patches. But, unfortunately, the colors kind of clash. The M is more of a gold and the yellow I used is a pale butter color. But, I’ve decided to live with it and the other flaws.

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This was also the first time I knit pockets. It felt like magic! And, like sewing welt pockets. I knit these in 1×1 rib. I don’t LOVE them. But, I like that I was able to make them.

Overall Jordan likes his sweater! And, he’s asked for more cardigans. Because, he’s really an old man inside a 29 year old frame 😀

I think this is the fifth garment I’ve machine knit? I tried several new-to-me techniques (pockets, hems, cardigan, sewing buttonholes on a sweater knit). I also learned a bit more about fit and how to best use my design software. So, it’s a win for me despite some issues.  And, hopefully I’ll continue to improve!

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We took photos at the City Dock in Annapolis today where we met his parents for brunch. This naval officer coat was his Hanukkah gift in 2015. It’s heavy wool, resists rain and American made (and is apparently missing a button). I love it on him.

Posted in Life, Machine Knitting

Craftivism and a Tendonitis Update

It’s not often (read: under duress  and rare circumstances) I make things for other people. I am more than happy to give away clothes I’ve sewn that don’t work for me. But, straight making things from scratch for others — pretty much only happens for Linus and Jordan (and in that order).

That should help you understand my absolute commitment to and love for my friends when I tell you I (with Jeannie’s help) knit 28 Pussy Hats for them to wear to the Women’s March on Washington last weekend.

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I never questioned whether or not I was going to attend the DC March. It was a natural reflection and intersection of my beliefs and politics. When I first read about the Pussy Hat project and saw it was easily adaptable to the knitting machine, I was hit with one thought, “I will knit these for my friends“.

So, I just posted a quick note on Facebook offering to knit hats at cost thinking I’d get a couple of replies. I was gobsmacked by the response. I heard from middle school friends I knew in Germany, high school friends living in Denmark,Spain and San Diego, college friends from LA and Spain, coworkers, most of my amazing and irreplaceable bookclub, Jordan’s bosses, Jordan’s former bosses and more.

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Now, God bless Jeannie. A few weeks after I offered to knit these hats my tendonitis started flaring up.  And, just when Jordan reminded me that I’d essentially entered into a contract with a lot of people (LOL)  Jeannie sent me a note and told me — not asked. But, told me, “I’m knitting hats for you”.  The sense of relief!

Let me tell you this. Walking down to the DC March and seeing scores of pink hats was an overwhelming feeling. I’m a very practical person and have previously thought the idea of craftivism a bit of an eye roll. But, it was visually impactful to see a united sea of pink. This Esquire article does a great job of discussing the historical intersection between fashion and politics.

During the day, as friends started posting photos on social media during and after the March I got all the feels. I was so happy to see the people in my life who support the same causes as I do and irrevocably touched to see them wearing hats made for them.

I wore mine out the night after the March to dinner. The owner of the restaurant shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you’.  A group at the bar nodded, smiled and told me they liked my hat as Jordan and I walked through the restaurant. It was a very long and emotional day and these small acts nearly had me in tears. It also helped me understand the impact of uniformity in a time of disruption.

I wore it in the weeks leading up to the march and I noticed as we got closer women started to smile at me, now after the march strangers are talking to me. Its a powerful thing to see people on the street and know you’re connected.

I read an article that noted that the there are three symbols of the march that are important because they took time, thought and planning, signs, the hats and clear bags. Nearly every woman (and many men)had all three of these things and it brought all 500,000 people together regardless of their skin color, background or religious choice.

— Renee’s friend Liz


Now, for my tendonitis. Thank you so much for your responses and suggestions on my last post about this. I saw a hand specialist at the hospital last Tuesday. It’s still tendonitis. I’d been afraid I might have carpal tunnel too. The doctor administered a cortisone shot to my wrist and my hand hurt like hell for two days (totally normal). Now, the wrist and thumb pain I was experiencing  has gone away.  I can type  with capital letters again! I can use scissors again!  It’s a week later and despite these improvements, my grip is super weak still. I can’t really hold a needle, cut with a knife, hold on to something for an extended period of time or type on my cell phone without problems. But, I feel like I’m on the mend overall. I’m giving it another week to see if my grip improves. I do miss lifting weights :-/ I mean, not really. I hate exercise but like the results.  Heh.


