sea fret pullover

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, patterns

who doesn’t love an easy to knit, multiseason, go-anywhere pullover to knit for yourself or that special other?

sea fret is all that and more—versatile, unisex, and completely easy to wear, it is sweater dressing at its most comfy. choose between v-neck and crew neck options to suit your taste or make one of each! it’s certainly a quick enough project—knit in the round from the bottom up, it moves along at a quick pace and finishes up with just a few inches of underarm seaming.

styled with raglan shaping, the fit is a little less formal and more flexible, making this a garment you can pass around and share easily. the pattern includes nine sizes from young adult to big and tall. and the weight is just right—soft and airy in fingering or light sport yarn, it is the one you’ll want to grab again and again.

subtle texture softens the fabric throughout the sweater body, making for nice transitions when using a gradient yarn such as our patchwork fingering yarn (above in light print) or festivus 4.0 sport (below in cranberry crush).


sea fret may also be knit in stone soup fingering (barb has one on the needles now!), cooper sport (i just finished my cardigan version in it!), ghillie sock, or elemental affects shetland fingering. it’s a great style for that single breed, heritage wool you’ve been longing to knit! i think you could even knit this in chebris sport, for a cozy, retro-luxe version.

the cable detailing along the side seams and raglan lines adds definition, but it can be eliminated easily, as i did with david’s red version—simply convert the raglan cable panels to stockinette and work an extra repeat of the body pattern (or garter stitch) at side seams—the stitch count is the same for an easy swap out.

i added optional patterned elbow patches to the plain sleeves of my v-neck version for a fun detail, also included in the pattern. whether you choose them or not is up to you, but they are a great way to protect a lightweight garment that you’ll want to live in.

want to know more about sea fret or ready to cast on NOW?

click here to purchase the pattern in our online shop and click here to to purchase the pattern on ravelry.

and don’t forget to share your sea fret progress in our bare naked wools ravelry group—bring yourself and your project for a fun, relaxing knit and chat.

as mentioned earlier, i’ve been working on a cardigan version of sea fret too! my sample in soft, luminous cooper sport yarn is complete and the pattern is on the way (click here to preview details). we are headed to the maryland sheep and wool show tomorrow and we plan to release it next week when we return. until then, if you plan to visit the show, please come see us in the main building, booth C28 to fondle the samples and have first choice of our small batch yarns. we’re looking forward to seeing you at the fair!

many thanks to our wonderful models, raina and kevin and to thor for making the photo shoot SO much fun!

the list

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, home and family, projects

every time i complete a new sweater, the last finishing task i take care of is to give it a nice bath. for the natural, undyed yarns that i love, this means a good long soak in hot soapy water—sometimes twice!—to bring back the fiber’s natural shine and springiness, dampened by spinning oil and handling. i like to wash my larger items—sweaters, blankets, large shawls, etc—in our washer’s hand wash cycle. it does a lovely job; light on the fabric yet rinsing and spinning well, so my garments are easy to reshape and dry quickly. usually when i have a new sweater ready to wash, i run around the house, pulling out several more to wash along with it and make a full load (my drying area is large enough to lay out seven or eight sweaters).

and what i’ve noticed these last couple of years is that, while i fully recognize that a good wool sweater does not need to be laundered after just a few wearings, some sweaters end up on the drying field often. because i wear them more than a little—i wear them a lot. in fact, i’m not ashamed to say there are a few that i wear several time per week and a couple that i would wear every day if i could get away with it (if i worked in a locked attic, for instance—which possibly i should). david and cardigan are fortunately quite blind to what i’m wearing so some weeks, i actually do get away with a lot, clothes-wise.

this small group of go-to garments are more than just clothing—they are friends! i don’t open my sweater drawers and ask, “what goes with the jeans/sweatpants/loungewear i’ve got on?”—i ask, “what do i feel like today; which of you will make me feel strong/comfy/happy?”. and then i choose the one i need. some of them never leave the top of the drawer.

in fact, i’ve got a list going of frequently worn sweaters that i need to knit again, if only to have a backup when i’ve worn the first too many times lately or if it’s in the wash.

