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.

#1:
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).

#2:
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.

#3:
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.

#4:
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.

#5:
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.

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.

polypore—a knit club favorite

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in projects

leading the parade of accessory projects from our mood swings 2017 club, polypore was a popular shawl right off the bat. with its intriguing hem shapes and deliciously wavy pattern embracing a crescent-shaped garter stitch body, this design was attractive to the color enthusiasts, technique junkies, and shawl lovers among us.

its ability to be knit in a single, luxury shade, a variegated colorway, and two (or more!) contrasting colors gives it that special flexibility a club knit requires—there is something for everyone here.

the original sample was knit in two shades of zen yarn garden serenity silk +, custom dyed for the first club installment, one mood and one lifter. the bright color accents the waviness of the lace pattern used in the deep hem sections, as well as outlining the irregular edges.

we sold out on both colorways almost immediately, so for this general release, we had to come up with a different way to show off the design.

for our reknit we chose a subtle, elegant approach by working with a single shade of bare naked wools chebris lace in frappé. this nearly cream shade is laced with silvery threads of gray, lending it a gorgeous patina. with this option, the openwork is more of a feature, as is the textural depth of the garter stitch stripes—a great way to show off a single skein of luxury yarn.

the hem begins with a very large cast-on number that is quickly reduced after a few simple stockinette rows to form a curling, organic edge.

the design was inspired by groupings of bracken mushrooms (or polypores) that i discovered while walking cardigan in the rain last spring. when i saw their shaped edges, i immediately thought, what a pretty shawl hem that would be!

using two colors or a single variegated colorway enhances the dramatic wave motion within the stitch pattern and the short row shaping of the shawl body. you could also use a contrasting yarn type, rather than a contrasting color—pairing deco lace, for instance, with the chebris lace to create shiny contrasting bands and liquid body in garter stitch. a bit more subtle but still a standout feature.

to purchase the polypore pattern or read more details, please see the listing in the knitspot pattern shop or in my ravelry pattern shop. please share your progress and photos in our ravelry group or tag us on instagram (@knitspot or @barenakedwools) along the way!

let’s un-complicate this

Posted on 23 CommentsPosted in Bare Naked Wools, designing, projects

for a variety of reasons i am a big fan of sweaters knit in pieces, with seams to give them structure and durability. among their many attractions, the individual pieces make it easy to put a fine finish on the garment details by pinning and steaming, as a precursor to seaming and a final wet blocking. i demonstrate these techniques whenever i teach a blocking class, because many knitters have never seen them applied. sometimes students ask me, “but then, how would you block a sweater knit in the round?”

and most times, i will recommend to then go straight to wet blocking because it can be awkward or even impossible to steam block the details on garments knit in one piece. often you can get nearly the same results with frequent reshaping and fussing over details as the piece dries.

but once in awhile, there comes along a garment that defies the simple path of soaking and laying flat to dry. it might include some quirky shape or feature that requires extra special attention for that important first blocking. or large, relaxed cables that don’t hold their shape without rigorous “encouragement”.

i recently completed a design that fell squarely into this category. the body is knit in the round from the hem up  with oversized cables along the side seam area. at the underarms, it is divided to knit separately through the front and back yokes. in addition, it has a deeply textured cabled inset all around the neck which extends to form a curved back yoke. and when knit in our deepest charcoal gray shade—better breakfast fingering yarn in poppy seed—well, this is a sweater i will wear ALL the time.

preparation for this design required many large swatches to get that neck shaping just right. the change in gauge from the stockinette fabric to the cabled fabric is drastic; coupled with simultaneous neck shaping, it becomes one big geometric nightmare puzzle.

the first swatch did not increase fast enough and offered a less-than-compelling center front feature. not to mention that pleat forming long the center front line—guaranteed to grow in size and ruin everything.

my second attempt was a great improvement aesthetically, but now pulled the fabric in the other direction and not in a good way. i thought i could solve the issues here on paper and then go straight into knitting, so i decided to forge ahead and experiment on my garment sample.