Whew. This post is so long! To wrap up, I’m currently knitting Jordan’s birthday present. It’s a varsity style letterman’s sweater. I have a whole Pinterest board with inspiration if you’re interested. Hopefully that’s what my next post is about 😀

Posted in Machine Knitting

Small Adventures in Machine Knitting

Jordan and I spent Thanksgiving with my family for the first time in our relationship. Let’s just say I had no idea family holidays were tied up in who you spend them with. Growing up a military family, we’ve never lived closer than four hours to extended family so we always did our own thing. We hosted a lot (people from church, soldiers who weren’t near family) and as an adult I’ve spent holidays with friends, family, alone, on vacation… kind of doing whatever I wanted to do. As a kid, we didn’t make a big deal about mother’s day and father’s day and birthdays were pretty low key. It’s not the same in Jordan’s family at all! Throw in Jewish holidays on top of traditional American holidays and Christian holidays on top of inlaws that live three hours away and I’ve learned you practically need a police hostage negotiator to get through the calendar.

Since we stayed with two of my aunts in Brooklyn, I decided to knit them scarves as a hostess / thank you gift. I’ve made these before. They are the hand knit designed  l’escargot bleu scarf from Escape Tricot out of Montreal. It takes just three colors and is one long triangle.

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Mine aren’t as wide as designed as I’m limited to my 200 machine needles. But, still lovely I think. I am always SO BAD at choosing colors in a vacuum. So, this time I plugged in the yarn colors I have from Loops & Threads in Ravelry and chose trios that I liked other people making.

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Denim Blue, Charcoal, Ivory

I’ve also used my machine this fall to knit socks. Yep! You can knit socks on a knitting machine! Learning to sock knit also took a fair bit of practice on my end to wrap my mind around circular knitting and short rowing. I used the instructions from a Singer knitting machine book on knitting socks in 3,4 or 5 ply (it’s a free download online). You can make them on a flat bed machine or one with a ribber. I knit mine using the ribber.

I knit socks that fit! And, Jordan is equally amazed and ready to go to dinner 😅.

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The first pair went to Jordan as I didn’t understand they needed a bit of negative ease. They fit him perfectly and he wears them weekly. But, I had to tell him NOT to wear them around the house. I mean, they are hand knit and precious! Treat them with love, lol.  Put on hiking socks from a big box store when your feet are cold, please.

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This green pair is ALL MINE.  I don’t know that I’m going to become a handmade sock nut. But, they are fun to make and a great way to get familiar with your machine’s ribber, circular (in the round) knitting, and short rows. I’m still working on the grafting and closing that short row hole at the heel.

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And, I think winding yarn manually with my winder is what really did in my wrist tendonitis last month with these projects. In addition to the skein winding, there’s a LOT of hand manipulation with these and pretty repetitive motion. I bring this up because I have found machine knitting to be better for my wrist than hand knitting. But, it’s not totally without some issues.  But, I tell you what. When a sock comes off your machine and you spent three years knitting a basic scarf by hand before, it feels pretty incredible!

Posted in Machine Knitting

Brooklyn Tweed Roslyn Raglan Tunic Dress

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It seems I’m all knitting, all the time these days, eh? That’s because it’s cooled down here in the mid Atlantic and after years of sweater lust, I can finally have wonderful knitted clothes. Plus, I spent the last two years working in a jeans and sweatshirt environment and desperately need winter clothes.

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My friend Veronik Avery   (SHAMELESS NAME DROP) designed the Brooklyn Tweed Roslyn. Roslyn is a raglan style dress / tunic with a 2×2 rib turtleneck. I’ll be upfront here. I know I don’t look my best in turtlenecks, I have my mother’s short neck and rounder face and I’m busty. Logic and fashion dictate I should wear deep Vs and wraps — and they look great on me. But, I love my neck being nice and toasty and cannot resist their siren song.

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Veronik  designed a really lovely, classically styled tunic with beautiful proportions. I was worried I wasn’t lithe enough to pull it off. But, wanted to give it a try anyway. I used the schematics from the pattern to draft this in Garment Designer. The only change I made was taking in the lower thigh area after completing the top. I always err on the side of more side seam room for my lower thighs. Yet, tend to look better when I flatten the curve there a bit. And, after one day of wear, I took in the hip / thigh area another four inches after the yarn stretched (must get better at picking the right yarn for a project).

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My right sleeve is really stretched out because I accidentally put my head through it one day instead of the neck. My head is significantly bigger than my arm.

Sweater dresses remind me so much of 80s elementary school! I was all about the geometric sweater dress and stirup leggings. I remember getting that outfit for Christmas and couldn’t wait to show up on the first day back at school from break.