my dock and cabin sweater is a good example—it’s been off the needles for about eighteen months, i’ve worn it endlessly, washed it half a dozen times at least, and and it looks as beautiful as the day i finished it. knit in good, soft, tweedy yarn (stone soup fingering, pumice), it is light but cozy, easy to wear, and incredibly durable. here’s a much nicer photo:

i want to knit another one just like it—same yarn and size, in a different shade (you know, to make it clear that i actually do change clothes once in a while).

while deep dive is a newer design that i haven’t been able to wear as long or as hard, i already know i’m going to need another. for one thing, my original sample has made its way to the shop, never to return (or at least, not for a while). it’s about to go on tour through the summer sheep and wools shows, so i likely won’t be wearing it much.

but that’s ok—i’ve been coveting one knit in stone soup fingering yarn and have gotten it on the needles in the rich, dark river rock shade. i cannot WAIT to get this one done and wear it.

those cables will be like ribbons of glossy chocolate in this black/brown tweed. ok, so i’ve only got one sleeve done, but i’m setting my sights on finishing before we leave for maryland in two weeks.

and then there is my argyll pullover, sister to the subterraneans cardigan that appeared in the fall 2017 issue of interweave knits (click here to view/purchase pattern in the interweave store), knit in stone soup fingering yarn (granite shade).

due to space restraints, they didn’t publish the pullover version along with the cardigan, but those of us who have knit it (me, barb, and cherie) consider it our current favorite. we’ve knit it in a variety of yarns and we have plans for more.

the pullover sample—which i wear very often—is knit in cozy, better breakfast fingering yarn (muesli shade); it’s the absolute perfect pullover to toss on for everyday wear. The fit is loose and casual enough to look great with sweats and jeans, but the fabric texture lends it a tailored, more formal appearance when paired with skirts and trousers.

i have three skeins of stone soup fingering yarn in slate lined up for another one of these, but would also love one knit in ghillie sock yarn. barb and i agree—when you hit on a perfect sweater, you should make at least three!

she laughs at me and my list though, because current design projects are always nudging things around. but i manage ok and i think that, by the time this design is available for general release, i can get at least one more knit, fresh for fall wearing.

ivar, short or long is another indispensable favorite (i’m wearing it now!), once again knit in stone soup fingering yarn (shown above in the slate shade, tunic length). i love this longer version to wear with soft knit pants or when it’s extra chilly around the house. this cardigan is five years old now and has nary a pill on it. as much wear as it’s seen, the elbows are not thinning nor has it lost its shape. SSF—as we lovingly call it—is truly a yarn for living in. light and breathable, yet warming; it’s wonderful stuff. and its natural shades blend with everything.

i’ve always wanted to knit another one of these for myself but then i remembered—i do have a second—this hip length ivar sample knit in better breakfast fingering (mocha shade) by my friend cherie. it’s a shop sample, but it reminds me that i like the shorter version as much as the longer one and that i don’t have a pullover, so maybe i need one of those in this length. this is down on the list a little further because i keep thinking i might just steal the store sample for myself.

but before i can spend any considerable time on any of the above, i really must complete my sea fret cardigan prototype (pullover pattern is through tech editing and almost ready for proofreading and test knitting, yay!).

i started the first sleeve last wednesday and got the cuff completed before knit night began, which left me free to coast along in stockinette stitch while chatting with friends.

based on the response as i passed my swatches around the office and the knitting group crowd, i went with our 2-ply cooper sport, which is spun from 100 percent springy, lustrous coopworth lambswool, produced by carol wagner on her wisconsin farm.

i’m excited to be knitting a garment with this yarn—i’ve knit a number of accessories with it, but never a sweater. and the sea fret cardigan is a great project for it; my aim is a light, summery wool cardigan that will transition from spring (if it ever gets here) to summer and then from summer through the fall.

but hey—it’s still snowing here (as i write this),  so if i’m quick, there will be plenty of opportunity to wear it right away. by friday i was on to sleeve number 2, which i made short work of in the few hours i had to knit over the weekend. in this case, the sleeves are knit first and end at the underarm to be picked up later and worked into the yoke.

