Sunday, January 23, 2011

Conquering the Cardigan

This is the first completely knitted sweater that I have ever made! I have done woven garments in the past to which I have added knitted collars or cuffs or bands. But during the past couple of years while I was away from my looms I decided I should KNIT a sweater.

I considered many patterns from books I own, from the yarn stores and the bookstore. I decided I wasn't knowledgable enough (definitely not confident enough) to select a pattern on my own. Many visits to yarn stores for ideas followed!

The very helpful staff at The Yarnery in St. Paul made this suggestion. It was a "knitted from the top down" pattern by Knitting Pure & Simple. I wanted a basic comfortable style that I could wear to the office.

I splurged on the yarn, "Pastaza" from Cascade Yarns, because I felt that if I am going to spend all that time and energy on a project, then I want it to have some impact. And I want to love it! The color is WOW and the fiber, alpaca and wool, is YUMMY.

I really took my time, read the instructions carefully(trust the instructions - so hard to do sometimes!) and watched the online tutorial by the pattern maker. The tutorial was very helpful and is available at Knitting Pure & Simple's website. Knitting this project was wonderful. It was a challenge but not overwhelming. I liked the feel and the weight of the work as it grew and lay in my lap. It actually went quite well.

I worried about the bands, those on the ends of the sleeves and picking up the right number of stitches on the front to make them match. But I dove in and did the first band for the buttons. Success. Then the dilemma -- what buttons to use! I shopped -- no luck.

And then, an "Aha moment"! I have a large button collection, nothing organized, just lots of buttons. (oh, I do love buttons). Why hadn't this occurred to me before?! I searched the collection. I needed 10 buttons but didn't have that many matching in the right size.

So here's what I did - I chose 10 different black vintage buttons. Each is unique and I love the way it looks. It lends another level of interest to this very basic pattern. Still making the buttonholes in the second band was the scariest. Buttonholes - - HOLES - - spaced properly! It took several days, even after I selected the buttons, to gather my courage and just do it.

What a feeling of power to complete this project and be so happy with it. (The photo of the yarn that appears earlier in this post has a truer representation of the actual color.) I am lovin' it!

So, if you have a big project calling to you, go ahead, dive in . . . . . .

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Knitted cuffs . . . . . textile jewelry!

I am charmed by the idea of cuffs because they can be an excuse to wear more textiles. Textiles as jewelry. They move beyond macrame bands or small crocheted, beaded ropes. The possibilities seem unlimited and challenging.

I have seen beautiful, charming, exotic, simply fun, gorgeously lavish, and romantically recycled examples made by many artists. How can one resist trying some of your own?

This knitted, ribbed design feels comfortable to wear, rather cozy. It makes me want to knit a matching cuff for the other arm. They feel like they should be a pair!

All of the cuffs that I have completed are the knitted type. They are fun to knit and the embellishments just seem to suggest themselves! I have a denim example and a crochet and wool felt piece in the works. The sewn fabric designs feel more contemporary somehow and seem to open themselves up to embellishment with a great variety of materials. My first inclination has been to go with buttons, colored threads - traditional sewing notions. But I can feel that quirkier bits will find their way to the fabric - what fun!

Some of these cuffs will be for sale in my Etsy shop this week.
Take a look . . . . . Fringe Fiber by Kristie Peters