while i did fix the puckering problem, i ended up with another underwhelming neck detail—i had to rip back about four inches of the sweater in progress, grr. still, every time i looked at the beautiful swatches of this mega cable, my determination returned. finally i got the balance right and was able to finish the garment.

once off the needles tho, the sweater still looks scarily distorted and less than desirable. the cable cross involves so many stitches that it pulls the entire garment out of alignment until blocked. once tempered, however, it is a gorgeous frame for a deep v-neck that screams WANT!

the catch is, that cable really needs to be steamed to take some of the wind out of its sails. otherwise, it will constantly collapse into itself, drawing the yoke fabric and the neck edge with it. this situation not only causes unsightly puckering throughout the torso, it undermines the impact and drama of the oversized cable. underwhelming is not what we are going for here.

so . . . what to do? how do we handle the necessary blocking? since i definitely want everyone to want this sweater when the pattern comes out in our upcoming ensemble collection, i figured a tutorial would be a good way to make us all comfortable with the blocking steps needed. it’s not really difficult—it just requires a bit of patience, a ruler, and a good supply of pins, along with a hot iron and a wet towel. let’s get started!

once the body was off the needles, i first steamed the cables along the side seams to open them up—until the cable to blocked to its proper expanded width, the gauge for the body won’t be correct and we will fight the tension in the cable while blocking other areas. since the body is knit in the round, i slip the side seam over my sleeve board to separate it from the garment. you could use a rolled towel or a padded ironing board as a substitute.

look at the difference; the blocked cable shows its wonderful inner texture and is much less bulky. don’t worry about losing the depth of the texture—it’s still plenty sculptural as you’ll see in a minute. i have to apologize for the lighting in some of these photos; i was working during an extremely dark (and short) december afternoon and sometimes had to put the overhead light on to see.

you can use a hand-held steamer for blocking as well if you prefer; these are generally cooler and do not require the use of a towel, but it’s a good idea to test your fabric to see how close to the surface you can hold the tool without causing damage. my hand held steamer feels awkward and needs constant refilling; i always gravitate back to my iron. maybe it’s just that i’ve been using it so long, but i find i can manipulate more easily.

once the side cable is tamed a bit, the garment can be laid flat with relaxed armholes. i placed the back yoke face down on my pressing area to begin, folding the front yoke down and out of the way. i have a large, permanently installed pressing bench with a pinnable surface that is covered with batting, muslin, and a terry towel. you can recreate this surface with blocking squares and a towel spread out on the kitchen table or countertop—any large flat surface that won’t be damaged by steam will do.

using my schematic, i pinned out the curve of the back yoke, taking care to maintain the correct, cross-back shoulder width all the way up the armhole. the skinny shoulder straps can easily take a wayward path, distorting the curve of the yoke. taking care to pin it all securely and squarely will pay off in a yoke that is easily seamed and hangs beautifully without bubbling later on.

after pinning the yoke edge and armholes to the correct width, i check to make sure the armhole is also the right depth on both sides and make any adjustments. i always step back to eyeball the whole thing as a last step; if it looks cockeyed at all, i make slight adjustments as needed.

now it’s time to steam this portion. my iron has been heating as i pinned and i’ve soaked a hand towel with cold water. i lay the towel over the pinned area and use the hot iron to LIGHTLY touch the towel, not putting any real pressure on it; all i’m aiming for is to create steam indirectly. when the iron meets the wet towel steam will be forced through the knitted fabric below and become trapped beneath the towel. there it will fill the fibers in the yarn, making them swell and bloom. in addition, steam helps to weaken the molecular bonds in the fiber so they lose enough of their memory to maintain the steamed shape. this is why you should never steam directly onto the fabric with the iron, or press a crease into wool fabric—once those bonds weaken or break, they cannot be reversed. it works in our favor for blocking, but it pays to be careful and respect the process.

once the back yoke is blocked, i can flip the front yokes up over it and block right on top. this allows me to match the front armholes to shape of the back ones as a starting point. you might be wondering about those locking markers—they are placed at specific points that i want to remember for my written pattern; i left them in throughout the blocking process, but removed them once my notes were complete.