yesterday, with my chapter deadline met and delivered, i was getting ready to go for a long walk, but cardigan was feeling lazy and decided she wanted to knit all afternoon instead, so that’s what we did. seriously—when i asked her if she wanted to go for our usual outing, she just looked at me, then at the sofa and hopped up. who could argue with that?

i plugged in my earpiece and called katharine to chat while i knitted and the dog snoozed. by the time we needed to leave for our tuesday night movie date, i was through the hem and had two pattern repeats completed. it goes SO quickly with this stitch pattern to work along with an interesting, single breed yarn.

where a springy merino yarn, with its tight, frizzy crimp, will do well on the needle size stated in the pattern, i found that i need to go down a needle size in the coopworth yarn. it’s crimp is much rounder and the fiber stiffer, so its spring manifests itself by opening the stitches up wider (think big, adult jumping jacks, compared to little kid ones). to get the same gauge and a fabric that felt equally dense, the smaller needles worked better. that’s why we do gauge swatches, right?

well, i’ve set out a pretty busy personal knitting schedule here; do you think i can do it? i’d love to have the sea fret AND the deep dive done before maryland—that’s two weeks away. and one of them is just a lone sleeve at the moment, so i force some mad knitting over the next little while. if i do manage it, maybe i can treat myself by casting on an argyll pullover as a travel project . . .

i think i’ll go knit now and watch the snow fly.

weather or not

Posted on 11 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, food and garden

i’m not a religious person, but i do enjoy the religious holidays; i like that my geographically widespread family gets text- and photo-stream happy for a day or two, sharing plans and photos of food preparation and places they are visiting. these are days to savor as the kids grow up and my generation gets older.

it was crazy though, as only an easter that lands on april fool’s day can be—while the day was cold and windy, it was also quite sunny and we got out for a very long evening walk to visit all of our doggy friends and places. for supper afterward, i made a yummy pasta dish with asparagus, mushrooms, and cured olives and then sat down for a long chat with my friend katharine.

at one point i turned around to look out the window and WHOA! it was a frosted winter wonderland, thick wet snow coating every branch. and as i write this, it’s snowing again now, though it was 60 degrees last night. spring in ohio, haha.

i had nice knitting weekend, too—without classes on saturday morning, i stayed up til nearly dawn on friday night making swatches and had a little extra time on saturday to knit, too. i completed this sleeve—the first finished piece of my second deep dive pullover in my very favorite stone soup fingering yarn. i don’t have a really dark brown sweater and thought this v-neck, with its rich, deep cabled details would be a good opportunity to use the river rock shade. you can’t say at all that the texture will disappear with this design—those cables are mighty, mightay.

i’m also preparing to begin the cardigan version of my sea fret design, which i envision in one of our soft cream shades of bare naked wools fingering yarn or perhaps a light sport weight. i love the idea of an airy, breathable spring/fall fabric that glows with light for this garment, which i imagine i would grab to throw on for just about any outing. where we live, the wind can pick up at any time or the sky can cloud over to bring on a chill.

to achieve the kind of fabric i want, i need a fiber that has some body—one that, when it blooms, will hold its fibers ends out to support the stitches around itself. that will make a lighter, airier fabric which is breathable, has good wicking properties, and maintains its shape nicely. a very soft fiber won’t perform in quite the same way; it will be dense and cozy, but that’s for another season. also, without garment seams to add support, a soft fiber may sag or torque.

to obtain my goal fabric, i felt like i had three choices among our array of fingering yarns—tweedy, stone soup fingering (a strong blend of heritage wools and merino, alpaca, and luxury fibers), cooper sport (100% springy coopworth lambswool), and ghillie sock (100% cheviot wool)

stone soup fingering is my go-to yarn for durable, everyday sweaters that i’ll wear often, but since we’d already decided to knit a sea fret pullover sample in that, i decided to focus on cooper sport and ghillie sock. these two single breed yarns are the perfect thing for knitting aran designs and ganseys—plus, i don’t yet have a garment knit in either one. a word about the word “sport” vs. “sock” or “fingering”; while our yarns are classified according to the diameter and yards per pound at which they are spun, their individual fiber characteristics often allow them to cross lines and perform in a neighboring class. the way they relax and drape or bloom and puff up, allow them to be knit in a wider range of gauges and needle sizes than most commercial yarns. so the fact that i’m trying out a sport yarn here has more to do with the characteristics of coopworth fiber than with the yards per pound.