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While this can be work with leggings or tights, I think I’m sticking with leggings. I’m open to opinions though on if this is a good length for me or if I should go shorter or longer in my next iteration. I’m generally terrible deciding on proportions.

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I knit a sport gauge weight yarn in Cranberry from Bartlett Yarns on my standard bed machine. I thought I was going to have to hand knit my ribbing too. But, it turns out I just needed to use a massive amount of weights to prevent the ribbing from jamming on my machine. I like the yarn fine. It’s pretty affordable for 100% wool. It was a nice hand and an almost rustic look. I did find the yarn a little thin in some parts. But, it comes coned which is a huge benefit to me!

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I’ll likely make Roslyn again with a crew or a V neck (or reduce the height of the turtleneck from 9 inches to at least six). I’ve already edited my draft to take out a bit of ease and accommodate for the stretch of wool (it’s supposed to have 4 inches of ease).

I love this tunic! I wear it a legitimate two times a week. It’s prefect for winter. Feels festive and on trend at the same time.

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I’m currently on a crafting break. After raking about 20 bags of leaves, knitting a few pairs of socks, some scarves for my aunts and not wearing my hand brace AT ALL, my  wrist tendonitis has flared back up 😧. So, I’m nursing it for a few weeks (hand brace, heat, ibuprofen) to let it heal correctly. Might be time to get caught up on my reading!

Posted in Machine Knitting

Brooklyn Tweed Corvid Coat

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I’m so excited to share this sweater with you. Why? Well, to start, I’m utterly in love with it. It’s the first time I’ve been able to take a commercial pattern and knit it on my machine. The Corvid Coat from Brooklyn Tweed conveniently has a schematic so I could use Garment Designer to draft the design and produce a machine pattern for me. Also, it appears they hired my reincarnated self to model the design….

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A few changes (and flaws), well, one big one. The collar and lower front extension on the original is in cartridge rib. I think the closest approximation my ribber does to this is fisherman’s rib. But, because I hadn’t done it before and requires tucking – which I also haven’t done before- I just made a 2×2 rib. But, don’t fear. I plan to make this in a cream Corriedale yarn I bought last year and will do fisherman’s rib then.

 

 

The flaw: my collar isn’t  wide enough. If you look at the original design, it flips back on itself and still looks about the same width as the lower ribbing. I read the directions to be five inches in width. But, I got it wrong. When I make this again, I’ll widen the collar to 8 to 10 inches and lengthen the collar a few inches (I accidentally made mine a few inches short).

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The sleeves are also snug on me (although now that I’ve worn it around, they have loosened up). Which I could clearly see when I drafted it in Garment Designer. But, I decided to go with the exact provided measurements instead of, oh, you know using the software I own that allows me to customize fit.

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Because the Corvid is mostly straight stockinette, this knit very quickly with whole swaths of simple knitting (no increases or decreases). I knit this on my bulky Brother 270 (new to me this summer)  in a sport weight yarn from Bartlett yarns that I picked up at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year.  This weight yarn probably knits best on a mid-gauge machine. I knit this on Tension 1 (which the lower the number, the tighter the tension). I’m also so sad now I’m going to miss MDSW in 2017. We have two weddings in May. One of them in NY during MDSW.

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I am not 100 percent happy with the ribbing.Before blocking, it had a nice beefy hand and great definition. But, post wet block, the 2×2 rib looks a bit flat along the front hem. I’m not sure if that’s a product of the yarn or the Tension 0 I knit it on (again, the bulky machine isn’t ideal for a sport weight yarn). So, for the collar and lower front extension, I used steam to give the ribbing a final block.  I know that a lot of people hand knit the ribbing and add it to the machine. But, I have really bad tendinitis in my hands that prevent me from hand knitting.

Due to the width of the back and lower rib, I did have to knit them in sections and seam them together. But, I think it’s really hard to tell unless you’re looking.

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Any who, if you can’t tell, I AM FEELING MYSELF. I am so happy to have a REAL sweater made from REAL wool that I made. It’s EXACTLY why I wanted to try machine knitting.

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And, I get to wear it during the fall!

What’s next… a good question. I’m kind of swamped with work the next few weeks. I quit my 9 to 5 back in July and have had a (miraculous) steady  stream of consulting work since then. It’s been extremely liberating. But, not nearly the amount of time I thought I would have with my sewing and knitting.  When things calm down in November,  I’m thinking of either Brooklyn Tweed’s  Brighton with a diamond shape tuck stitch or the lovely raglan sleeve Roslyn (both designed by my friend Veronik). But, seriously, at some point I need to start holiday gifts….

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Somewhat more technical notes on my Ravelry page