after pinning the armhole shapes, i begin pinning out that neckline. you can see by the number of pins i’m using—and the unevenness of the neck edge—that i’m pulling rather rigorously on the cable width to open it up.

again with the ruler, haha! but in my case, at least, it’s a must; i have to be very precise so that when all the sizes are graded, we don’t end up with large distortions in sizes on the far ends of the spectrum.

once pinned, you really begin to see how beautiful this cable is. the very edge of the neck will look kind of awful at this point, but don’t worry too much—when that yarn relaxes from the steam, it will be easy to nudge it into a straight line and the pin marks will quickly disappear. adding the neck trim will also tighten and draw that edge into shape.

this is a good time to talk about the yarn actually—the design relies on a yarn that will relax easily into the shapes i want to achieve. it doesn’t have to flop about helplessly with no spring at all, but a tight twist merino might not be a good choice for this project. the engineering and fiber character will work against my effort to block the cable, especially around the neck where the free edge cannot apply tension and support. the mix of fibers in better breakfast fingering yarn is just right—the yarn has enough spring to hold its shape and give the cable some plumpness, but the silky alpaca fiber helps it relax. a soft twist allows the yarn to bloom, which adds support within the fabric structure.

it’s not really a necessity to match up the center back yoke pieces so precisely at this point, but as the designer, i want to make sure that the width across the back neck (inside of the curve) is what i expected, as i’m seeing this for the first time. and holy cow, that’s a lotta pins! even though i’ve put so much work into pinning, i would take them all out if those yoke straps needed to be resized to make a correct neck measurement.

once i’m happy with the shape i re-wet the hand towel and cover my work. using the iron very carefully, i steam each section well.

after removing the towel, leave the pieces pinned in place to dry. see what i mean about the sculptural quality of the cable? there is no lack of depth here, but wow—the shapes are WAY sexier now!

after the yoke dries and can be unpinned, i give the lower body a quick steaming through both layers at once. this is mainly to open the fiber and get those stitches blooming, so that the main body fabric will match the other parts i’ve blocked.

i prefer my ribbed hem to be blocked flat, so i add a few pins at the side seams to help it along. once the steam enters the fabric, it relaxes quickly.

now you can see the gentle body shaping (optional) and the full impact of the details. i’m getting excited.

here’s a mockup of the back, with the front yoke flipped over the shoulders and cozied into that back yoke curve. looks like a good fit; i can now graft the yoke pieces and stitch the yoke down.

i left the yoke straps on scrap yarn holders, in case i needed to add or subtract a few rows when i fit them into the back yoke curve. my first sight of the fit is at this point in the blocking process—up til now, there’s been no way to know if my calculations were correct. it looks good—now to put it all together.

the next day i came back with the yoke grafted, stitched down, and the neck ribbing complete. everything went together like a charm, but it needed some serious steaming and blocking to look its best. the center back graft is tricky because it has ribbing and garter stitch, but you can achieve a nice join using my free grafting class on craftsy.

i folded a large terry bath towel and slipped this pad inside the garment up to the shoulders. this gave me a cushion between layers so that the back yoke pattern would not imprint through to the front side.

same steaming technique as for the other parts—wet towel plus hot iron to create steam; no pressure applied. while the fabric is still damp and full of steam, i nudge and prod to smooth out the joined area. once the garment is soaked well and washed, the blooming fiber will help to mask the slight jogs that are a common result of grafting. after a wash and a little handling, you won’t see them.

it’s easy to obsess over these quirky bits when working so close to the fabric, but try to step back periodically when assessing your work. no one, not even you, will be looking at these details under a microscope; friends be too busy admiring the overall effect and you’ll be too busy accepting compliments!

at the same time i also steamed the completed neckband front and back, stretching the ribbing very slightly so that it lies flat and the neckline doesn’t pucker anywhere.

ok, time to see what we’ve created. one of the downfalls of working in the round in one big piece is that i can’t pin single pieces on my mannequin to check that they work. it’s just a big open tube until most of the finishing work is complete. but i can’t wait any longer—i have to take a peek . . .

