an FO, more words on yarn and needles, plus a tip!

January 20, 2015


First, let's start with the pattern: this is Brisk from Kim Hargreaves book, North.  I made quite a few modifications for fit such as adding length and waist shaping.  I made the smallest size and it really is more fitted than the photo lets on.  I know I've said this before, but I used to make sweaters that show off my crazy mad knitting skills, but I am over that.  I now just want sweaters that are complimentary and easy to wear and are made with yarn that feels great to knit with and makes beautiful fabric.  I also tend to go for the simple shapes, nothing too fussy.  I love this neckline very much and think it's pretty trendy and flattering too.  I've seen a few of these necklines lately and see that Kim has used this neckline in her last few books.  

But this sweater isn't all about fit, it's also about the fabric.  I used the new Rowan Mohair Haze, a fingering weight blend of extra fine merino wool and super kid mohair.  (When you see words such as extra and fine and merino in front of wool, or super and kid in front of mohair then you are purchasing some of the softest and finest fiber available.)  Mohair Haze is floaty and downy soft.  The fabric is fuzzy, cushy, lightweight, next-to-the-skin soft and cozy warm.  The stitches neatly palsy walsy next to each other and surround themselves with a little halo of mohair fuzz.  I found it very easy to knit, and could easily "touch knit", in fact I could go for rows and rows with nary a glance.  But as the fabric grows, you'll want to stop and admire it, cuddle it, caress it.  It's that pretty.  The fabric has a very slight sheen, just enough to make it look fresh and dewy.  Can knitted fabric look young and fresh and dewy?  Yes, I think so!  I did find it to knit a bit "fast" and used Clover Bamboos to slow it down a bit, see below.

I know I always carry on about how lovely a yarn is, and I know a lot of that yarn I carry on about is Rowan, but I have to say, over the many years I've been knitting, yarn manufacturers have really raised the bar.  They've gone out of their way to seek out the finest fibers and create blends that are supreme.  Yarn companies are proud of their new offerings and they should be, so many of the new yarns I try are simply fantastic.  I do my due diligence of course; I know my fibers and I read the labels.  I rely on my local yarn store to steer me in the right direction and also read reviews when I can find them.  Ravelry and knitting blogs are a good source for up-to-date reviews.  I know that reviews, like this one, are often more anecdotal than scientific, but if a knitter can tell me why she does or doesn't like a yarn, it does give me a clue whether I'll want to knit with it.  Because knitting is such a popular hobby these days (and it doesn't look like it's slowing down), yarn companies are popping up all over and want to make us knitters happy.  Lucky us.   I very often get my hands on yarn before consumers and I always try to review them here and spread the word.  Bottom line, Mohair Haze is fantastic.

Educate yourself!  If you would like to learn more about fiber and yarn,  I  highly recommend Clara Parkes books, The Knitter's Book of Wool and The Knitter's Book of Yarn.  If you want to hear her reviews of the latest yarn I would recommend following her excellent blog, The Knitters Review. The more you educate yourself about yarn, the less mistakes you'll make with your purchases and the less mistakes you'll make with matching pattern to yarn. 

So you all know I am fiber fussy, but if I am fiber fussy I am also needle fussy.  Sometimes you may dislike a yarn, but it really may not be the yarn's fault, sometimes you can blame the needle you are using!  Change it!  If you find a yarn is knitting too fast (slipping off your needles) or too slow (sticking and dragging across your needles), it's time to switch needles.  If the yarn is new to me I always cast on with the most perfect all around needle and the one I recommend most often, KnitPicks Caspian or Rainbow.  Both are exactly the same needle, just different colors and both come in circulars, straights and dpns.  They are heavenly, with a nice point, a warm touch, and excellent joins on the circulars.  If after a few rows my knitting feels too fast or slippy, I'll switch to the basic Clover Bamboos.  They have a bit of stick and will slow the yarn down a bit.  They also come in circulars, straights and dpns.  (I have noticed that the cords on the circular will coil up on you a bit.) But if I feel that the knitting is too slow going and draggy, I'll use the super slick and speedy Addi Lace needles (love the lace tip).  They only come in circulars which have a nice flexible cord and a smooth join.  If after all that and you're still hating the knitting experience, do what I do: donate it or sell it!  Your trash may be someone else's treasure.

Now on to the great tip I learned from Sarah Hatton when I took a class from her last year.  In the picture below you can see my original sleeve had ribbing and a little band of pink.  After pinning it together and trying it on I decided the pink stripe was too much, and also, the ribbing was a bit much too.  I wanted something more simple, like a rolled stockinette hem for my sleeve.  So I set about to change it.  If this sweater was knit top down it would have been easy to rip the ribbing back, catch the live stitches and finish with a hem that suited me.  But this was knit from the cuff up so that option was not open for me.  Here's what you can do:  Decide what row you want to rip back to, then pick up the row of stitches just above that row.  Get out your scissors and cut below that row being careful not to cut into the soon-to-be live stitches on the needle.  After cutting, you will have to pick away a few straggling pieces of wool.  Now re-attach your yarn and knit down the hem or cuff you want.  This is also the way you could lengthen a sweater that was knit bottom up.

In this case I didn't want a rib after all.  I caught a row of stitches, cut off the cuff, re-attached the yarn and knit down.

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Goodbye for now from sunny California but please don't envy our sunshine too much.  The west is sufffering from a terrible years-long drought and our sunny skies are a constant reminder of the water restrictions we face.  It's hard enough for private homes and businesses but devastating for our farmers.  We are the nation's top agricutlture state and without rain we are in big trouble.  Pray for rain!

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  2. Wow, what a great tip! About the sleeves, that's brave. I'd be so scared to cut! But your end result is fantastic. Also thanks for your yarn reviews and needle reviews.

    1. I freaked out the first time I cut into knitted fabric, but it works!

    2. You're so true, it is frightening cutting knitted fabric for the first time.
      You got more used to it working fair isle in the round using steeks, Kristen! ��

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  4. You look so lovely, Kristen. I'm sorely tempted to knit with this yarn!
    Great tips, especially changing needles to change speed.

    1. Thank you Konrad. I cannot wait to see you on TV! Wowzer!

  5. Lovely! This pattern is on my to-knit list; I thought I'd get to it this fall but that ship has sailed! I totally agree with you about changing focus to simpler, more wearable patterns - I've been feeling the same.

    1. Gail, you and I are are on the same page as far as the sweaters we like. We often knit the same ones!

  6. Ok -- so "crazy, mad knitting skills??" What do you call catching a row of stitches and cutting off a cuff?? Not for the faint of heart!! 😉😉 Cute sweater!

    1. Well, you have to be a little crazy mad to cut into the fabric!

  7. such a gorgeous sweater, and your modification worked out great! I love your yarn choice, the halo effect of the Rowan Haze is lovely.

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