i knit a pair of swatches in each yarn, one on size 6US (4.0 mm) needles and one on size 5US (3.75 mm) needles. i’d used 4.0 mm needles for the original samples but both of these yarns are so springy that the gauge on those needles was too loose (not enough sts per inch; fabric a bit loose). so i went to the smaller needles for another go. the photo above shows both prewashed and post washed swatches—what a difference, eh? there is such a change in the character of the fabric—the fabric relaxes and flattens (especially in row height) and the stitches become much more consistent. it’s a really important step in the swatching process and necessary for gathering a proper gauge measurement. oh and yes, i got much closer to gauge on the second swatches.

once my swatching was done, it was a real tossup for me about which fabric to knit with—they are different, but similar and each has a wonderful, unique character. they are equally soft and light and creamy. the cooper is a bit fuzzier and feels a little denser, probably due to its 2-ply construction. the ghillie is smooth, with slightly crisper stitch definition. i passed the swatches around at our team meeting last week; david liked the defined pattern in the ghillie but preferred the soft fabric in cooper and ellen went straight to the cooper sport. so cooper sport it is! i will save the ghillie sock for a cabled sweater design that i have planned for fall.

dang i just love the process of getting ready to knit. haha, i know that’s not the best part for most people, but i can’t help it—i could swatch all day; it could be my job and i’d be happy. oh wait—it IS my job. yay!

i’ve been working on the matching cap here and there; it’s just about ready for top decreases to begin, but i got sidetracked by some secret knitting. i can bring it to knit night this evening and maybe get it off the needles. now that i’ve taken it out of the project bag again (oops, i may not have looked at it all week), i’m kind of excited; it’s possible this hat will fit david and that he’ll like it.

we had thought about traveling to see my mom for the holiday, but david is working on the very last pieces for our new website and it just wasn’t a good time to take five days off. so we worked hard, but we also made time for some fun.

because cardigan has been doing so well with her socialization exercises, we needed to refresh everyone’s supply of dog biscuits. i had a couple of overripe bananas, so i decided to substitute them for the sweet potatoes in my regular recipe.

using banana seemed to increase the flour requirement a little, BTW. cardigan was on stand-by to taste the batter and make sure i measured everything correctly, with especially generous additions of peanut butter.

she was also a big helper in watching the oven; the smell was intoxicating, i must say. then she helped with the taste testing that followed.

i tasted one myself and i must say, these are spectacular—er, for a dog biscuit.

elbows swinging

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, projects, spinning and fiber

once i got home from dayton last week, i soaked my elbow patches in soapy water (my sea fret sweater had already been washed and blocked) before preparing to stitch them on. this is important so that they don’t change size and pucker after fixing them to the sleeves. i left long tails at both the beginning and end of my work for sewing; i wound these into butterflies befor soaking and blocking.

in the rinse stage, i fulled the fabric just a little to toughen it up, plunging the pieces alternately into icy cold water and then hot, repeating a few times and rubbing lightly. it wasn’t an all-out felting; that may have distorted the shape. just a bit of fulling to make the fabric dense and more resistant to wear. i then rolled them in a towel to remove excess moisture and laid them flat to dry, pinning them into a nice oval shape.

next i tried on the garment and placed the patches where i wanted them. in my case, this was about seven inches from the edge of the cuff. i wanted them to cover the elbow but also to extend down the lower arm enough to withstand the constant pressure on my forearm when i work at my desk. this is where i typically see some pilling in my sweaters.  for some people this might be too low, so i will probably state a slightly higher placement in the actual pattern and schematic and suggest a custom placement.