phew, it looks good and i like it! the slight torso shaping accentuates the lines of the neckline and bust, flaring up nicely to frame the shoulders and face. a gentle hourglass silhouette eliminates any bagginess at the waist that would counteract this effect.

my aim here was to create a neckline that appears to plunge deeply through the bustling area, but doesn’t have an oversized neck opening. the inset turned out just the right depth (thanks to all that swatching)—it skims over the top of the breast in a sexy curve but does not bisect it unattractively (thank heavens). it will likely elongate just a little more after a good bath and i think there’s plenty of leeway for that. i like it.

the blocked side seam panels are dramatically carved to carry the eye upward as well. steaming helped them spread out and flatten a bit so as not to add bulk; it also assists the fiber is blooming so the cables hold their shape.

want to see it on? i can’t resist; i have to try it.

a bad selfie on a dark day, but it’s a thumbs up for fit and neck depth, yay!

ok, now on to the sleeve seaming. i pinned and blocked my sleeves as i did all the other parts, using my schematic as a guide, then steaming with the wet towel and hot iron. i stitch the sleeve caps into the armhole openings from the shoulder down (using those long yarn ends i left in the shoulders), ending each seam at the center of the underarm. afterward i steam the completed seams, using a tailor’s ham; click here to read an older post about the process and tools.

after the sleeves were seamed in, it was time for a bath. i like to wash machine my garments in mesh bags, using the hand wash cycle. mine is extremely gentle, but spins out a lot more water than i can squeeze out by hand. and since i hate to run the machine for just one garment, i grabbed all my BNWs sweaters and added them as well, including the aspergillum cable and lace top that i plan to publish later this spring (top photo, front left).

you can also see my subterraneans samples at the center of the photo below. in the rush of fall happenings, i didn’t get to blog about this pattern, which was published in the fall 2017 interweave knits.

while dyed yarns should be washed in cool water, natural yarns like ours can enjoy a full immersion soak in hot soapy water to remove any spinning oils or dust that remains on the yarn from the mill. this will encourage the fibers to lift and separate, causing the stitches and cables to plump and puff into their final shape. you should always wash your swatches to understand what the final fabric will be like, as it may vary considerably from its appearance and gauge during construction.

the steam blocking really helps the cable keep its shape. as it dried, i periodically stopped in to pull it widthwise a little, making sure it stayed open, but only to ensure it looked nice for photography. for everyday wear, i wouldn’t feel a need to fuss over it, as it really did look nice when it came out of the wash.

a couple more bad selfies, haha, just so you can see how washing will smooth everything out. you’ll get to see photos of it on a gorgeous model very soon.

because i have to dry it flat, the cables at the sides developed soft creases which again, i normally wouldn’t mind, trusting them to hang out after wearing for a little while. for photography’s sake however, i resteamed them lightly. doesn’t the fabric look SO much softer and cuddlier after a bath?

i knit the garment with a fairly long side seam length, but it’s easy to adjust if a shorter or cropped version is appealing.

it turned out to be quite graceful, i think. this is a piece you can dress up or down and wear with or without a shirt underneath. the fabric is light enough to serve nearly year round, but provides a cozy layer of warmth in winter, due to its soft halo of premium fiber.

the design can be knit in several of our fingering/heavy laceweight yarns, including, stone soup fingering (my favorite and next on my list!!), chebris lace (i might need a third), ghillie sock, deco fingering, and hempshaugh lace. the details pop no matter what shade you choose; it’s a great option for a dark yarn. i used around 1400 yards for my size.

i need to think up a name for it; i’m currently using the working title “deep dive”, but “plunge” is another name that i like. what do you think?

cardigan thinks “plunge” is perfect as long as it we are talking about her sheepskin and blanket nest.

i am itching to wear this all the time; i’ve been patiently waiting til all of our photography was completed, but then the weather got so cold for weeks and weeks, that i stayed cozy in heavier sweaters. spring is in the air today so who knows, maybe i’ll wear it to our company meeting this afternoon.