by the way, the elbow patches could be any shade that suits you or even another color entirely for a surprise pop of color, the way some designers are using bright pompoms on neutral hats. i chose a slightly darker shade than the color of my sleeves, with enough contrast to stand out a bit, but not too much. the patches are knit in a scaled-down version of the body pattern which provides textural contrast.

once i figure out the placement, i laid the sleeves flat and measured evenly from the cuff, then aligned the patches in the same direction the stitch columns were running on the sleeves. i’m not positive this is important, but  my instinct tells me that if i tilted them on the fabric, the two layers would fight each other and eventually torque somehow. whether you place them a little closer to the underarm seam as i did, or cheat them a little more toward the center of the sleeve is completely between you and your elbows.

once they are placed, slide a piece of cardboard into the sleeve to isolate the top layer, then baste the patches down with large stitches, using sewing thread and a needle. basting is a great technique for securing things temporarily, especially when you’ll be manipulating or moving the fabric a lot. basting is MUCH better than pinning, which distorts the fabric and allows pieces to shift around quite a bit. it only takes a few minutes to do, but once completed, gives you lots more freedom to work; the basting stitches are easily removed later on.

next, i used a backstitch to sew all around the edges, just inside the stockinette edge stitch. to backstitch, take a tiny stitch to the right and slide the needle underneath the fabric to the left, overshooting your next stitch a little; repeat around. i used the column of garter stitch at the edge as a guide for each stitch and that worked a treat for making them equal in length.

i wanted a bit of rough edge to show all around, but you could also use a blanket stitch or whipstitch if you prefer the look of covered edges. either technique will result in an equally neat, secure attachment. once it was sewn all around, i wove in my ends on the wrong side and removed the basting stitches.

now, how to deal with all that unattached fabric in the center of the patch? while two layers of merino wool will almost certainly tack themselves to each other a bit when washed and worn, i definitely didn’t want to leave the result to chance—it would be just my luck that they would shift a bit and glue themselves together in some distorted way, never to be separated.

i thought about running a few lines of invisible stitching right next to the garter ridges and certainly, this would do the trick. but i wondered if it might be heavy or stiffen the fabric more than i wanted. then i had another thought . . .

maybe needle felting would be a good solution? believe it or not, i had never needle felted, haha, and i don’t own the tools, but i really wanted to try it here. over the years i have thought of many instances where this technique might be useful, but never bought the supplies to do it. and i still didn’t—instead i asked everyone i know if they have them, but no one did. finally, i thought of my friend paula and sure enough, she had what i needed. she brought them to our saturday class and on sunday, i gave it a try.

don’t you just love how i’m willing to experiment on a brand new, never been worn, took forty or so hours to knit garment?? yeah, that’s because i didn’t even think of it that way until just now. scary, huh? i guess i just figured it would work.

so basically, we are needle felting an appliqué here and the instructions that come with the kit are very clear about how to do it.

i didn’t realize until i read these instructions that you can do needle felting without water! here i had envisioned making something of a mess and working with wet fabric, when actually, the whole process was quick and neat. i just stuck the felting pad—which is actually a big square brush—into my sleeve face up, underneath the patch. it then occurred to me that it might have been good idea to leave the basting in until after the felting was done, but i needed that shot for the blog so i didn’t think of it. you, however, could take advantage of my hindsight.

i had to work in sections because my patch was bigger than the felting pad, so i just moved it around to do one quarter of the patch at a time. all i had to do was punch lightly with the felting tool through both fabric layers for a minute or two and wa-LAH!—it was attached. then i did a final section at the center.

you know you’ve done it correctly when you turn the sleeve inside out and you see a haze of fiber on the reverse in the shape of your patch. since the patch is also sewn down, there’s no need to go crazy and make it stick too firmly—a light touch is fine and will likely be reinforced by future washing. you don’t want a stiff fabric or one that will felt into cardboard if you cough on it.

like i said in my earlier post, we’re going to take lots of lovely photos with real models some day soon, but for now, here’s a sneak peek. now i have one more to go and this garment will be complete; time to get my pattern writing sweatshirt on.